Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sending Condolence to Clients, Customers, Colleagues

At the funeral home, it is common to receive floral arrangements from businesses. Occasionally, flowers arrive from doctors and medical practices.

While flowers are thoughtful and appreciated courtesies, can more be expressed to the family of your deceased clients and customers?

Business professionals may wonder...

  • He was a great customer but I didn't know much about him.
  • We used her catering service frequently, but I don't have his family's address.
  • I do her bookkeeping and tax preparation, but I wouldn't want to breach confidentiality.
  • We met networking; as a realtor, I'd love to have the listing if his wife wants to sell.
  • It was hard to watch him decline, so I'll just leave them in peace.
The Condolence Coach posed these concerns to Dan West, President and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. Although Dan is a champion for business, he links their success to active relationships with the community, its schools and the families of all concerned. 

He has attended many services, and observes, "Funerals are a deeply emotional and personal matter for the people involved, and that must be respected."  

While Dan values networking, he advises that condolence notes reflect "a personal relationship you have to the [deceased] person."  You should "sign cards and notes with your name, not that of the company."
He continues, "When writing such a note, keep the message simple and concise. No lecturing, no sermons, just a quick expression of condolences and let the person know you are thinking about them."

We are all connected. [Source]
The Condolence Coach suggests that you mention a quality of the deceased which you appreciated or admired... 

cheerful  prompt  organized  team spirit  creative  skilled  funny  patient  optimistic  friendly  good memory  kind  hard worker  disciplined caring generous  dependable

Dan is firmly against using a death as a prospecting opportunity:  "It's tacky." 

The Condolence Coach urges you avoid the stance of 'leaving the grieving in peace.'  It is rarely the best choice. If you can draw upon a personal connection, do so. It matters.

To read other posts discussing leaders, authorities, professions and condolence, please see these posts:
Doctors & Medical Practitioners: Charting Final Thoughts with Condolence
Ithaca College President Reaches Out With Condolence
POTUS Does It & So Should You: Condolence After a Suicide

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