Cepeda Carson, one of my fellow Toastmasters, gave his tenth speech this past week. In the Toastmasters program, completing 10 speeches is a milestone, a sort of graduation from beginning speaker to advanced speaker. Cepeda’s speech was titled Take the High Road. He began by asking the audience what they thought the “high road” meant. Since there are two meanings, 1) the easy road and 2) the ethical route, it was good to start by clarifying that he was going to speak about the ethical course.
He gave examples illustrating someone who didn’t take the high road, e.g., a supervisor who embarrassed an employee by publicly dressing him down. And then he told a story of a dance party he held when he was a teenager. After the party, three of his LPs were missing. The jackets were there, but the records were gone. He was fairly sure who had taken them, but his father had always told him to “take the high road” when there were difficulties between people. Cepeda chose not to confront the suspect. Instead, he mailed him the LP jackets with no note and no return address. He made his point without a low-road confrontation.
In business, there are numerous occasions when we can choose to take the high road or the low road in dealings with others. Cepeda’s point was that when we take the high road, we show respect for ourselves and for others. In the long run in the business world, respecting others with consistency will help you be more successful. No, the customer isn’t always right, but the way you treat customers, including the difficult ones, distinguishes you and becomes part of your “brand”.