We are headed into the most important retail season of the year. In fact, this season is so important, many businesses stake their entire year on November-December sales.

Well gang, we’re in a recession. It’s a deep one and it’s a bad one. I told you it was coming a year before anyone else. I also said the toll would lessen by election day. I might have missed that one but I do think things will get better from here out. At least things will get better for a while.

Recessions don’t last forever.  Duh. If that’s such an obvious statement, why do so many businesses treat their customers like it’s the end of the world?

Miss a credit card payment? Those same companies that were daily cramming your mailbox with low interest offers are now raising your rates to 30% and threatening to break your knee caps. When you get your new job or your next big deal—and I know you will—are you going to dump the guys that jacked up your rates when you hit a bump in the financial road of life? You should. And you probably will.

Will you stick with that supplier who demanded immediate payment when your invoice hit day 31 of net 30?

No, don’t be Santa Claus and give away the store. But don’t be a jerk. Your clients, your customers, are struggling too. Look for ways to work together. Stop with the threats. Stop with the crappy treatment. Stop with the attitude—-CAN YOU HEAR ME AT&T? When this recession ends, and people once again have a choice, will they choose you? You had better make sure they do or your days will be numbered. A business can outlast a recession, but, it may never overcome a bad reputation.

Tis the season to be nicer. Nicer is smarter.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]