The young man moved noiselessly around the nearly deserted conference room, hardly noticing Derek, who was already at work. Derek watched him open each blind methodically, muttering a hurried “Hi” when he passed by. Once he finished his morning ritual, he left the room and took his seat at the receptionist’s desk just outside the conference room, where he said little to anyone, much less Derek, all day.
Though there’s something to be said for the stress an auditor imposes on office staffers, Derek knew there had to be a voice within that shy exterior, so he made it his goal to hear it by his time in this office was done. Every time he got up to stretch, ask someone a question, or walk around the office, Derek took notice of how the young man interacted with others.
He answered phones constantly, but his welcome was monotone and non-engaging. He rarely offered much in conversation to his coworkers besides the bare minimum. He kept his eyes focused on the work in front of him, rarely leaving his desk.
When the day came to an end, the young man got up and came back into the conference room, closing the blinds in the same manner as the morning. Derek was beyond curious by this point, and couldn’t help but corner him in conversation. It took just a few simple questions before the walled-off introvert began talking freely to a total stranger.
The Power of Genuine Interest
What clicked in that moment wasn’t the right combination of words, or the right time of day, but rather the belief that Derek actually cared about the young man’s answers. He talked about his college, how he was enjoying the internship at this company, and his experience so far.
Though he would never make decisions for our client or influence our work, it was important for Derek to show that his contribution was valued. Everyone has a story, but few have received an invitation to tell it. That’s why we extend that invitation to nearly everyone we meet; the more stories we hear, the more we learn, and the better we can serve others.