"How was your weekend?" the banker asked me.
"Very nice," I said. "And yours?"
"Not long enough."
(so many low-hanging-fruit opportunities to improve)
I bump into this kind of thing too often. I'm guessing you do too.
It happened to me again the other night at a grocery store. (Can't share the name. We love our grocery store customers.)
A big snow was expected which led to a pretty busy day for the team. How did I know? I heard two people at the back of the store venting about the volume of customers during the day and how silly it was they wanted to stock up on groceries. I wasn't hiding around a corner eavesdropping. I was shopping amongst them.
On my way out, I got one for the road while scanning at the self-checkout. "Only an hour and 40 minutes to go," one teammate shared with another.
I'm glad I had a mask covering most of my face so he didn't have to see my look of disgust. Strong word but given my line of work, these things amplify for me.
I understand tough days. I understand not everyone enjoys their work. I understand small talk clichés.
But no one should complain about work in front of their customer or to their customer. Or, as with the banker, suggest to a customer that they'd like to be doing anything other than helping them. Ever. (customer = whoever makes it possible for you to eat)
Why does it happen?
I think it's more a lack of preparation and reinforcement than anything else. I believe most adults don't want to be seen or heard whining or complaining.
If you lead a team of people who face or work around a customer, invest some time with them every day. Remind them to be pleasant during the money hours (the time they're contributing to the value you provide to others). Your good people ... your Smovers ... involve them in the effort (the third point to Leading Simply). Let them help you encourage people.
As for those small talk moments, develop replacement statements for the clichés like the banker shared ... statements that help everyone say something useful or thought-provoking rather than something a Gomo or D-grunt might say. (What are Gomos and D-grunts?)
Then, remember to remind people often to use those replacement statements just as you're reminding them to be pleasant during the money hours. (The need for solid and ongoing reinforcement never ... ever, ever, ever ... ends. Remembering this is critical.)
Other typical statements to avoid are below my signature. See how many you've heard before.
If you lead only yourself, remember that you want more choices (more choices = more fun... and more choices come from better work, more focus, and care).
Never say these sad talk things and be sure not to post your countdown to the weekend on Facebook, Unless of course, you'd prefer less choices ... which isn't the case if you've read this far ... you're likely a 212er or a Smover.
More sad talk to avoid with your customers...
- I'm so ready for the weekend.
- Thank God it's Friday.
- I've got a bad case of the Mondays.
- Only a few more hours.
- I'm ready for this day to be over.
- Can't wait to be off.
- I'll be better when my shift/ this day is over/ I get my coffee.
- Hump Day! Only two days 'till Friday!
- It's too hot/ cold/ warm/ wet/ rainy/ sunny/ snowy.
- I'm tired.
The picture above ... years ago (when phones were tiny) I was posting something to Instagram and tagging the location. I chose InspireYourPeople.com and noticed the sad little place someone created on their own ... another bad idea.