Last nite I attended a dinner where VVVVVVIPs were in attendance. Obviously I was also invited to attend otherwise I would not have gone. The invitation came by email and I RSVPed not once but twice.
Despite all that, upon arrival at the dinner my name was not in the seating arrangements. (This has happened before). So there was no table number. I was actually invited by folks close to last nite's function who insisted that I sit with them. (Thats what friends are for).
Then even the names of the folks who I was to be seated was not on the right table. Three different tables were mentioned. To cut a long story short, we eventually got seated.
But what was perplexing is the attitude of people who are charged with sorting things out at the registration counters. In Malaysia there is a distinct lack of friendliness among many (many means majority) towards people on the other side of the desk. This is more true if the other person is of a different colour, race, religion or language grouping. Sometimes the attitude is almost of enmity.
There is no realisation that the 50 year olds or 60 year olds wearing suits and ties, with the ladies all dressed up were their guests, their clients who had come there upon their invitation.
I see this problem throughout Malaysia (and the Islamic countries) and I have written about this before. Dont believe me? The whole Arab Spring began after Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia set himself on fire because he did not get good counter service. He could not get a license to sell his vegetables - possibly because he could not afford the bribes that were needed. So he ran an unlicensed vegetable stall. Then when his vegetables were confiscated by a woman enforcement officer, it broke the final straw for Bouazizi. He set himself on fire. The Arab Spring followed thereafter.
People do not realise that to do anything in this world you need human beings. We cannot organise dinners for Bonabo chimpanzees. Neither can we sell electric ovens to kambing Jamnapari. Whatever we do, we do it with human beings - our own species. So if you are not friendly or nice to your fellow human being - especially your clients and customers - you are going to lose your business or whatever venture it is that you are managing. You will fail.
If you cannot understand this simple point - then forever you will be poor. If you are not nice to them, people will shun from interacting with you - especially in business. Since time is limited and life has to go on people will take their business elsewhere. You will lose out.
Here is another example - when the Rear Admiral was running in the Permatang Pauh By Election (after his release from jail) a friend and I drove from KL to Permatang Pauh to scout around and see what we could do (obviously for BN). I recall when we reached the UMNO campaign centre one guy looked at us with a sideways glance and said, 'Nak apa?', as though we were alien intruders. This was the most unfriendly guy given the task of manning the BN information counter in the middle of a By Election.
This is another example of the 'pelanggan kita musuh kita' or 'our clients are our enemies' philosophy that is so prevalent in this country.
And we see this behaviour hundreds and thousands of times at restaurants, service counters, some Gomen departments (not all - some Gomen departments are fantastic. EPF, Immigration, GLCs like TNB provide super excellent service at the counter). A friend describes how the waiter disappeared after taking only a partial order, while my friend was still talking to the waiter.
Before we think about Blue Ocean Strategies, competitive advantages, comparative advantages, creating a commercial and industrial community etc I think we should teach this simple one line philosophy in all our schools, starting from Primary 1 : 'Pelanggan kita bukan musuh'.
To expand this a little more, maybe we could teach them this one liner also : "Human beings are not our natural enemies".
This seems to be the attitude everywhere : The customers are actually our enemies. Pelanggan kita adalah musuh kita. Or human beings are our natural enemies.
So we dont have to be friendly towards them. Neither do we have to serve them. Hence we remain poor.