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How to Be More Likable: 10 Things to Do Today

G.L. Hoffman

#4 Assume Goodwill

First, an assume-goodwill story. Years ago, I managed distribution centers for my company. There were twelve of these centers spread across the U.S., and my job, circa 1980, was to make sure they served our distributors with timely and positive service. Service had gotten so bad it was all the distributors/dealers would yell about, not how much more they could sell, but how terrible our service was. For those of you familiar with third party sales channels, when your distributors are angry, it gets ugly fast.

So, I got the job of fixing them. I had zero warehouse, inventory, or operational-type experience. Zilch. I was told the DC managers were so bad, so non-customer service oriented, that I should just start over. I had free rein to do so.

Instead, I called a meeting for all the DC managers at the home office. Most had never been to the home office before. They had not drunk the kool-aid yet. They arrived thinking the new guy (me) was about to fire them all. They were scared, defensive and angry, too.

Even though they were uniformly described as malcontents and sloppy representatives of the company, chances were pretty good,I thought, that they had simply been ignored. In short, I believed they wanted to do better but someone had to show them how.

Once they understood I was not going to fire them, I assumed they wanted to fix this common, not-just-them problem, we all buckled down and fixed it within a few months. They even proudly wore the uniforms I strongly suggested they wear while working at the DC. Of course it helped everyone in top management stopped by our meetings IN UNIFORM.

My takeaway lesson was we should always assume goodwill in other people, instead of jumping on some out-of-control, negative, ain’t-they-awful bandwagon.

This works in almost all situations. If you are thinking negative thoughts about someone’s actions, let your first thought instead be to assume goodwill on their part.

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