Please, Stop Pushing (Issue 884)

In which we are reminded to establish context, connection, and engagement before we share ideas, advice, or products with clients or prospects.

So, I was sitting at lunch with my friend, Michael, in a “white table cloth” restaurant mid-way between our offices. We’d met our server, Bruce, who was a bit overbearing and presumptuous. We’d requested our beverages – Michael asked for water, mine was an iced tea. And we’d received our food (“deluxe crab cake” for me, Arctic Char for him) and started a conversation about end-of-life issues for parents.  A little light lunch discourse.

About half-way through the crab cake and the iced tea, overbearing Bruce motored by our table and, without making eye contact and using a motion that reminded me of someone throwing a newspaper from a moving bicycle  onto someone’s front porch, delivered a second  glass of iced tea to the table, just to the left of my half-finished first iced tea.

I stopped speaking to Michel and watched Bruce disappear into the crowd around the bar.

“Really?”, I said aloud, so incredulous that I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the two iced teas. “First, that was disruptive, and second, did I want another iced tea? No!!! And, they’ll just throw it down the drain.” [I’m not big on waste.]

Another friend of mine tells a story about going into a bank branch to deposit a check.  She was standing in line, waiting for the next available teller when the branch manager approached and asked, “Is there anything I can help you with other than a teller transaction?”

“No,” my friend replied, “I’m here only to deposit a check.”

The branch manager responded, “OK, well, how about a checking account?”

“No, thank you,” replied my friend, “I’m here to deposit this check. I already have a checking account.”

“Well, how about a mortgage, then?”, unctuously asked the branch manager.

“No, thank you,” replied my friend, coloring her response with light shades of irritation.

“Well,” said the branch manager, reaching into his blazer pocket and pulling out his business card, “If you ever need either of those products, please call me.”

The restaurant intended that I feel grateful and well served by Bruce’s gratuitous iced tea delivery. I didn’t.  The branch manager didn’t care whether my friend felt grateful or well-served by his tone deaf inquiries. She didn’t.

Whether subtle and well-intended or neither (subtle or well-intended) they were both “pushes”- deliveries without engagement.  By that definition, for goodness’ sake, LET’S  PLEASE STOP PUSHING PRODUCTS (AND IDEAS AND ADVICE) AT PEOPLE without context, connection, or genuine engagement.


Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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