May 20, 2015 Leave a comment
We learn that it’s important that we ‘shine’ at something because that will define who we are. It will determine our significance, our reason for being. “This is Joe – he’s a great runner. He wins all his races and has tons of gold medals”. “This is Sally – she’s a wonderful creative writer. I bet she could spell just about any word you could give her.” As we get older we learn to focus on our accomplishments, our careers, the ‘things’ we’ve managed to acquire, our achievements, our sporting prowess, our conquests, even our obsessions and addictions. These things define us and show the world that we are special and different and significant. We learn to use these things to evoke self-worth and demonstrate our value to ourselves and to others. In the past our family photo albums used to be full of these accomplishments but nowadays we publish our significance on Facebook and Twitter, letting the world know who we are and what we have acquired or achieved.
We tend to search for significance by focusing on ourselves and hoping to create something that will last, and at the same time we fear reaching the end of our lives only to discover that our time here has been insignificant or meaningless. Some turn to goal setting to manage this need for significance, some turn to religion to support their desire for self worth, some rely on the love of their family and friends to feed this hunger for importance. Some people buy flashy cars, some have plastic surgery, some dress to impress, some show off their grandchildren, some brag about their recent success,some run marathons, some collect art – all to prove that they are significant, they are different, they are special. We all feel this need to be significant and rightly so. We have worked all our life for what we personally define as ‘success’. We’ve slaved for years to achieve our position, our security or our ‘toys’. Do you feel the need for significance? Well, so does everyone else, and if we can feed other people’s need for significance and help them feel important, they will love us and buy what we are selling.
I was recently receiving very poor service in a cafe and used this idea of significance to my advantage. The young waitress must have been having a bad week and obviously felt that we, her customers, should understand this and ‘suffer’ like she was! I noticed that she was sullen and unhelpful and she treated the people in front of me with disdain, giving extremely poor customer service.
I’d noticed that she had a very unusual vivid green streak of hair dye in the front of her hair, not my type of thing at all. In fact I thought it looked stupid but what do I know? I was at least 3 times her age! This was her way to grab attention and was obviously her way of gaining significance with people whose opinion she valued. When it came to my turn I thought I’d feed her need for significance and so I talked about the ‘wonderful colour in her hair’ and said that I thought it made her really stand out from the crowd.
The change in her demeanour was instantaneous and lasting. She cheered up immediately, smiling probably for the first time that morning and she went out of her way to be helpful and nice to me. When my order was ready she brought my tea and bun over to my table. A complete contrast to the way she shouted to all her other customers that they should come and fetch theirs themselves.
Had I been selling something I think I would have made a sale. As it was I received far better service than all the other customers, just because I made her feel important and significant. I could have told her how stupid I thought she looked or made a joke about her wiping her nose into her hair but both of those would have reduced her significance rather than built it and I would have received poor service.
Let’s remember: Everyone is looking for significance and if we can feed this need they have then they will like us and buy whatever we’re selling. Make their significance more important than your own to build rapport and establish a relationship that can be long, lasting and profitable for you both.