Want Respect? Start with Kindness.

Want Respect? Start with Kindness.

By Bill Radin

An experienced recruiter, Kenny spotted his client’s problem right away.

“The salary you’re offering is too low,” he told the CFO. “That’s why you’re not attracting qualified candidates.”

“Money isn’t everything,” replied the CFO. “Besides, our own salary survey puts us in the middle of the range.”

“Well, your survey is wrong,” said Kenny. “It’s either out of date or it doesn’t adjust for what other companies are paying.”

“Hey, we spent a lot of time working on that survey,” snapped the CFO. “Are you saying our HR team doesn’t know what they’re doing?”

“No comment,” said Kenny, rolling his eyes.

“You know what?” said the CFO. “I don’t like your attitude. Maybe you’re not the right recruiter for our company.”

Can’t Handle the Truth 
Kenny was stunned by this sudden turn of events. Rather than warming up to his wisdom, the CFO kicked him off the approved list. But it wasn’t the company’s pay rate that soured the relationship; it was Kenny’s utter lack of empathy.

Had Kenny taken a more measured approach, he and the CFO might have arrived at the same conclusion: that the company’s salary was too low to attract high-quality talent. Instead of offering his opinion, Kenny should have asked a few questions, such as: 

What do you feel might be contributing to the lack of candidate interest?
Have any candidates you’ve interviewed brought up the issue of money?
Have you ever needed to make adjustments to your comp plan to attract the best candidates?
Has anyone on your team suggested ways to improve your candidate flow?

Answers to these questions would have given Kenny more room to maneuver – and helped substantiate his position, without insulting the client.

Reflections on Your Character
It seems the greater your influence on others, the more critical the role of diplomacy. Just ask any parent, teacher or politician who’s suffered the misfortune of talking first and thinking later. They’ll tell you that hurtful words take mere seconds to utter, but their damage can last forever.

Don’t get me wrong: candor is a virtue. It not only reflects on your character, it fosters a like-kind response from those around you. In other words, people tend to mirror back to you the same level of candor you telegraph to them.

But the way you sequence your words is equally important, especially in situations where a tactless truth might breed more resentment than respect. As any marriage counselor will tell you, it’s often better to be loved than to be right.


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