I’m beginning to think people are slowly forgetting how to interact with others.
Of course, there are those times around family and friends, or in workplace situations, where interacting with those around us is either pleasurable or necessary. But, outside of those two situations, I think we have gotten so self-reliant and self-absorbed that we have lost our way in other social situations.
In this day and age, with our focus riveted to cell phone texting and tweets, phone calls in the middle of places that when they happen make a person look like they are talking to themselves, or our focus on the myriad of tasks we feel compelled to complete, we are tuning out the people whom we come in contact with in public places. And this has been going on for quite some time now.
But, as I make my way into hospitals, restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and many other retailers, I’ve started making eye contact with the people I encounter in those places. When they talk to me, I look them in the eye. I do the same when I thank someone for something, and I wait for them to really look me in the eye too. It is remarkable how much this two-second acknowledgement of their existence has on their mood. There’s this unmistakable change in their whole persona. When I go out to dinner with my wife, and the wait staff for our table greet us for the first time, I look them in the eye as we talk, and I ask their name. Their reaction to this is a window into the numbers of people who interact with them much as they do the tablecloth, the napkin, and the tableware in front of them. Wait staff are people, not a part of the building’s construction material.
If you are in customer service in any of the establishments I’ve mentioned, or are an employee in a city or state office that deals with the public, I think you know exactly the type of treatment customers can send your way. And if you’re not, ask someone who is.
So, my request today is simple, and one to which I think you’ll receive a pleasant response. Next time you interact with a customer service rep., take a few seconds to acknowledge their existence, hold their gaze as you speak to them, and you might just make their day, and possibly yours!