Now that I am no longer a Vice President at a well-established welding and gas distributor, I find it interesting to note how some people treat me differently.

After retiring from my position as VP, I began a sales and consulting business. The most successful people I knew from my previous job stayed in touch and tended to be associates who I supported in the past. Some became mentors while others led me to new clients who they believed would benefit from my experience in the distribution business. With this group, my job status did not change the way they interacted with me.

For some, however, “rank” clearly mattered. This group of individuals approached me as an independent businessman differently than when I was a VP. They were more dismissive and less attentive to the relationship we had previously developed.

I tried to determine the characteristics shared by the “treat them all the same” crowd. Here are some of the traits I identified:

  • Sympathetic – When you are going through a transition or a hardship, your sympathetic colleagues stay in contact.
  • Sensitive – People who live with the axiom, “The way you see them is the way you treat them and the way you treat them is the way they often become,” are generally sensitive and will stand by their friends and associates.  
  • Selfless – People who are selfless will change their agenda to accommodate someone who needs their assistance.
  • Solicit help – Being comfortable asking for help should work both ways in a business relationship and is indicative of someone who will treat you the same regardless of your title.
  • Sociable – A sociable person likes people and tends to cast a wide net. They build relationships built on trust, not rank.  
  • Successful – People who succeed generally have developed a great network of associates by treating others in a fair and honest manner.

Those in my business circle that acted differently once I retired did not have the characteristics outlined above. Can you identify the people in your group who value others for their integrity and not their rank? For help, ask someone like your building’s custodian, who deals with people at all levels all day, or ask your best customer who he knows that treats everyone the same. These are the people you can count on.

Pay attention to how you treat others. Focus on developing the characteristics of the “treat them all the same” group.

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