I was in my bank today — I’d just slid in before the doors closed at 3PM — and two minutes later saw a woman knocking hard on the (now locked) door.
Here’s what happened next:
- The guard went over and told her the branch was closed.
- The woman asked to speak with the manager.
- The manager came over and the woman launched into a story about how angry she was that she’d called and been told the branch was open ’till 7, how she’s ill and had a friend drive her over, etc..
- The manager (also a woman) kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
- The customer stomped away.
What was Missing from This Picture?
An ask. Never did the customer say, “I would like you to serve me, even though it’s 3:02.”
I caught up with her on the street minutes later and shared what I’d observed.
Her response? “I told the manager I was upset, and she didn’t even offer to help.”
Notice that this is not the same thing as “I asked for help and she said no.”
Giving Ourselves a “No”
Here’s what struck me: This woman was ready to walk away from something that she wanted, angrily feeling that her request had been turned down, when in fact she hadn’t requested anything.
People who feel empowered say things like,
You are obliged to serve me because I was given incorrect information on the phone. Please let me in, or I will contact your Regional Manager and complain.
People who feel disempowered say things like,
I’m angry and upset about how you’re treating me.
Do Women Speak the Language of Power?
I know this is a subtle distinction, but it’s one that matters — and I say that as someone who’s sometimes chosen to vent my emotions over making demands.
Have you ever done this?
Are you a woman?
Hmmmm…. must be a coincidence, right?