Back in 2007 I worked for a Call Centre, based in Cape Town, selling BT (British Telecoms) products to UK citizens, while the head office was in High Wycombe. I was fortunate enough to have a sales guru, larger than life (in more ways than one), as sales manager. I’m not sure whether he will want to named, so for the sake of this port, we will call him John.
Whenever John walked into the room, everyone paid attention – his physique large enough to cast shadows; his booming voice enough to make anyone jump. The term “work hard and play hard”, was invented with John in mind. He is the only person I have ever seen who can drink an entire beer in three gulps! There was not a single person who would dare to ignore John. If you did well he would make you feel like a king. If you screwed up, however, you would know about it. I learned a great deal for this man, not only about sales, but also about life and our approach to fellow human beings.
Unfortunately the World Economic Crisis kicked in and they decided to close the branch in SA. Let me tell you one thing though, if given the opportunity to work for him again, I would do it in a heartbeat! I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and will forever be grateful for what he taught me.
One of his pet-peeves was the word “Basically” (sorry John, I shudder to just type it), which is also the word I would like to ban from the English dictionary, if given the power. John taught us that using the B-word is an insult to the other person’s intelligence. In using the word, you are diminishing their thinking capacity and implying that they are just too stupid to understand.
Working in a call centre environment with a lot of people who have to interact with clients for the entire day, how would he then get us to stop using the word? Simple! Every time someone used the word, you would be summoned and, with a white board marker, he would write the letter B on your face. You would have to walk around with that mark on your face the entire day. Say it again, and you would get another B, and so it went. Thank you to Luke who grudgingly volunteered to let me use him as an example! I remember one day when one chap ended up with something like 13 B’s on his face. By the end of the day he was so furious, the color of his face matched the red of the marker. He never used the word again after that day.
To this day, I read and re-read my posts to check that I have not included the word by accident. When someone uses it in conversation with me, I remember John and I see red. I quite literally want to run for the nearest marker!