Have you ever noticed how people want to work for and please people that they feel comfortable with?
I am a fairly outgoing person. I make a point of greeting people, smiling, and having eye contact, even with strangers. My cousin Jim puts me to shame. Jim has spent over 30 years in the construction industry. He’s been in management for quite some time now, but he earned his spurs as a glazier installing glass in skyscrapers in metropolitan Boston.
The work is demanding, and Jim and his crews spend most of their time exposed to the elements, often many stories above street level, in really cold weather. Jim has a reputation as one of the best in the business because he knows how to solve problems and he is relentlessly focused on customer service up and down the chain.
Whenever I am with Jim, it’s hard not to notice how he interacts with people. If we are in a restaurant, he casually chats up everyone from the host/hostess to the servers and cashiers. He’s not rude or inappropriate, just really engaging.
It’s the same thing in a retail store or just being out and about. If he is a repeat customer, everyone knows Jim. He will know their names, where they are from and typically makes a connection.
As a problem solver by nature, Jim is constantly assessing business processes. When he sees an issue, he is not shy about making suggestions on how to fix it. If a line of customers is not working right, Jim will mention it to a manager. If a server is stretched, Jim will let someone know.
You may think it can rub people the wrong way at times, but I have never observed that to be the case. My take away from Jim is that as long as you are sincere, people appreciate the human connection and it gives you an opportunity to improve a situation.
In our world of professional services, perhaps we can take a page from Jim the Glazier’s playbook. Do you have an opportunity to be a little more friendly and social? Maybe it can help you solve that problem more smoothly and get a smile in response.