There is currently a movement afoot which I understand is called ‘Talk to Stangers’.
It’s designed to help us to chat to people who might be lonely, and to encourage good feeling around us. I support this wholeheartedly as I am the daughter of a serial ‘Chat To Anybody’ father, (Oh, the embarrassment of being a student in London with a father who would talk to anyone and everyone, just as I was cultivating the London Middle-Distance Stare!) and have now grown into just such a ‘chatter’ as he was.
You see, I am from Wales. I was born in a pretty little town close to the border with England called Crickhowell, and spent my first two years in a little mining village called Blaenavon, which was not Welsh speaking and could most definitely have featured in Under Milkwood. (Try for size the fact that the Salvation Army band played every Saturday evening at what was locally known as ‘Hallelujah Lamppost’ – I kid you not). So, I am used to everyone stopping for a chat and everyone knowing everyone’s business! Anyway, my point is that the community was very strong … actually, most of us were related!
Times have changed, but here in Mendip, we have retained this strong sense of community and there are still a lot of people who are constantly helping others and bringing the community together despite not sharing the tiniest double helix of DNA. I like to think that local businesses can and will do the same thing.
Not only do the larger, national businesses such as supermarkets give left over supplies to charities, but smaller local concerns offer sponsorship to local events and free advice to those in need. A little time and expertise given freely can rebound positively with recommendations and a loyal and supportive customer base. It also helps us to get to know people in the community we serve, and to learn how our behaviours impact on others and perhaps, if necessary, to change them.
I have worked for many years with a variety of charities supporting people directly and, believe me, I have never regretted one minute I have spent with them. The things they taught me have not been wasted now that I work in a family business in the area. One important lesson is that businesses can succeed or fail depending on the relationships they develop with their clients.
The product is only ever half of the story. It’s true that we need to listen to our clients and become ever more aware of their needs in order to flourish. If, for instance, we apologise for our mistakes, our customers are much more likely to remain with us. If we change our service or product to suit them, their support becomes even stronger. Better yet, if we deliver what we promise in the first place, we are tending that all important relationship in the best possible way.
So let’s be aware of what’s going on around us, and let’s respond kindly and positively to everyone we have dealings with and let’s all have a happy and successful 2020!