Covering the Basics


So which would you rather experience from an individual or an organization:

Column A   Column B
Someone who goes above and beyond what they said they’d do.



Someone who says, “I’ll take care of that” and doesn’t follow through.
Someone who shows they appreciate your business through actions and words.



Someone who responds to each of your questions with, “HUH?”
Someone who teaches you about their product or service and invites your questions and then answers them.


Someone who shows up 40 minutes late for an appointment (without even calling to let you know they’d be late) and also smelling of alcohol.


Let me guess.  You’d rather experience Column A, right?  Yeah, me too!

It seems to me like doing the items in Column A and NOT doing the things in Column B are the basics of doing business, or even relating with another human being.  However, I’m amazed from my own experience (I’ve recently experienced each item in both columns) how many people don’t have a grasp on the necessity of covering these basics in a business setting.  I find it frustrating… and also encouraging.

I find it frustrating for obvious reasons, but I’m encouraged, because if there are so many people NOT covering the basics, I can very easily stand out, in a positive way, if I make sure I’m covering the basics in my interactions with others.  And so can you!

Covering the basics in our interactions with others looks like:

  • Doing what we say we will do.
  • Presenting ourselves well in appearance, language, and attitude.
  • Looking people in the eye when talking with them.
  • Being present and engaged with the person you’re with (Put the smartphone away!)
  • Being courteous and respectful of the other person.

It feels to me like covering the basics is a secret competitive advantage whether you’re in business, applying for a job, or just connecting with another person.

Let’s take advantage of this secret and make sure we’re covering the bases in our interactions with others.


The Unexpected Gift

This week my wife and I received and unexpected gift.  The gift was rather small, it didn’t cost much, and wasn’t terribly difficult to create.  However, it made my day and brightened my entire week.  The unexpected gift we received was a hand written note from a friend.

Our friend Kathy had taken the time to write a note to express her gratitude and thanks for our friendship and continued assistance with an annual project she coordinates.  As a fellow letter-writer, I could really appreciate her effort which included:

  • Selecting a card
  • Writing her thoughts out by hand
  • Addressing the envelope and putting a stamp on it
  • Remembering drop it in the mailbox

There is no doubt it would have been much easier, faster, and cost next to nothing for Kathy to send her thoughts to us in an email instead.  I would have appreciated the email as well, but there was something special about finding the note amidst the denizens that usually haunt our mailbox, namely advertisements and bills.  In the midst of all the noise and messages that was competing for my attention that day, Kathy’s hand written note really stood out.

It’s interesting to me that with all the technology we have to communicate quicker and with more people, something as “retro” and “old school” as a hand written note, can really cause the sender to stand out.  The reason, I believe, is because not many people take the time to send hand written notes anymore.

The next time you have an opportunity to express thanks or appreciation to someone, try dropping them a hand written note in the mailbox.  Not only will you brighten the other person’s day with an unexpected gift, you’ll stand out as well.