Sucking Black Holes

Have you ever walked into a retail store, restaurant, or even a corporate setting and experience the feeling that there is a black hole somewhere on the premises that is sucking the life out of the place?

The place may be clean with new fixtures and furniture. The lighting is fine – sometimes even artistic. All the "things" in the place may be perfect. But, there's something that just doesn't make you feel welcome – something that makes you want to get in and get out.

For example, there is a retail seafood store near me and I had heard they had great seafood and I decided to make my first visit. It fit the description above – clean, well lit, with nice looking cases of good looking fish, scallops and shrimp.

But, something was wrong. It didn't feel right. I watched the customers ahead of me being waited upon and then I realized the cause of the black hole was behind the counter. There were several employees working but one of them was miserable. She never made eye contact and every time someone wanted to add another product to their order, she gave a big sigh. It was if she was saying to everyone, "If only you would go away, my life would be better."

I could see that the other clerks were being sucked into the hole and even if they wanted to have a conversation with their customers, this miserable person would interrupt and sigh more. When it was my turn to waited upon, I engaged the young clerk and said hello and told her it was my first visit to their store. She smiled and thanked me. I then asked if she could tell me about a few things as some of the fish were new to me and I wanted to get an idea of taste, etc. "Sure," she smiled. My second question had to do with the types of scallops whereupon the "black hole" jumped in and gave some abrupt answer. Obviously, I was violating the rule of no questions. This was while she was still waiting on another customer.

I looked at her and said, "I'm sorry, but I wasn't speaking to you and this young lady is doing an excellent job in helping me." At the same time, I shot her my most withering glance. She stayed away for the rest of my visit.

I couldn't imagine how someone could allow an employee to poison an entire store and the only thing that made sense was she was the owner. So, I asked my young clerk as to who owned the store. She pointed out a man in the back who was busy cutting up some tuna. He heard our conversation and glanced up and made eye contact. I then spoke to him and said, "You have a very nice store – it's my first visit." He grunted something unintelligible. I then asked him if he could give me a price on an entire yellow fin tuna loin. I have been wanting to buy a good one and share with friends. He then reeled off about 3 quick answers as to why he couldn't do that and turned away and went back into a cooler.

End of conversation. End of my visit. My first and last visit.

So you have a black hole sucking the life out of your company? Could it be you?

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