Acknowledging the Invisible People

When I first started working in corporate America, people I admired and respected gave me these words of wisdom: “Know who has the real power.” “Know who has the information.” “Know who is in front of and behind you.” “Listen.”

Having said that, how many times have you walked past a security guard in a company, store or school, especially if you pass that person every day? Do you speak to/acknowledge the server or cashier in the cafeteria food line? How often do you speak to the maintenance people? Do you speak to the receptionist? I think you get my point.

Every day or quite frequently, we walk past the same person and don’t acknowledge their presence. We see them but we really don’t. They are basically invisible. As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s about knowing who has the information. When people are not “seen,” many times others have conversations in front of the “invisible person.” Invisible people know a lot…they hear and know a lot of information. Please be clear, I am not inferring anything about the people hearing the information. What I am pointing out is there are people in our lives that we ignore, don’t acknowledge or don’t see, and we are missing such great opportunities.

When I worked in corporate America, I spoke to the security guards, maintenance people, and receptionists every day. I am name challenged and worked very hard to remember as many names as I could but I got really good at glancing quickly at name badges. They seemed to appreciate that “hello” or “how are you today?” I’m not suggesting you have long conversations; a simple “hello,” “good morning” or a smile will suffice–simply acknowledge their presence.

Lastly, with your waiter or waitress, you may want to consider saying, just as a common courtesy: “When you have a chance…” (then make your request) or “May I please have….?” It always amazes me that people make demands of servers, forgetting courtesy and forgetting that you are not their only customer. And you are never aware of conversations they may be overhearing.

So in closing, please be more aware of the “invisible people.” It will be all to your benefit.

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