Mike McGough
January 2023

Covid was still a matter of worry and fear. Gas prices were high and looking to go even higher, serving as a constant reminder that a recession was an ever-present concern. The political climate in the country was brimming with animas, mass shootings were a major factor driving crime-related distress, and international tensions constantly loomed like foreboding dark clouds.  There was plenty about which to be apprehensive.

He had two people on his email list for the day.   They were both routine contacts to check the progress of projects on which he was working with each of them.  He had worked with both of them for several years, and he had confidence in them.  They were both highly skilled at what they did, and they were essential players in his LLC.  Nonetheless, he also knew that one of the email exchanges would be more pleasant than the other. 

When he sent the first email, more than an hour passed before he received a reply. There was nothing earth-shatteringly important in his email, so an immediate reply wasn’t critical.  As usual, the information he requested was provided.  To clarify a few minor points, they exchanged emails over about a two-hour period.  Somewhere in each email there was either an indirect or a not-so-veiled reference to something that was causing her angst, concern, or worry about the current state of affairs in her world. 

Each time, he answered with what he hoped would be some bit of encouragement or at least a nugget of optimism.  Each time, his efforts went unanswered, so he assumed they also went unnoticed.  Even though she provided the information and the update he needed to continue on with the project, there wasn’t much else.  Good grief, there wasn’t anything else—these emails were lifeless. 

When their email chat ended, he was relieved.  Their interaction was uncomfortable, and it carried a measure of stress.  She had thrown a dash of cold water on what was starting out to be another nice day for him.  He felt bad for her, but at the same time, he was glad to move on.

His next contact was clearly going to be better than the first.  This agent’s proverbial glass is always at least half full.  He is knowledgeable, experienced, and he stays current, which keeps those he worked with current as well.  Additionally, he has a disposition that suits him well for the role he plays with the company for which he works. 

As a technical adviser, he frequently engages in one-on-one meetings with clients who have diverse needs, unique aims, and dramatically differing levels of technical competence.  That said, he has to be prepared to meet folks where they are and move them forward.  He is quite adept at that.  Oh sure, he provides the information and support needed, but in addition he provides friendly conversation, suggestions that are both helpful and positive, and he does it without pressure or making the client feel ill prepared for the conversation.

On this particular day, the client was inquiring about some rather complex changes to an existing website.  There would be additions, changes, and some unique upgrades.  Thanks in great part to this agent’s suggestions a few years ago, the website has become a nice addition to the client’s business profile.  It may not drive the business, but it is most certainly a solid addition.  If it was to continue to be, it needed some work. The client knew he was working with someone who could accomplish that task. 

They agreed that they would be back in touch within a month to set a specific time to begin work.  The agent gave the client some advice on how best to prepare for the updates and changes, and offered to be available, should the client need help before their meeting.   The client had known for some time that he was working with the right person.  This interaction clearly reaffirmed his thinking.

The last line of the final email in their conversation moved this client’s impression of this agent to a new level.  It read, “We all have so much to be thankful for even in these difficult times.”  Offered just nine days before Thanksgiving, it was crystal clear, this guy has so much more to offer than technical assistance and digital-age expertise.  He knows people, and he has strong interpersonal sensitivity, which makes working with him a pleasure! 

Regardless of what you do, technical skills, a level of expertise, and efforts to remain current in your field makes you competent.  When you add a positive outlook, a level of interpersonal responsiveness, and a commitment to sharing your time, you move from competent to becoming a true professional.   The choice is truly yours.

Thank you, Swiler!