Today Joanne and I have been married for 37 years and when people find out we are always asked the same thing …

What’s the secret?

There is no secret!  We made a conscious and deliberate decision that we would never display contempt within our marriage.  

We came across some research many many years ago from The Gottman Institute.  Dr John Gottman had identified the four conflict patterns that were most antagonistic to marriage stability – contempt, criticism, stonewalling and defensiveness.  Of the four, contempt was the most destructive.

Now I can hear you asking, what does this have to do with selling?  Stay with me …

Contempt comes from a place of superiority and makes others feel inferior. It can take the form of verbal or non-verbal language, which can include sarcasm, mockery, and disapproving facial gestures. Sometimes, people are unaware of what they do or say, especially contemptuous gestures like an eye roll or chuckle that elicits the other person’s negative reaction. 

In mature workplaces, there is no room for contempt – even when it is hidden behind humour.

Sadly, we see contempt displayed in so many ways, often treated as throw away comments preceded by something like “no offence intended but …”

I have often challenged business leaders to remove all contempt from their culture and they usually tell me they have no contempt in their culture … until we dig deeper – usually resulting in them being embarrassed and horrified.

In today’s world, we need to make prospects safer with us at every step of the sales process, rather than making them feel less than worthy with us.  We need to make our customers feel protected and significant, through the way we deliver our services to them, rather than as though they are an annoyance to us. Lastly, as leaders, we need to make team members feel truly valued rather than disposable.

My question is, what one thing can you change in your business today, that might be a small area of contempt that just doesn’t need to be there?