Monday, January 30, 2012

How Good Customer Service Became a Connection

Three months ago I was shopping for a birthday gift for a friend.  My basic idea was some sort of barware/cocktail items.  With that I went in to a store known for interesting housewares.

I wandered and explored seeing some possibilities, but waiting for something to really jump out at me.  Then along came a smiling store employee, "Can I help you find something?"

"Actually, yes," I answered as I explained my loose idea of what I was looking for.

She could have said, "Well, you're in the right section so let me know if you have any questions."  She could have pointed to a few options and left me to go it alone.

But she didn't.  She asked questions about my friend's style and the colors she likes.  She asked what barware items my friend already had.  Then she walked around the store with me giving me some ideas.

As if that weren't helpful enough, noticing the stroller I was pushing through the tight maze of their store shelving, she said things like, "Come this way. This aisle is a bit wider," and "You wait here, I'll bring it to you."

She was amazing.

As I was checking out, she was pulled away (an alarm had previously gone off accidentally and the fire department showed up to check that everything was okay).

Later that afternoon, I realized that I never got to thank her for her help.  I could have let it go.  How often do we do just that?  But she provided such good service and I wanted to make sure she knew that, so I called the store.

I explained to the man who answered that there was a young woman who helped me that afternoon who was dynamite.  I described her and he said, "Oh yes, she's great!"  He put her on the phone, I thanked her, told her I appreciated how attentive she was, and then I went on my merry way and she on hers.

I haven't thought about it much until this weekend.  I was back in that same store searching for another gift and when I went to the register, there she was.  I told my husband, "Hey!  This is the girl that was so helpful a few months ago."

She said, "I thought that was you!"  We laughed.  Then we exchanged phone numbers.

The magic here is that I just wrote about connection last Monday, setting the intention to truly connect with the person in front of me whether it is my own family member or a cashier (yes, I actually said that).  At the end of the week, I had a new connection.  Beautiful synchronicity.

Now I have a challenge for you.  (No, you don't have to exchange phone numbers with someone you meet in a store.)  The challenge is this: thank a stranger.  It might be the person who hands you your morning coffee with a smile, the restaurant server who keeps your iced tea topped off, the toll booth worker who makes sure change lands in your hand rather than on the street, or the passerby who retrieves your dropped scarf.

Acknowledging someone is a powerful way to connect.  Plus you get the feel good feelings of doing something nice and they get the feel good feelings of someone being nice to them.  It's a win-win.

Who will you thank this week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wishcasting: Health and Wellness

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. This week Jamie asks, "What do you wish for your health and wellness?"

Jamie has this way of asking questions that at first glance may seem simplistic, but if you really think about them, you realize how big and revealing they really are.

This week has been rough... and it’s only Wednesday. My temper has been short and my bounce back has been long. By bounce back, I mean that period of time it takes to go from angry to content.

Like the stereotypical woman, I sometimes have trouble letting things go. Once I’m angry, I’m angry about every detail of every past instance of whatever it is.

For example, my teenager has trouble getting through his morning routine on his own. Monday morning was no exception. I’d had it. There was yelling. Lots of yelling. And it wasn’t just about Monday morning, it was about EVERY morning. Further, it was about everything I’d ever had to say more than once in any situation on any given day.

He finally made it out the door and I was still seething. My mind was racing, mostly in expletives. My body was jittery. It was barely 7:00 a.m. and it was a very bad day. Meanwhile there he was laughing with his friend on the way to school, like nothing had happened. The nerve.

And what, you may ask, does this have to do with health and wellness? Everything.

Did you notice how I said my mind was racing and my body was jittery? I had an actual physical response to a situation. A situation that I have relatively little control over. And for what? What good did it do for me to be that upset?

So, I wish to be in control of my own attitude. I wish to not get in the way of my own wellness.

How about you? What do you wish for your health and wellness?

Monday, January 23, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about connection lately.  I'm not as connected to people as I would like to be.  By people I am including many: my children, my husband, my extended family, friends, acquaintances (in person and online), restaurant servers, cashiers, passersby... you get the idea.

I spend too much time in my own mind, in a book, on my iPhone or iPad, and not enough time connecting to people.

This became particularly clear to me last week as I engaged with my baby boy while feeding him his jar of baby food.  He tasted the food, wrinkling his round little face for the first few bites while deciding how he felt about it.  Then he pressed his lips together and smiled.  He studied my face as I studied his.  I tickled his feet dangling from the high chair; he squealed with delight.

But, you ask, isn't that connecting?  To which I say, exactly!  I don't recall many other meals from last week.  Usually I scramble to feed myself at the same time or I pull out something to read between spoon feedings or I collect coins on Tap Zoo.

Tap Zoo... really?  Therein lies my problem.  I feel like I need to be busy, even if it's busy doing something stupid.  I've been programmed to multitask.  Most of us have.  If I'm not doing two things at once, I must be slacking off, right?  Wrong!  And I'll be honest, I'm really bad at multitasking.  It's definitely not something I'm meant to do.

So for today (as you may have seen earlier this week, I'm focusing on today because thinking longterm can be paralyzing) I'm paying attention.  Whomever is in my presence is my focus.  The reading can wait.  The devices can wait.  I want to truly see, listen, be attentive.  I want to be connected.

Do you have any tips?  How do you stay connected to people?  Are there places in your day where you might be able to better connect?  Leave a comment or send me a tweet @smhutchins.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Writing Is What I Used To Do Before I Was Afraid To Write

Since taking the leap and declaring myself Writer a few months ago, I wrote a short story and participated in NaNoWriMo during which I completed the first draft of a novel.

Since then? Hmm... well, there were a few blog posts here and there.

The Holdup

I could say work on my house (we’ve been reflooring). I could say I’ve been busy (there were the holidays, then getting back in to my older son’s school routine, a shifting nap schedule for the little one, meetings, appointments, etc.). I could say I’m waiting until I’m finished with Kristen Lamb’s Blogging for Brand course so I can do things “properly.”

I could say anything I want, but the fact of the matter is there is time to write. I can make time to write.

The truth is I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that I don’t like the middle of my completed novel and that I don’t know how to fix it. I’m afraid that I don’t know whether I should continue working on the NaNoWriMo novel or go back to my previously in process novel (for which I’m also afraid because I don’t know where it’s going). I’m afraid of conflict; I have trouble making bad things happen to good characters.

I’m afraid that if I blog, I won’t be able to write stories. I’m afraid if I write stories, I won’t be able to blog. And I like writing both.

I’m afraid that I will write crap and not realize it’s crap. I’m afraid I’ll get published and have all of my flaws ever be spread to the public. Did she really write that? Does she know proper grammar? Has she heard of plot? Did she really have braces for five years because she refused to wear the rubber bands?

I’m afraid that by writing posts like these, I’m not appealing to some future reader demographic.

I’m afraid that no one will read this.

What’s a girl to do?

Focus on the now.

Looking ahead causes panic. I still laugh thinking back to an example Christine Kane gave once about excuses- you can’t possibly write a song if you have nothing to wear to the Grammy’s.

Don’t I feel silly now.

If everyone stopped themselves from writing when they were afraid, we’d probably be left with only the sterile spewing of pompous know-it-alls.

We might find ourselves absent of anything to read with real emotion. Or maybe we would be just fine because I’m the only writer in the entire world who has ever been afraid. I doubt it, though.

Today I am focusing on today. That’s all. And today I say write anyway.

Inner demons, I banish thee back to hell. You’re not needed here.