Cheap Signaling, Power Dynamics..
Courtesy: The dictionary meaning may seem a bit out of place in this context but here it is nonetheless: ” the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others “.
For all the education and training providers in the market, there is a great opportunity. Offering specialised courses in Professional Courtesy 101. Get ready to laugh your way to the bank. The market is dying for something so fundamental.
A bit of a back narrative if you permit me.
Let me circle back to an era(read Pre Covid) where travel was a breeze. When geography was truly history. Early in the year, I had set up a meeting in another country with the Founder/CEO of a leading premium real estate experience entity. He had inherited the business from his self made father who had built a mega infrastructure building corporation over the years. The meeting was to showcase a strategic roadmap for his organisation and share creative communication templates that are in sync with the strategy. Our team put in the emotional labour, ran the hard yards and created something truly magnificent. After all, we were meeting the scion, a decision maker, a business leader and as is our wont, we were prepared to deliver the best. The meeting was fixed almost a month ahead and I had planned my booking and travel accordingly. On the appointed day, yours truly set out, full of belief, confidence and exuberance to meet the revered appointee. The drive was a good hour and twenty minutes away and factoring in traffic bottlenecks, the lead time to reach destination was a good two hours. I must confess that other than optimism, hope and high enrolment, I had no premonition of what was to come. Reaching well ahead of the appointed time, imagine my plight when I was told by his hapless secretary that he will not be in office today as some other meeting had come up and he would not have the time to meet me. I reconciled to the situation as quickly as I could(after all I had flown in from a different country to meet) and offered the secretary that I wouldn’t mind the meeting being rescheduled. That is when I realised she was helpless too. Prompting me to take things into my own hands. During the rest of the day, I tried reaching my ‘ appointee ‘ on 9 different occasions on his phone, sent messages separately by Email and Whats App, but to no avail.
It’s been ten months since that date and I am still to hear from him. Forget an apology or regret, absolutely NOTHING. Now you know why I suggest the huge potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
The next messperience is closer home. Well within our geography. But this meeting made the very concept of courtesy, history. The client in question here is an uber premium automobile brand. So, not unreasonably, we had high expectations. Well before the appointed hour, me and two of my senior leadership team members of ISD Global arrived with our usual appendage: professionalism, confidence and complete preparedness. Projection screens were set, rest of the AV equipment along with our team members were raring to go as well. The buzz in the room was palpable. That was the end of it though. The three executives on the other side of the table were completely oblivious to the fact that there was a meeting by appointment, there was a presentation being made and there was an agenda that was mutually set prior to the meeting. They were all focused on their laptop and mobile screens with so much intensity that they couldn’t care less there were other people in the room seeking their attention and presenting something that they had asked us to. In such a situation, there was no way that the rubber could hit the road. That was my neutral observation.
They did not even know we left the room and the meeting. They ghost walked into the meeting and ghost walked out I guess. Now you know why I suggest the huge potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
Pardon me for going on and on, but here is another one, I promise, this is the last. This meeting is with the Director of a leading Furniture brand. Here again, history repeats itself. In the sense, that this gentleman has inherited the business empire from his father who had built it from scratch. The meeting also included a very professional and enthusiastic marketing head, a recent appointment at the brand. Her energy and commitment was total to give credit where it’s due. That set the hopes high. At the appointed hour, the meeting begins. It was scheduled to be a one hour meeting and the first thing we hear from the Director is that ‘ I have only 20 minutes ‘. Being agile and aware, our team was on the ball to recalibrate and pivot to the new time starved reality. We instantly realised there was a north south divide. Or a church and state relationship. If the projection screen where the presentation was happening was in the north, our 20 minute hand me downer was looking exactly the other way to the south buried deep into his mobile phone. Probably at last count, he had looked at his mobile about 40 times during the course of that ‘ 20 minutes ‘. I can promise you, at the end of it, he certainly was NOT the ‘ Apple of our eye ‘!
I am always wonder struck as to where all this stems from- is it a serious inferiority complex? Is it insecurity? Is it clanning? Is it power dynamics aided by cheap signaling? You bet the jury is out on this! But what I am certain about is the tremendous potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
Providers anyone? There is a big market out there waiting to be served!