It was one of those bitter winter days in Toronto. There was no snow, but the wind was fierce, gathering speed as it whipped around buildings and easily made its way through coats, hats and mitts. Brrrr!
I didn’t have far to walk – a little over a block – and for most of it my head was down to protect my eyes and face from the frigid blasts, but I had to look up at an intersection and that’s when I saw her.
Her pronounced limp made her noticeable on the crowded street. A young woman, she moved slowly along the sidewalk; it looked like a painful journey.
And there were other things – she had no boots, her ankles looked smaller than my wrists and her hands were bare, holding her coat closed against the wind.
My head down again, I was set to walk quickly past her but … she called out, asking for help.
Her voice was soft, quiet. I had difficulty understanding what she needed. It sounded like she was asking for assistance getting to an appointment, navigating a set of stairs. As she spoke I looked around, wondering which building, how far she was going. It was unclear how I could help.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m having trouble hearing you.” And I leaned in a little closer so I could capture her words.
That’s when she said with great clarity, “Thank you for acknowledging me.” I felt then, and still do, like she had given me an amazing gift.
The word acknowledge, very simply, means “to recognize”, a vital component of any communication. When we are speaking with or trying to reach our prospects and customers, how often are we truly acknowledging them, recognizing them?
Do we acknowledge their hectic schedule? Their frustrations? Their problems? Do we really give our full attention to them – leaning in closer and fully listening to what they are saying?
We often get so preoccupied with our own thoughts, deadlines, challenges, we cease to listen, to hear what our clients really need and want.
Acknowledgment is not always easy, but it is the foundation of trust and long-lasting relationships. (Tweet This!) Creating it, giving it, involves both practice and patience, but if you are growing a business, it’s absolutely worth it.
As for the young woman in Toronto, she wanted only money. She created a story around her request, about her sister and a taxi and several other things, but I didn’t need her to soften her ask. It was cold, I was carrying an expensive coffee and wearing warm clothes … and she had already given me this blog post. I put $5 in her hand and hoped she’d get herself some mitts.