Recently while visiting a new client in the West End , I jumped in a rush into the lift. As I fumbled with my notes trying to remember which floor they were on, I realised there was a lady in the lift elevator with me. Without thinking, I said, “Good morning! What a lovely office you have here!”.
“This actually isn’t my office, I work in The City” she responded, clearly a bit taken aback by the random, undeserved compliment and conversation. And then the elevator doors opened onto my floor and I quickly exited to rush to my meeting.
Two days later I was in The City having lunch at a Pret and I look up to see the same lady from the lift. “You’re the lift man” she laughed.
To my surprise, she wound up joining me for lunch. I discovered that she was the office manager of a sizable specialist Employment Agency. She was also exceedingly interested in our services as they were having problems with their outsourced IT Management.
We don’t have the business yet, but are in serious negotiations.
It was clear to me that this never would have happened had I not said anything in the lift that morning. Experiences like these make me wonder if we should re-frame the position of “don’t be afraid to fail” into “find ways to embarrass yourself”. I think from now on I’ll always find a way to say “hello” in the lift.