Commuting can be pretty horrible. You don’t need me to tell you that.
But this blog is a tribute to one man who makes it a little better for hundreds if not thousands of people. I want to tell you about how much I’ve learned from him.
He’s called James, and he is the announcer at a station I use most days. He begins every announcement with the words
“Hello, my name’s James.”
James is a middle-aged man with a shy smile and a kind, gentle voice, and he’s normally wrapped up warm because he stands on the platforms all day.
“Please be careful not to slip. I say this to you because I care about each and every one of you. It’s because of you that I have my lovely job.”
Now, reading this, you may wonder if he means all the things he says. But there is something about his delivery that is so sincere, so heartfelt, that I know he does.
So, what has he taught me, and why am I writing about him in this blog about the charity sector? Well, I’ve learned so much from James about communication:
- Make it personal – James is addressing each of us individually. In the age of automated announcements, he is speaking to the commuters as people, not as a big faceless group. We need to do the same when we communicate with our supporters. Each one is different.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind – James’s voice is authentic, which is why I believe him when he says how much he loves his job. It is a personal point of view and is indisputable. What do you love about the organisation you work for? How can you communicate in a way that is distinctive to you?
- Find your voice – James speaks with such directness and clarity that it is quite astonishing. I learned from him to tell people what I appreciate about them. And to do it sincerely and honestly.
- Make someone smile – this is an important one. I often look across the platform when James is speaking. Most people are stony-faced as usual. But a few people are smiling. He has reached them. I try and do the same in even the most serious meetings. I don’t mean that I make jokes, but making a connection and getting a smile can make such a difference.
Hello, my name’s Richard. I love writing this blog and I love working with and for charities. And I hope my messages can stay in your mind sometimes, just like James’s stay in mine.
James, this one’s for you.