Postladies and receptionists…

“No-one thanks the postman for doing his job”.

So said the famous Welsh goal-kicker Neil Jenkins to his then Irish equivalent Ronan O’Gara in 2001.

The message? It’s your job to kick the ball over the bar and secure points for your team. Don’t expect any thanks for doing so. Just do your job, same as the postman delivers his letters.

Seth Godin, one of my favourite writers, has a new book out. It’s called The Practice and contains 219 short tips about the creative process.

In No. 111 he also addresses the idea of doing your job, specifically that of a receptionist. He writes that being a pretty good receptionist is fairly easy – ‘sit at the desk and make sure that visitors don’t steal the furniture or go behind the magic door unescorted’.

But in the following paragraphs he comes up with some interesting examples of things you could do if you wanted to be a great receptionist.

Here are a few…(some adapted)

  • Request a small budget for bowls of Maltesers or a chocolate bar for the occasional grumpy visitor
  • Bake a batch of cookies every few days
  • Ask the organisation for updates on who is coming in each day in order to be able to personally greet them
  • Collate recent positive news about the company in a binder for visitors to read while they’re waiting.
  • Stream some old Seinfeld episodes on a screen in reception.
  • Prepare the visitor before they enter the magic door – ‘Did you know John had a new grandchild enter the family last week’?

But back to delivering letters.

Bernie Flynn – our postlady in Ransboro has no need to read this particular section. Because she knows that while delivering the letters is an important part of her job, it is only one element of it, and the extra bits she does elevate her from being a pretty good postlady to a great postlady.

  • A card for the children in the neighbourhood when they return to school each year
  • Little surprises in the letterbox every so often.
  • Remembering special occasions.
  • A little hint about a neighbour who might need an extra visit this week.

So it’s no harm every so often to take some time to think about how we can do our jobs better. Not just the obvious parts, but also the personal touches that we can bring outside of them to make things more efficient, make someone else’s life easier, or to put a smile on people’s face.

Column 13 for the Sligo Weekender. Published Nov 26th 2020.

PS I like the opening phrase of this blog so much that this is the second blog in which I reference it – here’s the first.

Photo by Kirsty TG on Unsplash