General Rule of Thumb – Guest Post

June 24, 2009 by admncc

The e-mails I get from readers are the best.  Most of the time, they’re complimentary.  Once in a while, I’ll receive a nasty-gram.  But regardless, I read each and every one.

Melissa sent the below-message.  We corresponded and I decided to publish it.  She works in sales, although she used to work in human resources – which is important to know for the story.

I personally believe in justice and the “what goes around comes around” theory.  I don’t necessarily believe in kicking someone when they’re down, but I’m not opposed to a little mean-spirited snickering on occasion.  The person who called Melissa may be a recipient of that in this case…  You read her complaint the be the judge.  Without further adieu, here’s Melissa…

So I got a call from an HR person today (and this isn’t the first time it’s happened but I never forget the people).  They were recently let go from their company.  When I recreated myself and moved into a sales position, I reached out to a number of folks that used to call me and/or my employer at the time for help with HR questions.  These same people didn’t even have the decency to return my call and say they were not interested in my services, they simply ignored me.

Now that the tables are turned, I am blown away that these same individuals have the audacity to ask me for help. It reminded me of a fable I recently heard about a mouse.

There was this mouse, and he lived in a house.  Outside his hole, the owner placed a mousetrap inside a bag with some peanut butter.  The mouse was terribly frightened.  He carefully moved passed the bag to go outside to the farm for help.

He went to the chicken and asked for some help, but the chicken said, “That’s not a worry for me” as he clucked away.  Still afraid to return, the mouse went to the pig.  The pig replied, “I’m too busy” and he went about his business.  The mouse approached the cow. The cow said “Mooove away little mouse, I will not help you.”

Still frightened and now disappointed, the mouse returned to his hole and tried to fall asleep.  A few hours later he heard a SNAP!  The owner of the house quickly came out and grabbed the bag but was surprised when it was not a mouse that she caught, but a poisonous snake.  You see the snake bit her and she became so sick that she was forced into bed for weeks.

Without any work for food, the family needed soup to make her feel better…Cluck, cluck.

Weeks passed and still she became weaker…Oink, Oink

After her passing, the family prepared for the funeral and needed yet more food…You can see how this story is MOOving along.

The next time an individual reaches out to you, remember this fable.  The tables might not always be turned in your favor. People will be more willing to help you, even if you weren’t in a position to help them when they needed it, because you treated them with dignity and respect.  The next time you have someone reach out to you asking if they may be of service to you, at least have the decency to say “no thank you”.

All Posts / Business / General Moaning / Group Sharing / Guest Posts Business / Business Practices / Common Courtesy / Fables / Professional Courtesy / Sales /


  1. NeoConDon says:

    I’ve been in sales since 1998, and it’s very difficult. But, it’s part of the territory. I never took the rejection personally. The greatest lesson I ever learned was this:

    “In business, always treat people with respect…even if they don’t deserve it.”

    You never know when you may need their help.

  2. I don’t think most people mean any personal offense when they ignore sales people although if the person you contacted was someone you worked with or was an acquaintance, they should have returned your call/email as a courtesy.

    Constant – As for the museum, I’ve never been there. Fancy that. 😉 It’s in Dallas and I’m usually not or I try very hard not to be.

  3. Dan says:

    Melissa is right. Reciprocal behavior is important. If she called and they weren’t interested, they should have said so. If they blew her off, they should expect the same.

  4. Dan says:

    It is a relationship driven “who you know” world these days. That’s why I’m not in sales.

  5. My feeling is that reaching out is the best thing one can do. If you get burned once in a while, so what. Taking the stance of only looking out for oneself isn’t prudent in the end. You may get eaten.

    Complainer – I’d love to write something for your site sometime. Let me know.

  6. Tristan says:

    Audacity is to be expected when everyone believes they are something special. My advice in this case is forgiveness. You should return a call, even after being snubbed when roles were reversed, because it’s still the right thing to do. You can even proclaim your forgiveness if you’re so inclined…

    It’s a rare occasion when a person acknowledges that he deserves what ails him. So your return snubbing will just make him a victim in his eyes and further that ridiculous mentality.

  7. The Constant Complainer says:

    I receive a lot of sales calls as a part of my job. I don’t pull any punches. If I’m interested, I say so. If I’m not, I say so. That way everyone knows where I stand. But I return my calls and am polite, as that’s what I’d expect in return.

  8. Extreme John says:

    You always have the best guest posts here! I like the spin on telling this story and creating some awareness about something I constantly try to enforce and instill in my children.

  9. William Gatherer says:

    I work in a different kind of sales, and along with the story you shared, I often share this one.

    An old farmer had an issue in his barn. The flies were everywhere. He asked the neighbor how to get rid of them. The neighbor said to put an apple in a spray bottle and fill it with water. Set it out in the sun for 5 days, and then spray it on the flies and a few of them died. He asked the Milk man to ask around to the other farms and find out how they take care of their flies, and when he came back the following week, he had a jar filled with a golden gooey substance. The milkman told him to spread it on the wooden beam next to the cow pen. He asked what the substance was, and the Milkman replied not sure, but it works really well. They fly up to it and get stuck. No one gets harmed, and there is no bad smell associated with it.

    The farmer does as instructed and within 2 days, all the flies had nearly vanished. He decided to taste it, and the secret was out.

    You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

    No matter how bad the task, you must step forward when called upon, as you never know when you are going to be the one who needs help.

    It is that reason that I have stopped to help people on the side of the road, (Against my wife’s better judgment)

    Some people need to be kicked when they are down, but usually they are the ones who spit on me after they kicked me.

  10. Melissa (guest blogger) says:

    All great feedback and just so I clarify, I did pass the information about the job opening on to her, because that is how I was raised. Although keep in mind, I would NEVER be a reference for her. And I would not have been so irrate had she treated me with respect during my career transition when I was starting something knew. She could have even called me back in the middle of the night to avoid getting me on the phone and given me a bogus excuse as to why she wasn’t interested. See, she wasn’t just a cold call when I reached out to her, we had actually talked several times over the years (again when I was helping her).

  11. Tristan says:

    That’s right, William. Everyone is so caught up in media driven fear that it’s too dangerous to give anyone a hand anymore. Doing the right thing has been preempted by self preservation. But who wants to hear me ramble about our selfish generation… or maybe I’m wrong, maybe we’re just cowards, afraid of being killed by someone walking in the rain as we drive by in comfort, or afraid that someone will be mad at us if we tell them “no, thanks,” or “sorry, I can’t give you my recommendation.” Of course, what is a coward but a narcissist without the balls to say so?

Leave a Reply