I have a good friend who talks about how important it is that people take your call. He said that you have to have the trust and the good will developed so that “people will pick up the phone when you need them; you want them to take your call.”
I thought about this a lot this week. It was a good feeling when I walked into congressional offices and the staff remembered me (positively too!). I felt secure that if I called, they’d pick up the phone and actually listen. That’s a slow process, building that trust and relationship so that if I call, they know it’s for a good reason, that I’m not wasting their time or blowing smoke. The Hardwood Federation’s done a good job in getting known on the Hill. When we walked in, the people listened and they believed the info we gave them about the industry. And where they can help, they will. We had one staffer jump on a question immediately—we had an email with details and a pledge to help less than an hour after leaving the office. That’s pretty amazing. (Shout out to Logan!)
I think a lot of people will start out giving the benefit of the doubt to the people they meet. Sure, someone in a position of power or of wealth might be a little suspicious of someone asking for something, but in this industry, most of us are willing to help others. But at some point, you have to return the favor. That occurred to me when I got an email this weekend from someone in the industry with a compliance related question. This was perhaps the third or fourth time they had reached out and asked for help. They received a brief basic answer, but this time I refused to go into a lot of details and was even a bit snarky in my response. Why? Because they had reached out several times, but had never given back.
I had previously suggested a variety of ways they could support the industry or help others and they never took those suggestions. They only reached out when they needed something. They’ve slowly moved into the position where ok, I may not just flat out hanging up on them, but no, I’m not “taking their call,” at least not to the best of my ability.
I believe generally that yes, “what goes around comes around,” but I more frequently say “you get out of it what you put into it.” People ask me “do you really get a benefit from that association worth those dues?” And my response is that “I give a lot more than just the dues and I get back a lot more too.” You can’t always just take or people will stop giving. You can’t always buy good responses. You get a reputation of only taking, people won’t answer your calls.
I found a good summary of givers vs. takers vs. matchers which I recommend reading. You know the old saying, “takers may eat better, but givers sleep better?” Well this suggests that givers may both eat and sleep better, if they do it right! And certainly givers will probably also have their phone calls taken.
Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.