Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Favor the Personal

I was astounded as I stood in line at a local department store, waiting somewhat impatiently for the clerk to help me. I stood in line, the sole person vying for her attention, for about 15 minutes while the clerk continued to take several phone calls in favor of helping me. So what's so astounding about that - it happens all the time! Here's what it is - we have come to favor the impersonal over personal. The clerk was favoring the people who wanted to connect via technology rather than helping the person who took the extra step to come into the store. As I observed this, I realized that it's not just in retail environments that technology seems to interrupt personalized face-to-face interactions. How often have you been having an in-person conversation with someone, only to be "put on hold" for a phone call or text? Or perhaps it's you who does it to others? Why is it that when our phones ring we have an emotional reaction that tells us we are so important that we must see what someone needs from us in that very moment, completely disregarding the people around us? With all the emailing, texting, phoning, IMing, etc, it seems to me that we should take advantage of every opportunity to connect with people face-to-face and develop relationships with co-workers, customers, friends, and family. The best business people, the best friends, the best spouses will be those who learn to favor the personal over the impersonal and remain present in all in-person conversations. 

The moral of the story: Turn your phone on silent, put the phone calls on hold when a customer comes into your store, favor the personal. 

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