I missed my evening connection at the airport, but that doesn’t compare to the amount of “missed connections” I witnessed during my layover.
1. Recognizing the missed flight was out of my control, I chose to let it go and instead enjoy a hot beverage from Starbucks before digging through email. The long line didn’t take me by surprise, but the cashier’s continuously loud and abrupt, “Next!” startled more than just me. I considered changing my name after the third time same cashier said, “huh?” before attempting to scribble on the cup’s side. After paying, I joined the collection of others milling around the end counter where three completed beverages sat waiting for someone to claim. It wasn’t long before a male barista plunked down a forth cup while managing to avoid everyone’s gaze and mumbled what I interpreted as “decaf dark.” Noticing the venti size cup, I turned the beverage to see a version of my scribbled name and grabbed my drink while thinking, “Starbuck’s customer service stinks.”
Yes, I’m aware that airport Starbucks are owned by a food service management company rather than the corporation. Yet, when it comes to connecting with the brand, it’s nearly impossible not to lump them together. After all, I’m staring at their logo while the employees chose not to create a connection with me through something as simple as paying attention to my name, an inviting smile, warm tone, and eye contact.
You are your own brand both on and off the clock. In your busy day, what lasting impressions are you leaving with others when you connect…or don’t?
2. I’m fascinated with human behavior which means I eavesdrop often! Therefore, I couldn’t help but overhear three colleagues debriefing an earlier sales meeting with a customer. “Here’s what we should do based on what happened today,” said the most boisterous of the three. His colleagues patiently waited for him to finish before adding their two cents. Mr. Boisterous continued to interrupt them numerous times, before repeatedly telling them what they needed to do.
Savvy sales people know telling isn’t selling, nor is it a way to build a connection. Effective sales people genuinely listen to and acknowledge other’s opinions. For that matter, so do leaders, team members and parents.
If you want others to listen to you, you must listen to others. Mind your steps and stop stepping on other’s sentences. Let go of being right and get it right by making others feel heard. Draw others out with phrases such as, “Tell me more,” or “Mmm, why do you say that?”
3. Given airline apps, frequent flyers receive updated flight information prior to boarding. With many travelers waiting at the same gate, this translates into a symphony of smart phones collectively alerting passengers to yet another delay. Certain travelers take the news in stride, while others feel the need to dramatically share their disgust and disappointment. One particular businessman I witnessed revisited the counter with loud sighs and continuous demands to know EXACTLY when the plane would be arriving at the gate.
Although I give the gate agent props for remaining composed, what I didn’t see or hear was any compassion for this frustrated customer. Rather, she kept repeating, “You have just as much information as I do at this point, sir,” leaving him unsatisfied. Perhaps prefacing her response with, “I can’t even imagine how frustrated you must be given the plane was supposed to depart two hours ago,” could have led to a different result.
Why? Empathy is the fastest way to connect with another. Yet, the tough thing about empathy is finding it for people who don’t have it. I encourage you to find it anyway and model the behavior to show others the way.
May you maximize your relationships, revenue and results by never missing an opportunity to turn everyday interactions into positive emotional connections!