Last week, I asked an experienced salesman which customers are the “assholes” of his profession. He had a great answer: “When I started in the business I am currently in, over 30 years ago now, a senior sales person heard me call me someone an asshole (I thought I had only said it to myself just after hanging up on a particularly frustrating call). He asked me to explain why I used that term and I did. He then corrected my usage as in our industry "asshole" had a very specific meaning: It should only be used to refer to someone that has negotiated strongly for a particular line item and then, once it was agreed to, decided that he didn’t want it anyway.”
I like this little story because, when a customer leaves behind a trail of salespeople who feel spent, de-energized, and demeaned, he or she qualifies as an asshole in my book. Also note a key nuance: Assholes aren’t always overtly demeaning, some of the worst of these jerks do their dirty work without uttering an unkind word and raising their voices – but they leave their victims feeling disrespected, demeaned, and abused anyway. Some of the most destructive assholes entice their victims with smiles, warmth, and compliments, setting the trap before stabbing them in the back.