Can I Help You?
It was Christmas Eve. Bobby and his family were on the way from a Church Service. They were feeling very festive. They had just spent the last 45 minutes catching up with friends they had not seen for over a year. Then he remembered that he needed to get to the shop before it closed at 9 pm. It was 8:45 pm.
The next day, they would be spending Christmas day at his Mum’s place. With all the family. And he wanted to bring a bottle of a traditional drink with him. It was a liqueur that was drunk as an appetiser. It would bring a festive start to the day. A traditional start to the day.
This drink could only be bought at this one particular shop. And Bobby was worried that the shop was already closing. They arrived in the car park at 9:07 pm. The last of the customers were at the check-out counter. Bobby told his wife to drive to the front of the shop. He wanted to get the attention of the staff who were preparing to close the store.
He went to open the car door. But before he had the chance to put his foot on the ground, he heard one of the staff shout out to him, “Sorry we are closed”. And then the doors to the store were shut. Bobby was angry. He wasn’t given a chance to explain his situation. In that one moment, the festive cheer momentarily vanished.
What would have happened if the staff had let Bobby come to them. What would have happened if they had started the conversation by asking, “Can I help you?”
Maybe they would have let him jump in and grab the bottle he needed. He knew where to find it. It would not have taken him long at all. And maybe they would have said “Sorry, we aren’t allowed to stay open past 9 pm. Our boss is here and he is a real stickler when it comes to closing times.”
But the opportunity was lost. For either side to tell their story.
It helps when you start with empathy.
Image by Sasin Tipchai