I recently experienced one of the nicest flight attendants ever; I unfortunately did not get her name so we’ll call her Wendy. She went through the normal routines that flight attendants go through, you know, smile, “welcome aboard,” check that seat belts are buckled, and all the safety messaging. The difference was the way she made you feel like you were right at home. She called people honey and sweetheart in a way that somehow wasn’t cheesy or sappy, it seemed genuine, and I simply don’t know how she did it.
The big game changer came when the woman next to me got sick, I mean really sick. It was the kind of sick that made everyone around her feel queasy. Well, once we got airborne and up to cruising altitude, the flight attendants began their rounds and when Wendy came by my row she looked over at the woman next to me and immediately went into what I call “Mom” mode. She said all the right words to make my row-mate feel at ease. She told her that she was fine and that it happens a lot (the sick woman was quite embarrassed and uncomfortable). I was really surprised when Wendy told her to give her the sick-bag, the sick woman was very hesitant but Wendy insisted. I would personally have had to garner latex gloves for such a thing as I am quite the barf-o-phobe. From there, Wendy came back with a whole bevy of comforts, an ice bag, a can of ginger ale and two large sick-bags just in case. In addition, every time Wendy passed my row, she would make sure the ill woman was okay. Simply put, Wendy was great; she was in so many ways just like “Mom.”.
Anyway, why the story? Well, how many places do you go to where employees are confronted with things that are just normal human frailties but they don’t know what to do or don’t care so they ignore them? Does this take training or is it just bad human wiring? I don’t know the answer but empathy and caring are severely needed. We live in a world that can be so cold and people can be so unconcerned with those around them. Wendy cared. She truly wanted to help. She, at some basic human level, understood what my sick neighbor needed, at both an emotional and tangible level.
Do your employees care? Can they empathize and provide what people need, not just what you sell but, more importantly, the human touch? Do your employees and work partners get that from you? Can you empathize and provide for them? Does your workplace culture hold these things as values? Are people important? All good questions and things to think about if you want your customers to experience Wendy or just someone else who doesn’t care.
Making the world a better place is a tall order but it will never be if we don’t start making the workplace a place where people matter as much as they do when we’re not at work. This starts with more of us having a service focus, and by that I mean a mindset that seeks to help those around us, yes, not just our friends and families but even our co-workers and maybe even a stranger from time to time. Serving each other has been a necessary part of human survival but we seem to be losing that a lot these days and we need it back. Let’s get to work.