People. You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them (although there are a few I could do nicely without, thank you very much)

People are strange beasts. Some can be so warm and engaging. So ready to go out of their way to help.

Others, though, can be unbelievably self-centered and insensitive. And, on this dark and gloomy day, I thought I’d focus on the latter group.

In just the past few weeks alone, I’ve sat alongside friends, associates and acquaintances, all under the guise of "getting together to catch up." Instead of catching up, though, it seems I always end up listening to a one-sided, never-ending litany of what’s new with them, their jobs, their kids, their ailments. You name it. They seem to love to update me.

Yesterday, for example, I sat through an endless progression of high school and college memorabilia trotted out by a friend of my wife’s. While it was interesting to a point, it just went on and on. And, not once did this guy ask me one question about me or what was going on in my life. This seems to happen to me all the time. Maybe I have that, "Hey, tell me your life story" look on my face.

Moving right along to insensitivity, our agency was just informed we didn’t win a piece of business we’d been pitching for god knows how long. The prospect was totally disingenuous throughout the process. First, she told us they wanted to work with us. After the initial meeting, she asked for proposal and budget, saying they wanted to get started asap. So, we submitted the plan and waited. Weeks passed. We checked back in. The prospect said they still wanted to work with us, but now we had to sit on a conference call with a bunch of senior players who had questions about the plan we’d submitted. So, we did. The senior players proceeded to shoot the shit out of the original plan (which the prospect had loved btw). Needless to say, the prospect didn’t defend us or the plan during the call. Based upon the new direction, we were asked to revise the plan and present it in person. Wary of the changing weather patterns, we asked if we were still the lone agency. We were assured we were. So, our team went to the prospect’s office and gave the presentation. As our group was leaving, we bumped into another agency’s pitch team. Nice. Very nice. And, today we got the call saying the other firm had gotten the business because they had brought a larger team. Oh brother.

I’m a firm believer in the adage, "what goes around comes around." This prospect will undoubtedly "get hers" one day down the road. As for the boorish people who ask to get together to "catch up," but instead talk only about themselves, maybe I should tape the conversations and send them, along with a cover note saying, "It was great to catch up. Let me know if you’d like me to elaborate on any of the points covered in the cassette."

5 thoughts on “People. You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them (although there are a few I could do nicely without, thank you very much)

  1. I think you are right Ann, about the first type of people just being insecure. While it is most certainly not an excuse, it makes it slighltly more bearable to know that these people are so threatened by others success or happiness that they simply choose to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  2. I wonder too if these boorish people see themselves as they really are. Probably not. On one hand, the first type you talked about, RepMan — the one who goes on ad nauseum about themselves and their family and never bothers to ask about you — could be seen as just insecure (if I’m being charitable). It’s not an excuse — we knew a guy in our old town for 9 years and not once in 9 years did he EVER ask how we were doing — but it’s mostly just obnoxious and offputting. But the people you and Jackie describe are beyond my understanding. The only satisfaction is as you say, RepMan — that they’ll get their just desserts.

  3. That’s a great point, I-man. I honestly think these people don’t know how rude they are being. I remember the CEO of one prospect company literally typing away on his blackberry the entire time we were presenting. And, I can remember another woman, who was CMO of a large telecommunications company, whispering and joking with her sidekick as our team tried to present. I don’t know what became of the boorish CEO, but the CMO was fired and has been out of work for some time now. Maybe her rudeness burned one bridge too many.

  4. rep, jackie-
    sadly these stories are all over the place and simply stated, suck!
    what would be really interesting is if u sent this blog to that prospect and had them comment on it…to get the “other side of the story.” or maybe they don’t realize how rude they really were..

  5. Repman, your post today hits on a larger trend of rudeness and a lack of business or social graces. For example, there was time I was presenting a new business proposal to the CEO of a large Mid-Western office supply company. In the middle of the noon presentation, the door swung open and in walked the CEO’s assistant with his lavish lunch laid out on a silver tray. Meanwhile, the agency folks were struggling to cover up their growling stomachs during the three-hour meeting.
    Then there was the time I was sitting in the office of the CMO of one of the world’s largest companies. As I finished laying out my strategic recommendations for the media relations program, the CMO turned to her colleague and offered her an apple. I guess I didn’t look like I needed anything to eat.
    And finally, in the story you related today, it is worth noting that the senior person arrived to the one-hour meeting 30 minutes late, had her assistant deliver snacks to her, started carrying on a conversation with one of her colleagues, opened a bottle of soda that exploded all over the room and all while we were presenting what was a very creative and highly-strategic program (if I do say so myself). Never once did the words “excuse me” escape from her lips.
    I have to wonder if the proliferation of e-mail usage, text messaging and so-called “social networking” has resulted in a new batch of etiquette-impaired individuals who don’t know how to conduct themselves in a simple business meeting.
    I’ve seen the Devil, and she doesn’t always wear Prada.