Anyone can create a memorable experience for another at any time — whether at work or not. When they do, they are not only representing themselves, but their gender, race, age group, culture, city, state, or even country.If they are wearing your logo-wear or mention they work for you, they also represent your company.
I’ve created programs to help staff shift to ambassador-like thinking. But it starts with people who are already focused on going above and beyond in whatever they are doing or encounter.
Here are a few examples of everyday ambassadors creating a memorable experience for me during a recent trip to the city of Eskisehir, Turkey.
- I non-verbally asked a local middle-aged woman if I could share the riverside bench where she was enjoying her lunch. She nodded that I could sit. I bit into a juicy nectarine, wiping the juice running down my chin. She turned and looked, then broke off half the banana she was peeling and gave it to me. I smiled and nodded my thank you, since I didn’t speak Turkish.
- Walking into the bakery, I asked the proprietor, “English?” He shook his head. I raised my thumb and pointed to the tray of baklava in the window. “One” I requested. “One?” he asked, seeming puzzled that someone would order only one. “Yes” I nodded and smiled. He placed a succulent piece on a napkin, presenting it to me. I opened my wallet and asked “How much?” He said, “No price.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled, “No price?” I asked. He shook his head no. I thanked him and walked out smiling.
- After hearing my talk to 100 high school students studying English, a teacher commented on now much she liked my message. I thanked her and noticed her bracelet featuring the Turkish “evil eye” which I’d grown fond of. I told her I thought it was pretty. She took it off and gave it to me, although I said I couldn’t accept it. She insisted.
- Entering the second-hand store, I said hello in my limited Turkish. The owner said hello back and started to talk to me. I shook my head, saying “English only.” She watched as I browsed her store. I examined some scarves. She took one from the rack and put it in my hands. It wasn’t really my style so I thanked her, and put it back. She took it and put it around my neck. I wasn’t sure what to do so I walked around her shop. I came back to her and tried to give it back to her. She wouldn’t take it. I took out my wallet and asked how much I owed. She shook her head, communicating “nothing.” I thanked her and left the shop.
All of these were examples of Turkish people being ambassadors of their shop, city and country. Their kindness and generosity will be remembered for many years. And as I tell the stories to my audiences, they will represent the many other examples of kindness I received during my visit.
How do you want your people to represent your organization? How can you encourage and reward ambassador-like behaviors?