I’ve recently become friends with a retired Army general – a wonderful man who has fought in several wars and who has “seen it all” as they say. That said, he is still curious about life and people and how things work. I can’t remember any conversation I’ve had with him where he hasn’t said, “I’d like to hear more about that” when a subject came up that he hadn’t mastered.
I know I have written a bit about this before, but I am struck again and again by the way we train sales people and clerks in stores to simply execute a task without actually engaging with their customers. I’d love it if a clerk saw one of my purchases and asked, “How did you decide on that particular item? Is this something you have read a lot about?”
I’m not sure if you can teach curiosity, but I’d love to see more organizations adopt a posture of encouraging sales people to be appropriately curious about their customers. I know this: people LOVE to talk about themselves. Why not prompt that talk with a well-placed question now and again?
I have a favorite checker at the grocery store where we most often shop and she does this all the time. I splurged the other day and bought some fancy strawberry preserves made in France. When she ran the bottle over the scanner, she said, “Mmmm…is that good? It looks it. Maybe I’ll get me some.” That led to a minute or two of a lovely interplay with her that amused and us both and certainly gave my day a lift.
Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Well, I have a suspicion only ONE of those statements is true, but if it worked for Einstein…I’m pretty sure it’ll work for the rest of us as well.