the kindness of co-workers

I work in outside sales. I love that I don’t go into an office everyday. On occasion, I miss the Monday morning catch-up or the water-cooler conversation. For the most part I don’t miss that day-to-day interaction with co-workers. It’s just never been that important to me. I much prefer the randomness of my days and getting to converse with a variety of people. The downside to all of this is you never quite develop great relationships with your co-workers. Sure I see them on occasion; we work together on a semi-regular basis. But, it’s rare that I have the feeling that a co-worker’s “got my back.” Recently this all changed.

Earlier this year I was working with a potential client. Things were going along as expected–there were a few bumps and set-backs but everything was progressing smoothly. Then, without notice, they seemed to fall of the face of the earth. I couldn’t get a response via phone or email, my co-worker experienced the exact same thing. I just chalked it up to a lost client. Not something I like, but something that happens in sales.

Then just as suddenly this client was back calling and emailing. However, this time they were irate. Why wasn’t anybody calling them back? Where was their contract? What had happened? I started the process again and thought things were moving along. Until the day I received that awful email! I have never been spoken to via email or in person the way this client spoke to me. There was nasty language (stuff that would make a sailor blush!), inaccurate accusations and phrases that weren’t meant to be nothing more than hurtful and rude. I was shocked and decided then I was through with this customer. Fortunately, my co-worker felt the same way and so we were through.

Boy was I wrong! Here we are 3 months later. That client has now signed a contract (for which I will get all the benefit) and has started using my product. The thing is, I haven’t spoken to this customer since June when that nasty email was sent. As it turns out, this client contacted my co-worker a few weeks ago. This kind gentleman took over the contract negotiations and closing of the deal (knowing he wouldn’t make a penny off of it) so I wouldn’t have to work with this client again. His actions almost brought me to tears when I heard. Not only did he negotiate the contract. I also learned that upon visiting this client again he informed them their actions and word were inappropriate, they had no right to speak to me that way and if they ever felt the need to use that kind of language they could speak to him directly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty tough girl who can take care of herself. But to have someone defend me that way was unexpected and truly appreciated.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a co-worker (even ones that I’ve had a great relationship with and saw everyday) treat me so well. This guy is a gem! If he treats me this way, I can only imagine how he treats his wife. How do you express gratitude for such kind actions? I did send him & his wife a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants with a kind note. But, it just doesn’t seem like enough. To be honest, I’m not sure I could ever repay this small act of kindness. I only hope that some day I’m able to pass along this same type of kindness to someone else.