What The Apple Store Taught Me About Being an Adult

During the past weeks, consulting with clients, I’ve been waylaid by directors, managers and even a CEO, demanding to know, “Why can’t my team act like adults?” “I shouldn’t have to repeat myself, she should know, she’s an adult.”  “It’s not that hard to do; he’s an adult, he should know better.” 


Each client has a particular reason for their frustration and while some of those reasons are legitimate, others I think are unreasonable. I’m struck, though, by the growing chorus of executives who believe their people are not acting like “adults.”

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an “adult” and have even been questioning if I’m an adult!  Then, last week, a team member at my local Apple Store, reminded me of what an “adult” looks and sounds like.

Earlier in the day I’d upgraded my Sprint-serviced i-phone to the 8+ – oh, happy day!  Later, as I was trying to download stored info, I ran into a snag. Frustrated, and with only an hour before the store closed, I dashed off to the mall. I walked into the Apple Store and spotted a team member who looked like he was just waiting for me.

He flashed a smile as I pleadingly asked, “Can you help me?”

He was facially attentive as I fumbled with my explanation.

He could lead a workshop on the power of non-verbal communication!

In under a minute, he assured me, “I think I know what the problem is. Come with me.”

We went over to another team member and he fired off a few sentences of jargon.  To my relief the other guy agreed with him. I told him I was impressed and he broke into a pleased smile as we went over to a table station. He plugged my phone into a MacBook, extended his hand, asked me my name and told me his name is Jonathan. He assured me he’d be back in a few minutes. To my relief, he did come back, checked the phone and all was set.

So simple!

Simple because Jonathan was –




comfortable in the store environment



– all of which made me feel valued.

And that’s what an adult does – she or he makes other people feel valued.

In my communication skills workshops and one-on-one interpersonal communication skills coaching I remind participants that people like to do business with people they like. Why?  Because people like people who make them feel valued. 

Jonathan reminded me, in my moment of need, just how important “likability” is as we go about conducting business.

And THAT’S what makes someone an “adult” – they know how to be likable by knowing how to make someone feel valued.

What does it take to be likable?


Top 10 Ways To Create “Likability”

  • You telegraph that you see the other person by having your eyes connect at the same time your face breaks into a smile.
  • You introduce yourself by name and make a point to remember the other person’s name.
  • You engage the other person in a calm, assured and assuring tone of voice and overall posture.
  • Your speech is clear, not rushed, and you avoid waffling words and hedges.
  • You convey that you’re genuinely curious about how you might help the other person and so you ask, “what brings you here today?” and avoid a canned customer service script.
  • No matter how fumbling the person is in explaining the problem, you patiently search for clarity and so you don’t interrupt by finishing thoughts and sentences.
  • You know that you have a responsibility to explain what you know and so you know you are responsible for guiding the encounter.
  • You confidently use phrases such as: “I take responsibility,”  “Here’s what we can do,”  “I’ll handle it,”  “I appreciate that. . .”  “I understand that you. . .”
  • And, hey, humor goes a long way to putting people at ease – when used appropriately.
  • At the end of encounter, you remember to ask, “what else can I do for you?”

In reading over this list, you may think, “but what about the jerks that are bullying in their response?”

Yes, some customers, internal and external, may be toxic. And there are techniques for dealing with them.

First, though, master the basics because in today’s world, the real adult is the master of the basics!

Interested in learning how YOU can generate likability so as

 to lead and present with confidence?

Let’s talk!

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