Coffee Please, I’ve Gotta Run!

During my morning drive, as I was making my way to the office, I made a pit stop at my favorite convenient store for a nice fresh brewed cup of java.

What I thought would have been a routine in and out, ended up turning into a job interview for an unexpected candidate.

Given I’m a “regular”, I’ve got quite the rapport with the store manager who is almost always the one who rings me out at the register. Perhaps it was by chance, but as I strolled up with my coffee, banana and energy drink (for later), I got a head nod and smile but was waved through to the next register. While sliding my things down onto the counter, I quickly greeted the cashier with a big smile as per usual followed by a, “Hi, how are you today”?

Sadly, I got nothing in return from the cashier until she noticed I might have something she could benefit from. What I thought was interesting, was her pace ringing my items up slowed down when she noticed my corporate badge flashing the company name. She paused for a moment, gave me the smile I was waiting for, and then asked rather loudly, “Is your company hiring?”

Perhaps silly of me, but out of courtesy, I slightly leaned over the counter before responding and in a quieter volume said the company was indeed hiring and also indicated which groups I was aware were seeking fresh talent.

Her rather loud response, “I’d love to get you my resume for consideration!”

Alright, maybe not silly, maybe I’m just slow to reality, or want to always think the best of people, but….. DING! DING! DING! I finally realized her choice to be boisterous in her desire to find a new job was merely because her manager (my buddy) was standing literally three feet away!

Naturally, I do the professional thing as I picked up my bag… I slid a business card across the counter and said,

“I’m always happy to refer good candidates.”

To my surprise, the following morning, I received an email from the “friendly neighborhood cashier”, thanking me for my time and evaluating her for employment. So what did I do? Of course, I did the professional thing, and replied…

“Although I appreciate you sharing your resume, I regret to inform that you will not be moving on to the next stage of the interview process.”

Don’t worry, I didn’t completely leave her flying blind. Much like myself, when I’ve been passed up for an opportunity (of course I’ve been rejected too), I want to know what advice the respondent will give so I can improve as I continue looking for new opportunities, so I provided a few (assuming she’d be half-interested).

After explaining that our informal introduction, albeit brief, gathered the same information I’d expect to gain in the first few seconds of meeting any new applicant for the first time, and was considered round #1 for her…. then moved into the following with best wishes in her endeavor to grow.

Number One: First impressions last, make them count! (All the time)

Number Two: Always check your attitude at the door, as you never know who you’ll run into.

Number Three: Put on a SMILE!

Number Four: Always, and I mean always, be R-E-S-P-E-C-T-F-U-L

One of my favorite studies in communication was completed by Albert Mehrabian in 1972 when he proposed a % breakdown in how we communicate. Although there are applications in which this may or may not apply, or applies loosely at best, it is a good reminder more than spoken words drive perception. The Mehrabian study basically indicates our communication is 7% words, 38% tonality, and 55% body language.

Much of this may be a “no brainer” for most, but in this situation, chances for referral were blown, all before the first word was spoken.

Consider the logic Mehrabian and how often you leave the “right” lasting impression because you properly identified and balanced your communication. I would imagine, we can all think of examples that parallel those of my “friendly neighborhood cashier”. I challenge you to reflect, think about what you were or were not proud of in those situations and what you would do differently if you had it to do all over again (if anything).

It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. ~ Stephen Colbert

If you halfway enjoyed this read, I’d appreciate a like and a share, but I’d also love to hear from you! It is through the sharing of experience that we as individuals can grow ourselves and would be excited to hear your story!

I can be reached via email at and by following me on Twitter @nancymouellette or Facebook @OwnYourPurpose and by going to

Credit where it’s due!

Kubina J. (2008 Jan 20). [CC0 Image] Retrieved from URL

Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.

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