As I lay in bed with a really bad case of the flu over the weekend – feeling rather wretched – I was listening to NPR and one of the programs was a discussion about New York City, featuring different stories that have happened in the city. (There’s a purpose to this – bear with me!)
The first story was told by the man who experienced it, takes place in a subway platform. He is standing at one end and, as usual, there’s a very eclectic mixture of people waiting on the platform – some families, some hippies, women dressed in business attire, tourists…just a really diverse mix of people. At the opposite end of where the storyteller was standing, he saw this man who looked quite average – he was wearing a suit and he was walking down the platform with a pad in his hand, stopping at each person to say something to them.
As he got closer to the storyteller, what he heard the man saying was, “You leave” or “You can stay”. He went up to a woman wearing a business suit and said “You leave”, the Puerto Rican couple, in a benevolent way, “You can stay”. This being New York, nobody left and everyone went on with their business, but the closer this man got to the narrator, the more nervous the storyteller became. Would he be told to leave or to stay?
The fear of being asked to leave – for no reason and no real consequence – did not alter his apprehension of being rejected. The man was one person away. The hippie was told, with a smile, “For sure you can stay” and then he walked on to the narrator and looked him straight in the eye, took a second and then passed his judgment, “Okay, you stay”. He was so relieved and so pleased that he had been one of the chosen ones and was not rejected. The interesting thing is that even though there was no direct implication, it was such a reinforcement that played to each of our direct fear. Am I good enough?
So it got me thinking. Are we approaching our business in the wrong way? Should we advertise or post on blogs that we are interviewing clients to see who we will accept or reject, creating a sense that, well, I have to be accepted, if not, there’s something wrong with me as a client?
I don’t know if this had to do with the fever or with the headache, but in my moment of illness it seemed like the perfect solution to building up the business and keeping full control of the situation. Now I’m off to bed for some more fever-induced sleep. Let me know your thoughts on this!