Six – Love
by Ron Rosenberg
It’s easy to make snap judgments when you first meet someone. But first impressions can often prove to be wrong – sometimes with unexpected consequences.
Several years ago, my family traveled to Florida to visit my in-laws. I remembered from a previous trip that there was a tennis court, so my wife and I both brought our tennis racquets hoping to find some time to play.
On Saturday morning, my wife decided to sleep in, so I took my racquet over to the tennis courts to see if anyone was there to play. I found three people playing a modified game of doubles and asked if they could use a fourth person to even it up. They said they were almost done, but invited me to play for a bit.
Now I have to point out that this was a retirement community and none of these three men was young. One of them was 86 and had just had a triple bypass operation a few months earlier. Another was in his mid-seventies, and the third one was 67 years old. They all played very well, considering their age.
When the game broke up, I mentioned in passing that I had hoped to play more. The “youngster” of the group approached me and said that he could play one more set of singles if I was interested.
I should point out that this was at a point in my life where I was playing a lot of tennis; and while I wasn’t headed to the US Open any time soon, I had a respectable game.
I smiled to myself and thought, “Sure, I’ll play a set – if he can even last that long!”
About twenty minutes later, the match was over and the score was 6-love (6 games to zero). And I was the one with the zero score. He couldn’t cover the court like I could; he wasn’t hitting the ball as hard as I was; and his serves weren’t as good as mine. But he always seemed to be where I hit the ball, and he always managed to hit the ball over or around me on practically every return.
I have never been so simultaneously humiliated and inspired in all my life!
Since then, when I meet a new colleague, customer, or vendor, I try not to immediately come up with a preconceived opinion of their abilities and strengths, but instead, wait and see what they are able to contribute to any given business situation.
Ron Rosenberg is an award-winning expert in marketing and customer service. He shows businesses how to get more customers than they know what to do with and how to keep them for life.
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