I am a big fan of Bob Dylan. Well his music, anyway.
Other people, not quite so much. A member of the Swedish Academy that recently offered Mr Dylan the Nobel Prize has accused Bob of being both rude and arrogant.
Apparently Bob had refused to return phone calls or even acknowledge the offer and spurned the academy rather as one would spurn a rabid dog! As the Daily Mail reported, to accuse Bob Dylan of being rude is like attacking Humpty Dumpty for being an egg. He is legendary for his ambivalence towards fans. He turns his back on them and grunts between songs in his live shows on stage. In person he is no better.
One fan reportedly met Dylan in a hotel foyer and excitedly said, “You don’t know who I am but I know who you are”, was met with the quick but remarkably sharp retort, “Let’s keep it that way”, from Dylan.
When I was a student I had the pleasure of being a bouncer at the University Hall gigs. I was thrilled when Van Morrison was booked to play, and I had the job of escorting my hero to his car after the event. He was frankly less than thrilled to have my gushing review of what I thought was a great concert, and dismissed me with a wave of his hand. Never bought an album of his since.
How we react to people in public and indeed, in private, will impact on our personal brand.
How we corporately treat our people and customers has a similar effect. In both the short and long term. I was reading in the Harvard Business Review (bit of intellectual name dropping here) about a report that said that executives who had been working at Volkswagen and who were looking for new roles in new jobs, and who had not even been at the business when the emissions scandal hit in September 2015, were scarred by the event. One managing director who rejected a VW candidate out of hand, claimed the appointment would be too risky. Executives with scandal- tainted companies on their CVs pay a penalty on the job market.
"What has this got to do with negotiation?" I hear you say.
Well, everything, in my view. We live in a world where your integrity is critical to your success. How you behave in business and in the deals that you do and the way you operate impacts on your brand, and I, for one, am keen to keep that intact. I am not saying that I do not make mistakes, but I try when possible to do the right thing and treat people how I would like to be treated.
Dylan’s mother was a big influence on his life, as all mothers are. When she was alive and with her son at a dinner thrown after one of his shows, she told him off for mumbling, and not thanking the host for the lovely dinner.
I suspect if Dylan’s mother had been around she would have made him call the academy back and thank them for the award.
For the rest of us, acting like your mother was watching, in many aspects of life, would ensure we put less feet wrong.
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