Business dinner

Last night, I went out to dinner with a friend who is also a prospective business partner. Because of the mixture, our conversation went from private to business and back, sometimes even mingling both. I had a great time, and not only because we went to this really great Japanese restaurant, where they offered warm moist towels to clean our hands as we sat down, where they tied linen bibs around our necks to protect our clothing from any stray bits of food (they apparently know me quite well…), where the absolutely delicious food was cooked right in front of us, and the only utensils offered where chopsticks.
No, I also enjoyed it, because it reminds me that business partners are people too. This may sound trite or even silly, but it’s true nonetheless. I think we forget too easily that at the other end of the line (e-mail, phone, etc.) is someone who is a person first, with a life and friends and family and worries and hopes and dreams, and then someone I do business with. Even if we have not (yet?) met face to face, I found it is really worth remembering that I am dealing with people, by wishing them a good day or weekend or holiday, by letting them know when I won’t be available and why, in short: by treating them courteously and with respect. I want to be treated that way, too, after all. Because then I feel valued as a human being, not just someone who receives a task and returns a result, almost like a machine. And I’m pretty sure, they feel the same way…

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