This week marks my Eight Year Nametag Anniversary.
So I was thinking.
Wearing a nametag everyday is a great opportunity to force yourself to practice your listening skills.
EXAMPLE: The other day I was sitting on the floor at O’Hare, doing some writing.
I would have sat on a chair, but airport outlets are like currency these days, so I took what I could get.
Around 9:30 AM, a short, older woman with a rolling suitcase rushed passed me.
She stopped in her tracks. “Um, do you know you’re still wearing a nametag?”
“Yeah, I always wear it.”
“Yep. Every day!”
“Oh, cool. Well, actually, the reason I stopped is because my son’s name is Scott too.”
“Yeah? Another Scott, huh? It’s a good name.”
“He’s such a good kid, too!” she gushed. “Just graduated from Vanderbilt. Got a degree in engineering! And he has a few job offers from several big firms, but he’s not sure which one to accept. See, Scott’s always been the kind of kid who…”
For ten minutes. That’s how long she went on about her son. And who could blame her? That’s what parents do. They brag about their kids.
But that’s not what amazed me.
What was interesting was that this lady was CLEARLY in a rush. And yet, she still stopped to talk to a complete stranger. For ten minutes.
LESSON LEARNED: Listening is so rarely practiced that most people will jump at even the slightest opportunity for a captive audience.
Ever since I started wearing a nametag every day, this happens to me ALL the time.
People just start talking to me.
And I don’t mean like, saying hello or asking for the time or wondering if I have some sort of memory problem.
But REALLY talking.
Sharing their passions. Telling their stories. Going on and on about whatever is on their mind.
Like last week, when the man sitting next to me in the boarding lounge commented on the book I was reading. One thing led to another and we were talking about our respective travel plans. Then, before we knew it, the guy was telling me about his recently deceased wife who had suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Yep. People just start talking to me. And I don’t even DO anything.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
I mean, sure, I have my nametag on. And I’m an approachable guy. But still, I just think it’s amazing how often this happens.
SO, HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
1. How often are you painting your ears into GOOD listening corners?
2. What have you done THIS WEEK to reverse the “poor listener” stereotype of your industry?
3. Where could you SPONTANEOUSLY practice your listening skills?
Next time you’re sitting at the airport, riding the bus or taking the train, before you immediately put on your iPod and tune out the person sitting next to you, think about the potential benefits of tuning IN.
Because you never know, you could be the ONLY one that listens to that person all day.
Here’s to eight more years!
(Of wearing nametags, that is. Not of the current administration.)
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you celebrating today?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “57 Lessons My Nametag Taught Me in 2008,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!