When in doubt…ask!

The other thing that exercised my mind for a little while was how the store assistant should have dealt with me, given that she clearly was used to dealing with transvestite customers and had her patter down, er, pat for such persons.

The answer, as several friends since helped me to find is: exactly the same way as any other sales person deals with a customer: by asking questions, working out how they prefer to be treated and then doing that. In technical speak, its called “qualifying the customer”.

That’s why the girl who blurted out “lady” in dealing with me, then looked mortified and asked if that was OK, got it right – whilst the one who just carried on using “sir” and “gentleman” got it wrong.

When in doubt ask. Politely. And listen to the reply.

It won’t instantly usher in world peace and harmony. But it definitely helps.



2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Demelza said,

    In my male life, my christian name is very similar to another more common one. Over forty-something years I’ve learned that embarassment is minimised by immediately correcting people the first time they get it wrong – letting it go makes it more embarassing for them in the long run when they find out.

    If your focus is to put people at ease with you, I’m sure little bumps in the road will be absorbed and driven over. Life is for living, not analysing.

  2. 2

    Lucy Melford said,

    I agree with Demelza. Instant correction whenever needed.

    It isn’t often needed nowadays (speaking of my life). The only occasion that comes to mind was a few months ago at a Brighton jewellers, when collecting a repared watch bought in my old male name a year before (because I hadn’t then changed the name on my credit card to Miss Lucy Melford). They had the watch down in their records under my old name, and the chap who served me said ‘sir’ before he could help it. I smoothly corrected him at once with an ‘Actually, it’s madam’ and from that moment he got it right. I’d say that by leaping in like this his embarrassment was immediately dissipated, and we had a nice little conversation while he adjusted the time on the watch for me. And he had the subtlety not to say ‘good luck’ or somesuch as I was leaving.


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