I had to have emergent abdominal surgery in April, and my recovery was difficult. To give myself some breathing room, I decided to not talk with anyone about new work or new opportunities till the beginning of July. Everyone who wrote to me about one of those two things received an email to see if talking in July would meet their needs, and I reached out in July to those who wanted to wait.

One woman scheduled a time to talk with me, but didn’t call at the appointed time. Because I know that emergencies happen, I waited ten minutes (my standard), before emailing her quickly to let her know and to ask if she was ok before I turned my attention to something else. I always send that kind of note, first, because it gives a person the benefit of the doubt, and opens the door for her to show me something about herself in her reply.

When this woman wrote back, I was truly pleased to see that she was fine (it’s the only thing that matters, really), and truthfully annoyed to learn that she had been talking to her pet sitter and had lost track of time. There was no apology or indication of feeling badly that my time was wasted.

Another woman missed her call with me, too. When she wrote back, she was clearly horrified (no exaggeration!), and sent the most gracious and lovely apology note I think I’ve ever received. She got it, and knew how to make it right with me.

What do you think I learned about these women from their replies? And who do you think I have a relationship with?

Is this meant to be a lesson about having strong standards so that you don’t sit and wait for someone who might not show up? Nope (although that’s a good thing to have!). Is this meant to be a lesson in time management or gracious apologies? Not really, although the underpinning of that is part of the lesson.

And that underpinning is really a simple concept: be responsible to people and to your relationships with them (prospective, current, and past relationships). More; if you want to be respected, be respectful; what goes around really does come around.

To Be Respected, Be Respectful

The best way to do those things is to be your word: do what you say you will. And, for those times when it’s impossible? Learn how to make genuine apologies for missing the mark, and apologize just as quickly as you can after you’ve missed or messed something up.

When you behave as if the other person’s time, energy, and very being are of the utmost importance to you, when you’re polite and considerate, when you’re a person who can be counted on, and when you show respect, it’s amazing how much easier life gets, and how relationships bloom.

It’s what you, my friends, need to be doing in your practices. I understand that you’re probably juggling many things and more than a few clients. But flakes, and people who are disrespectful, don’t often keep the clients; heck, they don’t even often get the clients. I want you to get the amazing clients you deserve, and nurture the relationships so that you stay in them for years and years.