Building trust in business relationships starts with the character of the individuals involved. Things like respect, sincerity, and integrity are important. When people exhibit signs of not being of high personal character, it will clearly carry over into their business relationships as well. Here we are sharing an example of the difference in such personal characters and what resulted as a consequence… All because of the element of trust.
This is the true story in which, by means of a cottage, a great opportunity was presented to two men and how they dealt with it. The only difference, however, was that one got it, while the other one missed it by a long shot! Therefore, the moral of the story you are about to hear is to illustrate that, even if, and I stress the word “IF”, opportunity does knock on your door, you may totally miss it anyway. The way that you treat people on an everyday basis does matter. See what you think of the people involved in this story.
The One Who Missed It… Named David
There was once a real estate broker, named David, in California, United States. He was also a real estate attorney. David enjoyed the good life in the fast lane and was very proud of his material accomplishments. He drove a nice car and had a nice office in the financial district of the city. What he did lack was humility and regard for others, which he didn’t seem to mind – he thought he could always get what he wanted because he had money and was smarter than the rest!
One morning, he had a client in his office to go over some real estate documents. His client, an elderly lady, had come to his office accompanied by a friend of hers, another elderly lady who was dressed poorly. David took them both in his office and started to go over the legal documents with his client.
In the course of reviewing the documents, the elderly lady, who was with David’s client and whose name was Ms. Jane, asked David a question. She asked him if he would be able to help her sell a small cottage she owned. David, who was spoiled by his big-shot image and his practice of only selling large properties that made him huge commissions, said in reply: “I only deal in big properties and don’t waste my valuable time on small cottage sales. Why don’t you go to your neighborhood real estate office and see if they can sell it for you?” David then ignored the lady for the rest of his meeting with his client.
David’s client and her friend, Ms. Jane, left his office feeling surprised and offended at David’s rude response to an honest and legitimate question. Ms. Jane told her friend that she had never met such a conceited and arrogant person in her life. She added that she had tried very hard to control her temper as a result of David’s rude and unprofessional behavior.
The One Who Got It… Named James
Some months had passed, when James, the other businessman, got a call from a lady who wanted to see him about selling a piece of property for her. James asked about who had referred her to him. The lady informed him that her friend, a longtime client of James’, had recommended her. James gladly set up an appointment for her to meet with him the following week. James was, among other things, a real estate specialist who worked on a referral basis only.
On appointment day, James met this modestly dressed elderly lady who introduced herself as Ms. Jane. James invited her to his private office and they sat down to business. Ms. Jane asked him if he would be interested in selling her small cottage that she had in the country. James told Ms. Jane that he would be more than happy to be at her service and that she could consider the cottage sold. Ms. Jane, who was taken aback by James’ enthusiastic and positive response, asked him if he would like to take a look at the cottage. James answered her that he would like to do that and take some pictures of it. A mutually agreeable date was set for James to meet Ms. Jane at the cottage. On her departure from the office, She thanked James for being so professional and courteous in taking care of her small need.
After Ms. Jane had left his office, James called his old client, who had referred Ms. Jane, to thank him for the referral. His client told him a few things about Ms. Jane and that she was a lady of means in the true sense and then some. James told him that her wealth or lack of it will not affect his service or attitude toward Ms. Jane and that she was a very nice lady.
The Invaluable Worth of Trust
A few days later, James met Ms. Jane at the cottage, which was located in the California Napa Valley wine country. The cottage, that was actually Ms. Jane’s former ground keeper’s residence, was a very nice 2 bedroom Old English style cottage inside the entrance to an 85-acre and well-maintained vineyard. Ms. Jane’s husband, who had passed a few months before, owned and operated this private vineyard. She told James that after her husband’s passing, she didn’t have the energy to undertake the trouble and the headache of running the vineyard, especially in view of the fact that she was all by herself and had no children to help out either.
James extended his condolences to her and told her that she could count on his help whenever she may need it with anything that he could do for her. There was this period of silence, while Ms. Jane just looked at James, as if to be thinking about an important decision. She then just came out and told him: “I like you and truly believe that I can trust you James. I would also like you to handle the sale of the whole vineyard for me. I have to take a trip to Europe and will ask my attorney to give you all the proper papers to take care of things here without the need of my presence. Would you like to do this for me, James?”
