Recently I had the privilege of traveling with my wifey to Colorado for a surprise 90th birthday celebration for her grandmother. The celebration was held months before her actual birthday when all the family was able to travel to one spot and it was a spectacular celebration in so many ways.
But, relevant to this blog, it was also very enlightening.
As part of our journey we rented a car. Nothing unusual. But before we even stepped up to the counter at Enterprise Rent A Car in Denver, all of the people behind the counter who weren't helping a customer looked up and welcomed us to Enterprise. I realize that even the bus driver, on the way over, was cracking jokes and being super polite to his passengers.
While one agent was helping us another offered us coffee or water and the manager swung by during our transaction to make sure all was going well. While I wasn't sure about the sincerity of the attitude at first, it was very clear that whoever was running this operation was doing an exceptional job of creating a warm, inviting and friendly atmosphere both for the customers and for the team members as well. As my agent took me outside we had a conversation about cars once it became obvious that I really liked them.
Outside he maintained his very positive attitude which is also unusual. Sometimes these attitudes are just fake and it becomes very obvious that this is so when the employee's attitude changes markedly once the manager's not watching. But Slobodon, our agent, was just as positive and upbeat away from the eyes of management. It was enough of a positive experience that it really stuck with me.
When we returned the car, the attitude was still there even if the faces had changed. It made something as uneventful as renting a car into a very positive experience. A positive and memorable one.
Do your team members purposely look up from the computers if a customer comes by? Do you greet them warmly at the door? Do they love their place of work because there is a sincere lack of stupidity on the part of management? A person's core feelings are very obvious to others and we've come to accept grouchy people in our lives.
For example, I had to rent a second car and Enterprise couldn't help me so I went to Hertz, also at Denver.
What a very different experience. First of all, the employees were holding closed conversations outside. The bus drivers were speaking with one another, the porters were doing the same. They didn't seem to care that we had that "lost" look as well as a bunch of heavy bags. Whatever personal conversations they were involved with seemed more important to them. You know, the people who get paid by my car rentals?
The counters facing the entry doors were closed - you had to mosey back to the far side of their larger building. That's where you encountered their line. A long, long line. Why would you close the most obvious counters?
Then there was a positive person who offered a high-tech solution to our problem with Skype kiosks on the other side of the building - where we had entered - if we would just follow her. I wasn't interested, I figure a real person would care more. I would continue to wait in line, much to my eventual disappointment.
Finally I got to a lady who just didn't care that I was there. She didn't say 'hello' or 'go jump in the lake,' her question was a one-worded one: "reservations?" Um, yeah, I had 'em but I needed to change them. She stared at her computer and typed away. I think she was writing War & Peace.
These people weren't warm, they didn't walk you out to the car as they did at Enterprise. They were just "on" while they were being paid. They didn't care - it was clear and obvious. So I wouldn't go back if I didn't have to.
Someone who was able to make decisions also sat at a kiosk with a very obvious "next window, please" sign in front of him. He didn't look up at all, but stared at his computer screen and was typing and grunting. When my disinterested clerk had a "big" question she went to Mr. Closed Kiosk to ask him. Apparently my appearance bore some relevance here because he had to give me a good stare and scowl before he was able to approve renting me a car to take across state lines.
What kind of impression are you giving your staff? How much do they care about you and your company? Are they enthusiastic and happy, or just there to do a job? If the answer is the latter, maybe it's time for a change. But that could also mean a change of ownership or leadership because happy people beget happy people.
And Oscar the Grouch loves to hang around with his own kind.
Here's an article that appeared on the Inc. website that's relevant to this very topic:
Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in.
We can't always define it, but some people have it: They're naturally charismatic.
Unfortunately, natural charisma quickly loses its impact. Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.
But some people are remarkably charismatic: They build and maintain great relationships, consistently influence (in a good way) the people around them, consistently make people feel better about themselves--they're the kind of people everyone wants to be around...and wants to be.
Fortunately we can, because being remarkably charismatic isn't about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project--it's about what we do.
Here are the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people:
1. They listen way more than they talk.
Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond--not so much verbally, but nonverbally.
That's all it takes to show the other person they're important.
Then when you do speak, don't offer advice unless you're asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them.
Don't believe me? Who is "Here's what I would do..." about: you or the other person?
Only speak when you have something important to say--and always define important as what matters to the other person, not to you.
2. They don't practice selective hearing.
Some people--I guarantee you know people like this--are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.
Sure, you speak to them, but that particular falling tree doesn't make a sound in the forest, because there's no one actually listening.
Remarkably charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or "level," feel like we have something in common with them.
Because we do: We're all people.
3. They put their stuff away.
Don't check your phone. Don't glance at your monitor. Don't focus on anything else, even for a moment.
You can never connect with others if you're busy connecting with your stuff, too.
Give the gift of your full attention. That's a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.
4. They give before they receive--and often they never receive.
Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.
Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person, and you show that the only person who really matters is you.
5. They don't act self-important…
The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people.
The rest of us aren't impressed. We're irritated, put off, and uncomfortable.
And we hate when you walk in the room.
6. …Because they realize other people are more important.
You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspectives and points of view.
That stuff isn't important, because it's already yours. You can't learn anything from yourself.
But you don't know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who they are, knows things you don't know.
That makes them a lot more important than you--because they're people you can learn from.
7. They shine the spotlight on others.
No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well.
Wait, you say you don't know what they did well?
Shame on you--it's your job to know. It's your job to find out ahead of time.
Not only will people appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they're doing.
Then they'll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important.
8. They choose their words.
The words you use impact the attitude of others.
For example, you don't have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don't have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don't have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness.
You don't have to interview job candidates; you get to select a great person to join your team.
We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves--and make you feel better about yourself, too.
9. They don't discuss the failings of others...
Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt.
The problem is, we don't necessarily like--and we definitely don't respect--the people who dish that dirt.
Don't laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them. (No they don't - they know you also laugh at them).
10. ...But they readily admit their failings.
Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they're successful. Their success seems to create a halo effect, almost like a glow.
Keyword is seem.
You don't have to be incredibly successful to be remarkably charismatic. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have all the charisma of a rock.
But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic.
Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself.
While you should never laugh at other people, you should always laugh at yourself.
People won't laugh at you. People will laugh laugh with you.
They'll like you better for it--and they'll want to be around you a lot more.