Earlier in my career I was up for a new role. New executive management was on board and they were making the rounds, meeting the potential candidates and assessing the team.
I met with the new, yet interim head of sales for the region and business segment. He was an affable guy. He asked good questions and had a decent understanding of what he was looking for. “Tom” was a humble guy, and admitted we was not long in the position, but wanted to set up who ever was going to follow him as best he could.
The interview and meeting lasted about an hour and went well. Tom revealed he liked my approach, my answers and was generally impressed with my command of sales and sales management. I was the front-runner he told me.
As we were wrapping up, he asked if he could give me a bit of feedback.
Tom said that during one of our pre-interview phone conversations, I referred to him as “brother” and that he felt it inappropriate. He suggested it was too informal and that I consider revising my communication style.
Caught off guard, I accepted his feedback, tried to explain the context of my casual nature and even told him I’d consider different language in the future.
I didn’t get the job.
But, I never forgot that interview. I’m thrilled I didn’t get the job because; I would never have been successful working with that person. I use “brother” like others use man, buddy, pal, etc. All of which have permeated our lexicon in both formal and informal settings.
I haven’t changed my style of interaction, which has worked for me for 20 years. Yet, based on his feedback, I almost did. I’ve made that mistake before, in other areas. It back –fired, big time! I’m glad I didn’t make that mistake again.
There is absolutely inappropriate behavior and a correct and incorrect way to engage with people. When someone crosses the line, it needs to be called out. But within the realm of appropriateness, everyone has his or her own style and approach. The key is to be true to that style. It’s what makes you, you!
I’m me. I’ve been successful being me for quite sometime. Nope! It’s not for everyone and I’m OK with that. However, changing into someone I’m not, so everyone doesn’t, “not like” me is stupid.
Authenticity builds trust. When we are our authentic self, we perform better because we’re not acting. Your customers and prospects will sense your authenticity and reward you for it. People can smell the posers and the fakers. Don’t be a poser. Don’t let anyone tell you to be someone you aren’t. Odds are they aren’t being themselves. Don’t’ be like them.
Be yourself, your customers will sense it and that is about as appropriate as you can get.