Mark GotschRecently I was traveling through Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and was sitting, being bored, waiting for my flight home. I became aware of someone creating a disturbance at a gate on the opposite side of the terminal and learned the person was an adult female who was obviously very distraught and emotional.

My wife told me she had just missed her flight. She was walking in circles, and sitting rocking back and forth as she moaned, cried went on about her tragedy. Those of us used to travel would think her response was way overboard but it was a very clear, powerful emergency and tragedy for her.

She was obviously creating a scene and very distraught about her situation. I’m sure she felt all was lost, and there were no possible solutions and she could not see beyond the situation.

What struck me was that the gate personnel were ignoring her, going about their usual paperwork and business and were not attending to their customer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they were unequipped to deal with a person so elevated and chose to ignore the situation. What terrible customer service!

I see this as an extension of what the late Robert L. Humphrey, a World War II Marine rifle platoon commander at Iwo Jima, said about his personal calling:
“Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there. Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend. Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.”

If there was ever someone who needed a friend or needed to feel safer is was the distraught lady who missed her flight. I couldn’t help but think if the gate agents were armed with a Universal Greeting guided by the Five Maxims, they could have spoken with their customer and let her know all was not lost in life, there were options and she would be able to ultimately solve the situation.

The customer needed to connect with someone, needed hope.

In his book, “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,” John Maxwell gives four pointers to help you become a better connector:

1. Ask “Do I feel what you feel” before asking “Do you feel what I feel?”
2. Ask “Do I see what you see” before asking “Do you see what I see?”
3. Ask “Do I know what you know” before asking “Do you know what I know?”
4. Ask “Do I know what you want” before asking “Do you know what I want?”

These four questions are the perfect way to follow the First Maxim of treating others with dignity and showing them respect. The rest of the Maxims (ask, don’t tell; explain why; offer options; and give a second chance) would have gotten far in connecting with the customer with exactly what she needed at the time.

Mark Gotsch
Verbal Defense and Influence consultant

Vistelar Group –