On Being Gracious

Many of the people in the world we live in seem to have lost the ability to be gracious. It may cross your mind that the “younger generation” lacks this ability. But I think not. I think that graciousness can cross all age barriers if only given a chance. In fact, I have  witnessed it in action from a Baby Boomer and its absence in a member of the X Generation.

The Boomer is an owner of a shop. He was speaking to a customer who was upset about an order. The customer complained and the shop owner listened. As it turns out the shop had made no error but instead of the shop owner asserting this fact he graciously accepted the complaint and offered to make it right. Yet, the customer was still belligerent to the shop owner. In short, the customer was at a serious loss of being gracious. You may think that the shop owner had to gracious because “the customer is always right.” I say hooey to that; sometimes customers need to be fired. Because they affect the bottom line in a negative way.

It may come as a shock to hear that customers or clients need to be fired from time to time. But this must be done in instances that include communication issues, personality conflicts, not wanting to pay you what you are worth, or my personal favorite wanting the sun, moon and the stars for pennies on the dollar.

Recently I found myself needing to fire a client. Sadly, I put this responsibility off for about a week—all the time thinking to myself I need the money. The process went a little like this: the written contractor agreement exposed a red flag. I spoke to the prospective client about it and a compromise seemed to be reached. So I continued. I performed research. I gathered information and I submitted my billing statement—another red flag came up. A teleconference revealed yet another red flag billowing in the air. I could no longer justify this working relationship and sent notice of my terminating the contract. I wanted to be gracious and professional. It was a simple message which informed him that I was terminating the agreement because it was a “bad fit” and I wished him luck in finding a person “more suited to your working style.” It is possible that he inferred this statement negatively. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to let him know that he was difficult. Who knows for sure?

However, the response I received was less than gracious. He responded “Agreed and accepted.” “…no point in paying…if you cannot follow directions….” I thought to myself—and wanted to respond—that is exactly why I terminated the agreement Captain Oblivious. It was terminated because you are a micro manager who treats people like they are eight years old. And meetings are nothing more than a monologue from you on items that have already been discussed. He was definitely not gracious. Sadly, I may not be  gracious in sharing this story. But I hope it helps you in your daily life to know that even though it is sometimes hard to be gracious it is the best thing to do.


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