There was a lady I used to work with. She was in her seventies and had watery eyes that always looked like she was about to cry tears of happiness. She didn’t have to work; she had had a rewarding career, was well versed, and had travelled to locations as a solo female that I would be wary visiting with a full team of bodyguards. However, she radiated sincerity when she talked to people, seemingly absorbing everything her customers had to say.

One winter’s afternoon, when the day was coming to an end and the shop was empty, I asked her something along the lines of this:

“How can you approach every customer with such enthusiasm? I get so tired, running through the same information with hundreds of people every day.”

She said (I am paraphrasing here), “I need this interaction. I live alone. I love my garden and my dogs, but I don’t get human reaction outside of work. I need the customers as much as they need me, and therefore I honestly appreciate their questions, as they appreciate my answers.”

There are many takeaways from her answer, but the one I took to heart is similar to one of the lessons repeated throughout Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’. In the book, he encourages sincerity, especially when giving praise. If you focus on people’s strengths and value the gifts they give you, you will get more out of each experience than if you ignore the courtesies extended to you and build a wall between yourself and the people you are interacting with.

My colleague saw these interactions as gifts, and I think I should try to be a little more like her.