I recently watched a television commercial in which a businessman sitting at a gate in an airport terminal is so consumed by what he's doing that he doesn't acknowledge a friendly gesture being extended by another traveler. The screen then superimposes words that describe the consequences of this missed opportunity: "That was a $40MM deal".
When I first saw this, I was amused by what I perceived to be its implausibility. After all, stuff like that doesn't really happen in real life, does it? It does. The messages we and others send, either consciously or unconsciously, will be processed by the recipients, sometimes in unintended ways. A couple of weeks ago, I personally experienced a situation where I was poised to extend a professional courtesy to an entrepreneur I'd met...but I decided against it after he made a couple of offhand remarks during our conversation. I am certain that he doesn't realize what he missed out on or why.
Up until the point where the entrepreneur made comments that turned me off, I had been impressed by him and his value proposition. My enthusiasm for his offering was sufficiently strong that I was about to offer to introduce him to a couple of high quality investor resources (which, based on other comments he made would have been appealing to him). However, upon considering his remarks, which I interpreted as arrogance versus simple confidence, I decided against it. I felt that this type of person could potentially be perceived negatively by my investor contacts and therefore I decided against extending the offer. It is possible that I misinterpreted the intent of his comments, but that is how it is when one meets new people. We only get one chance to make a favorable first impression. His ill chosen remarks soured my otherwise positive impression of him, causing me to not extend an offer that could have benefitted him and his business.
The lesson is that in business situations (in particular), where there may not be a long relationship history and "emotional bank account", every comment or action we (or others) make may be scrutinized much more intently than might occur otherwise. An ill chosen remark may be sufficient to unintentionally alter the course of the relationship. So, when in doubt, exercise discretion.