The Invisible Guest– No, He Is At The Table, Just Invisible
Recently, a client asked our consultant to join him at dinner with friends. The client invited 3 other friends to join us, none known to our consultant. introductions were made when everyone was seated. Our consultant sat at the end of the table, across from a 12 year old child. The child did not have a babysitter and was brought along for dinner. He played with an electronic device throughout the meal, only eating 3 french fries– the rest of the meal, “he did not like this stuff!”
Nobody engaged our consultant throughout the dinner! Our client and friends talked, the consultant tried to spur a conversation with the child, to no avail. Even more interesting is the fact that our consultant is an experienced consultant, used to dining with a wide variety of different people each and every day! The child– not a big deal, had a serious lack of manners because all he did was play on his electronic device– (generationally applicable), but could not even carry on a simple, “Tell me about school” conversation!
Now, if you were our consultant, what would you have done? Probably the same thing our consultant did– listen carefully and eat dinner, without saying much, if anything.
If you find yourself in the position of hosting a dinner, or attending a dinner with individuals that you don’t know, make it a point to at least try and engage them in simple conversation. Most people will visit with you, if given the chance! Talk about the weather, the local sports team, anything to get the other party to talk. Most people love to talk about themselves– if the individual is of the age where grandchildren are involved, that is always a conversation starter!! The key is to get the person to talk– that individual may be the next big client or knows who he/she can refer to you to be your client. Never pass on an opportunity to engage anyone– especially if you are seeking clients.
After we left the dinner, our client apologized profusely to our consultant about the lack of inclusion in the conversation. At the end of the day, no real harm was done, other than the fact that our consultant had to endure a meal where he was not engaged with others. Of course, the others seemingly had no interest to even learn about our consultant and the services we provide. Never be in that situation. Always engage when possible.