Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself

I was reading the other day about a company which is “cleaning up” its unwanted external links (presumably because it has a potential spam problem in Google) by issuing legal notices. Really, this is not a good idea: legal notices rarely are, although the lawyers (stroking their wallets) will tell you otherwise. On a couple of occasions in my career I have received letters from lawyers acting on behalf of companies which could easily have contacted me directly. Both times, I complied with the request, which was fairly trivial (and not unreasonable), but got so angry about the way the company had acted that I resolved never to have any dealings with them again. Indeed, as I was in a position to actively hurt their business (e.g as a magazine editor, by refusing to write about them any more), I did just that.

The moral of the story, if there is one, is always to try to resolve issues in the most amicable way possible. From intellectual property infringers to late payers, reach for the phone first, not the legal profession. It’s cheaper, and one day you might be very glad you did. Treat your customers (and indeed any business contacts) as you’d like to be treated yourself, because they probably “network” just as much as you do, and you may never know what they’ve said and done about you.

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