This was something that James had not expected at all! James calmly replied that he would love to! Ms. Jane seemed quite happy and actually excited that James had agreed to do this and help her. She told him that she liked and trusted him from the moment she met him in his office. She told him about her experience with David and how he had insulted her because she was dressed in old clothes. David had judged her based on her appearances. Ms. Jane also stated that James had treated her with respect and dignity, despite the fact that she was dressed in such old clothes, similar to what she had on when he had met David! James, who just happened to know David, felt very bad about such an unacceptable behavior of a so called professional individual, and voiced his regrets to Ms. Jane.
Ms. Jane mentioned to James that she would leave further instructions with her attorney to agree on the normal contractual fees and commission for the sale of the vineyard. In addition, she told him that she would have a bonus for him as well after the sale is completed. Ms. Jane then asked if he would like to have lunch with her before she leaves for Europe, to which James replied again: “I’d love to!”
The Rest of the Story
To make a long story short, James managed to sell the vineyard directly to one of his Japanese clients who was making investments in the United States. The vineyard sold for over $7.2 Million – a very healthy sales price for those days in the 1970’s – and the commission of about 10% of the sales price was not unusual. When Ms. Jane came back from Europe, 2 weeks after the sale of the vineyard, she gave James the bonus she had mentioned before… She increased his commission from 10% to 15% of the selling price! James tried to refuse such a gesture of genuine generosity, but, of course, Ms. Jane got the upper hand!
Several weeks had passed, when James ran into David, who asked him about the sale of the vineyard. James said “What do you want to know?” David then mentioned to James that a client of his (the lady that Ms. Jane had accompanied to David’s office some time ago) told him that he lost a very big sale of a vineyard. He wanted to know who the seller was. James gently informed David that it was the same lady that had come with his (David’s) client to his office – the very same one he had insulted! David became angry and told James: “the woman never told me she had money and wanted to sell a vineyard! She only told me she had a small cottage to sell! How was I to know?”
James asked if he could give David a piece of advice. David, who seemed obviously irritated, said: “What about?” James told him that one should never, ever, judge a person, let alone by their appearances! James also added that David was all about material gain and that he really didn’t have time to be bothered with people, unless they were going to profit him. To David’s dislike, James told him that he missed a great opportunity because he was too selfish and too arrogant to stop thinking only of himself and practice some humility. He treated others like dirt!
David, who was feeling terrible for having lost such a sales commission because of his greed, tried one last attempt to salvage something… David actually had the audacity to ask James for a portion of the commission because of the claim that he (David) had seen Ms. Jane first! Well, James simply ignored David and walked away from him, reminding himself not to have anything to do with David in the future.
The Lesson Learned
There are several very important issues that have been brought to surface in this article regarding our attitude, behavior, and the interaction we choose to have with others in our personal and professional lives. Some people, such as David, allow their egos and material wealth to blind them to the point of total acceptance of the one-sided belief that somehow being materially rich makes them a better human being than others with less or no money.
Such people are usually very lonely and insecure and go through life without ever lifting a finger to help anyone else in need, no matter what the degree of the need may be – they just don’t give a hoot! I am sure that you have either heard of or have known someone like that. We certainly have, and we avoid them like the plague! the ironic thing is that such individuals always wonder why others avoid them!
Then you have people like James, as mentioned in the article. People like James naturally have a caring and humble attitude that draws people to them. Instead of always looking out for number one, they show genuine concern for others. James’ humility and graciousness won the trust and confidence of Ms. Jane. Such a trust also brought James an unexpectedly lucrative business deal.
You see, all of us… young, old, poor, or rich… like and want to be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. In fact, in our opinion, we should demand it! It is, however, rather hard to have such an expectation, or make such a demand, if we refuse to treat others in the same manner.
What about your personal and working relationships? What would people be likely to say about you? Think about it!
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
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Your friends who dare to care,
Jay and Glenda