Have you ever gone into a restaurant or department store, and observed certain guys that seem to “own the place?” They know pretty much everybody who works there, and the employees look forward to these guys’ visits.
I am one of those guys. When I walk in to most places, everybody knows me and aims to get my attention. There are ways you can easily win over those employees, using the same techniques you use to win over others. However, winning over cashiers and clerks is even easier than meeting random strangers, because you are expected to approach these workers, so there is no fear of the approach.
Step One: Pay Attention
Most people don’t pay attention to the world around them, and if you do, it will benefit you tremendously. When your teacher told you to pay attention, you may have scoffed, but paying attention socially provides many benefits.
The main reason you have to pay attention is to find things to talk about. The typical openers of “how are you?” or the response “fine, thank you” will make you appear like every other boring customer or patron. Sure, you’ll be likable enough, but you’ll ultimately be unimpressive and not memorable.
Paying attention is just simple observation of the present environment. Listen to the conversation or interaction that is happening in line before you at the check-out. Read the clerk’s body language to determine whether she is having a good or bad day. See how her and her fellow employees interact. You’d be shocked at the hundreds, even thousands, of details in an environment you probably miss, but that provide interesting things to talk about.
I met a girl at a Tim Horton’s this way. All my brother and I did was observe the funny hat she was wearing for black Friday (with a few humorous comments), and now we talk to her every time we stop by. We even went to her wedding a few years later.
Why does all this matter? Well, it’s time to go to step two.
Steps Two, Three, and Four: Just Say Something, Show Interest, and Use Their Name
Steps two, three, and four are related, so I combined them. When someone says “hi” or “how was your day?” you probably don’t remember them the next day. But when that person asks you about something that interests you, you will remember him and maybe even look for him in the future. Next time you go out, take an interest in the servers or cashiers. If you take an interest in them and their lives, you will stand out from most people they meet.
First you have to observe something about them, which is where the previous step comes into play. For example, maybe they have a cool tattoo, or look cold. Maybe a rude customer just walked out. Maybe you heard them volunteer information about themselves to you or another customer. Either way, genuinely talk to them about whatever you observe. For example, “wow, that’s a cool tattoo!”
And remember, you have to say something if you want to stand out. Most cashiers and servers are professional, which means they are likely reluctant to initiate any conversation except the basic “how are you?”
So, it comes to you, and the good news is that it is easy. So, say something. Anything! It can be anything, but has to be something more than the usual banter related to making a transaction. For example, “thanks for the hamburger” or “yes I want fries” doesn’t count.
You have to say something that makes you stand out in a positive way. It doesn’t even have to be funny or particularly insightful, but it will be better if it is. You can ask a question, such as “is it always this cold in here?” or you could venture to the funny like “do they always have the thermostat set to Antarctica in here?” (if it’s a girl, and she gives you a crappy response, you could always go a little more “advanced” and respond “ahh, the same temperature as your personality” but be sure to say it with confidence and flirtatiously, or you will just look creepy).
Note that even a statement about the current temperature shows interest in the person and their situation, versus some canned line. But either way, you are standing out from most people, and demonstrating interest and confidence two signs of someone that is popular.
Also, call them by name once (don’t overdo it). Studies show people love the sound of their name, and calling them by it shows interest. Another little trick I use is to use their name tags as conversation topics. If their name is unique, weird, or they have decorated their name tag, you have instant conversation.
Step Five: Ask a Follow Up Question
Most conversations end because nobody knows what to do next. Now, you know what to do! You have to follow up with your statement. A good follow-up continues the interest you are taking in the person’s life. Did you say something about the cool tattoo? Then, ask “who did it?” or “why did you get it?” It helps if you have a genuine interest in the topic at hand. But even if you don’t care that much, still ask a follow up question, because it always continues the conversation.
Step Six: Do it all with confidence and charm
You have to be confident when you interact with other. This means confident and relaxed body language, with a vocal tone that is clear and commanding. If the person blows you off (which will happen), just don’t worry about it, and, by your relaxed body language, you will convey that you really don’t care, which will make them want to interact with you more.
However, you have to also have some charm. Confidence without charm can just be annoying.
Human nature is such that people prefer compliments and interactions from people with value. Having a high level of confidence and charm means that your interactions will go over even better.