I was reminded in the book by Michael LeBoeuf, Ph.D.; “How to Win Customers & Keep Them For Life.” of a management course that I took many years ago and a fable with a very important lesson for all of us.
The fable was; ‘The Snake and Fisherman.’ There existed this old fisherman that would go out every day by himself in his small boat. One day, he looked over the side and spotted a snake swimming by with a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, he bent over and removed it from the snake’s mouth and set it free. However, he then started to feel bad for the snake as it would now grow hungry. He looked around his small boat but had no food. All he had was a bottle of brandy. He opened the bottle and gave the snake three shots. The snake happily swam away and everything was good. About an hour later the fisherman heard this insisting banging on his boat and when he peered over the side, there was the snake, but this time it had two frogs in its mouth.
I took this to my own class, The Action Suite, and asked my students what the fable was all about. One individual got very close, however, no one came up with the right answer. Do you know?
The fisherman did something that we do ALL the time. Be it in business, or in our personal life. Does that give you a better idea what the lesson is? What the fisherman did in actuality is a bad thing as by doing it we enforce something. Any closer?
You see, the fisherman, rewarded bad behavior. How often do we do it?
How often, if you have a dog, and it’s barking in the yard, you bring it in and then give them a treat. The dog thinks: “Barking equals treat.” I know of parents that if the kids do not like what is being served for dinner, they will actually cook up something else like hot dogs because the kids like hot dogs. I am sure that hot dogs are so much more nutritious and healthy than what was served. Message: “Say I don’t like dinner I get hot dogs.” How about if kids are pestering you, and you tell them to go watch TV or play with their video games. Message: “Pestering parents equals TV or video games.”
Hitting a nerve yet? How about this, a customer asks you for a few more days to think about it and you keep saying yes and a few days has now turned into a week/month/quarter/year? You have a ‘no show’ policy which clearly states if you do not show up you will be charged, but you do not charge them. You have an appointment set with a client and while there, you are being continually interrupted and every time they say: “Sorry.” You respond with: That’s okay.” Any of these sound familiar?
In all cases, you are rewarding ‘bad behavior. ‘Asking for a few days will allow the prospect to never make a buying decision, saying no is a buying decision. Therefore, the prospect knows you will allow him to stall and keeps you on the hook. Therefore, you are rewarding their bad behavior.
If you have a charge for a canceled appointment and you do not enforce it, don’t cry that your calendar has blocks of non-productive time. It’s your fault for rewarding the bad behavior.
If you have a meeting, it is common courtesy and respect that both parties be present at the meeting. Being interrupted constantly and accepting it will never result in a productive meeting where issues and challenges can be discussed fully. Again, bad behavior being rewarded. Why?
There are many tools readily available that make the rewarding bad behavior a thing of the past. These tools are available to you as a member of The Action Suite. Clients have increased their effectiveness, proficiency, and profitability by a significant margin by using them. How significant? Going from mid five-figure annual income to six figures in less than a year.
The question is really: “Do you want to be the fisherman?” Thought not.