The Best Gift is a Smileby Mary Sheehan Warren on 12/13/11
Last month I had the privilege of signing books at four Northern California clothing stores. In the ebb and flow of customer traffic, I had many chances to witness first-hand what sales associates experience in their day to day. I gained a new respect for these women as they moved from the basic need to sell clothing to customers , to the genuine desire to help these customers look fantastic. I watched faces light up with the thrill of finding something that
works, and I heard conversations on the possibilities of feeling confident in beautiful clothing.
But for every pleasant face, cheerful comment, or engaging conversation, there was a slew of sullen sourpusses. Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows exactly about whom I speak: The woman (or man) who walks into the store, ignores the cheerful "Hello, welcome to..." and shifts to the merchandise as if she's coming way down in her standards to sift through your racks of rags. And, in a nasty ironic twist, the number of these types increase once the Christmas decorations are hung.
This got me thinking about myself as a shopper. Do I glower when I walk into a store? Do I view sales people as no more than pesky store-gnomes out to get my money?
Do I walk in thinking, "Oh no...I don't want to have to talk. I just wanna grab the goods, pay up, and get the hec out of here!"?
While she might be thinking, "My son's cold is getting worse, maybe I should have kept him home today...but I can't miss another day of work...Is that scratchiness I feel in my throat?...Oh Lord, my health insurance sure stinks...Did that woman just glower at me like I'm the enemy?"
Well, wouldn't it be nice to let our service related friends know that we don't think they're the enemy.Wouldn't it be wonderful to spread a bit of Christmas cheer among the people who help to accommodate our need to shop, ship, or pay the water bill?
Yes? Then smile! That one simple bit of connection shows that you see her as a human being who's on your side. I promise you'll get a smile right back - even though her feet hurt or her son is sick or her health insurance stinks. (And, if you don't get a smile back, give a bigger smile and let it sink in for a few days; A smile is like therapy sometimes.)
"Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles." - George Eliot