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I believe the fundamental tenet of the expression, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Whether in your personal life or in business interactions, if you are nice to people (the “honey”) instead of nasty (“vinegar”), you usually come out on top and get the result you desire.

If more people lived by this phrase, the world would be a more pleasant place.

Last week, I had one of the most frustrating calls of my career. As a retail buyer for more than twenty years and a consultant for the past five, I have dealt with difficult people and situations, but this one was a real doozy. A manufacturer basically completely disrespected the buyer by being a bad listener and rudely dictating to the buyer how the business should be handled while shouting and acting self-righteous.

Needless to say, this did not sit well with the buyer, an honest, hard working employee who was only following company policies.

As uncomfortable as this situation was for all parties involved, it reminded me of terms that we throw around in the industry like “partnership,” “mutually beneficial relationship,” and “respect.” The utter disregard by the manufacturer of simple common courtesy is what took me by complete surprise.

The only way to move on from an outburst like this, whether at home or at work, is a sincere, heartfelt apology.  Full stop. Not an apology with a “but”: I am very sorry, but…No! A simple apology and an acknowledgement of how poorly you behaved is all that counts at this point. That, and the return to how we were raised to behave. Treat others the way that you expect to be treated in return. 

We don’t have to like those with whom we interact, but if we can treat each other with mutual respect, it certainly makes any and all interactions more pleasant and meaningful. Is it really that hard to treat each other with common courtesy?

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