Last week, I rang a business I had never called before, looking to enlist their services. The lady on the phone was a little abrupt and then, straight after she had asked a relevant question and I had begun to answer, it became clear to me that she wasn’t listening. And then it became abundantly clear when she started talking to someone else and I could hear him answering her, you know, like a proper conversation. A bit like the one she should have been having with me.
I stopped talking and waited for her to finish this other conversation that was obviously far more important than procuring my new business. I ended the conversation fairly shortly after that.
Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ll use this particular company.
Now, of course, we could talk about customer service (or lack thereof) but what it made me start to wonder is why? Why did it put me off so quickly? Why does that mean I’ll not be calling this company again for their services?
It’s because of how it made me feel.
It made me feel like I didn’t matter. Like I wasn’t important. Not only as a potential customer but as a person. You ask a question, you listen to the answer. Simple, I would have thought.
I have a fairly healthy self esteem, so my strongest reaction was to decide there and then that I would not give that business my time or money. But it also made me feel small and insignificant. Which isn’t nice.
We all like to feel we matter. I would even go so far as to say that for some that feeling is the difference between life and death. As long as we matter to someone we feel that life is worth it. That we are worth it.
Seemingly little things like being shunned on the phone by a stranger, being ignored in the tea-break room at work, feeling invisible at school or in the school carpark, can all add up to make us feel that we don’t matter.
We need to take care with each other. That one smile that shows you have seen someone, a simple ‘hello’ when passing a stranger in a corridor, really listening to the answer when you ask a question at a party – all these things are small but have enormous ramifications for those around us.
I guess the Bible verse about treating others as you want to be treated has not grown tired with age. If we try to live with an awareness of others, with an awareness of ourselves and what makes us tick, we will start positively feeding into those around us.
And it might just make more difference than you will ever know.