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Giving it Away in Business

November 5, 2014

Halloween Candy

Yesterday, still in a post-Halloween sugar haze, my son asked if he could have a piece of candy. My husband and I were both in the room, and I said yes and tossed him a piece. Almost immediately, our son turned to my husband and asked, “Can I have three?” Three? When I was in school there was a useful little fellow between one and three called “two,” and now apparently we are just skipping right over him. And besides that, why was he asking his father, when I had been the one handling the transaction moments before?

I decided this second question was worth asking. “Why did you ask your dad, and not me?” I inquired pointedly. My son cocked his head and replied thoughtfully, “Because dad is a ‘more-than-one’ kind of guy.”

Hmm. He had me there. His father is a ‘more-than-one’ kind of guy. He is always more generous than he has cause to be, and is always more inclined to say yes than no. It’s an openness to the joy of life that he carries over into his work, his children and his marriage, and it’s natural for him. I admire that; it’s something that businesses and employees would be wise to cultivate, since that desire that starts in childhood to get a little extra never really leaves people – specifically, all of your customers. If you can provide it, they will keep turning to you.

In encouraging generosity, I am not simply referring to charitable giving – though of course, that is a priceless component of business. I am referring more to an approach, a mindset – a generosity of spirit, you might say – that permeates your interactions and your business behavior. It’s even more than giving customers added value for their money (though that is a part of it), more than freebies and more than discounts. All of these things can help, but they must be accompanied by a genuine emphasis on the customer’s happiness – not satisfaction, but happiness. If your business truly desires to increase customer happiness through its products and services, customers will keep coming back you.

So give a little extra of yourself next time you engage with a client. Joyfully and generously give whatever is asked of you (that won’t jeopardize your business, obviously), and then ask yourself if there is anything else you could do. Or ask your client if there is anything more that they would like. Be a ‘more-than-one’ kind of guy.

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