The Power of Lunch (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

When I was the #1 Salesperson for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, I sold thousands of tickets each year to individuals, non-profit associations, youth groups, and corporations.  One of the benefits of my job was that I fortunately did not have to mail these tickets out on my own.  Instead, that was the responsibility of the box office, a group of 3-4 employees in the customer service department.

While my salary was directly tied to how much revenue I generated for the company (i.e. how many tickets I sold), the compensation package for the box office was fixed.  In other words, there was a strong financial incentive for me to sell more tickets, but there was no financial incentive for the box office to mail more tickets.  Needless to say, I was not always the most popular person in the box office.  As a result of my sales efforts, a lot of extra work was created for them.

Despite the fact that I always respected my box office colleagues, there were times nearly every day when I would need them to drop what they were doing to help me mail out tickets.  As a result, there was definitely tension developing between myself and the director of the box office at that time, a woman named Sharon. 

One day, I got a bright idea.  I decided that I would take the box office to lunch as a thank you for all of the work they did for me.  My sole objective was to show them that I appreciated their hard work.  However, something else happened that day.  We got to spend 1 hour together outside of the office in a relaxed environment, where we got to know each other, and where they got to see that I was actually a human being!  I probably looked more like a machine during much of the work day, as I systematically moved from task to task and from sale to sale. 

That one lunch (a “cost” to me of $9 per person) completely changed the relationship I had with several of my colleagues, and I remain friends with them to this day, several years after we have all moved on to different companies.

Do you have a colleague at work that you would like to build a stronger relationship with?  Then, ask the person if he/she would like to join you for lunch one day.  For less than $10, you can get a new ally and maybe even a new friend.

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

Explore posts in the same categories: Dealing With Difficult People, Professional Relationships

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