Paying More Attention
I find myself replaying conversations in my mind a lot. Usually they are the small, seemingly insignificant conversations that come back to me at odd times, as I’m driving or before I fall asleep at night. When my mind is free to think, it often revisits bits of interaction which at first appear ordinary. Recently I’ve come to believe that these replays are no accident and that I’m supposed to be paying more attention. So here I am.
I’ve never been real good with the whole idea of sucking up…you know, people who un-genuinely compliment you, or worse, yes you to death. A couple times in the recent past, I’ve had people I see pretty often approach me with a smile and say ‘Oh, I didn’t know you held such and such position with a certain organization!’ as if, somehow, finding out this new bit of information about me has made me more likable and worthy of kindness. That the smile and the tone were very different than the ones I usually see and hear put me on edge. Knowing they had something to gain (theoretically) by ingratiating themselves made my radar go wonky.
The Respect Pyramid
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed these changeling behaviors before. In discussing the idea of customer service, I often use this example: I’ve walked in the office of my homeowner’s association as a renter, as a homeowner, as a member of the Board of Directors, and as President of the HOA, and noticed a distinct difference in how I was treated in each circumstance. With the former being treated as someone slightly better than a slug and at each each subsequent ‘level’, the treatment got a little better, culminating in the latter scenario where I felt I got the red-carpet treatment.
We have since fixed that problem, as excellent customer service demands that everyone walking through the door be treated like they are the President, but, again, it got me to thinking.
Lowly Assistant v. Worthy Boss-Man
Another example…years ago, in working as an Assistant to a real estate broker, I handled a lot of client calls which included the occassional unhappy customer. Many times I would be astounded at how the caller spoke to me on the phone and then changed their tune when the Broker got on the phone. It was ok to be nasty and rude to the Assistant, but when the ‘important person’ got on the phone, civility returned. WTH?
I wonder, do I treat people differently based on who they are, or what they look like (see Susan Boyle), or by what I think they might be able to do for me? Gosh, I hope not, but I’m afraid I might. I will have to pay closer attention to that.