“Walton Ten-Foot Rule”
Sam Walton, Wal-Mart’s iconic founder and perhaps the most successful entrepreneur of his generation, showed considerable charisma, ambition, and drive from a very young age.
Sam was a committed student leader when he attended the University of Missouri, Columbia. One of the secrets to his reputation at college was that he would greet and speak to everybody he came across on the campus. And, he would address them by their name if he knew them. In a short time, he set off to make many friends and became well-liked. Small wonder, then, that Sam triumphed in nearly all the student elections he contested.
When Wal-Mart became sizeable enough, Sam realized that Wal-Mart could not just yet offer its customers lower prices than the other retail giants could. As part of his customer service strategy, he institutionalized the very trait that had helped him become popular when he was a student. He insisted on the “Walton Ten-Foot Rule.” According to the rule, when Wal-Mart associates (as Wal-Mart calls its employees) came within ten feet of customers, they were to smile, make eye contact, greet the customer, and offer assistance. As Wal-Mart grew, Sam added greeters who would greet customers at the door (and control ‘shrinkage’/shoplifting.) Even today, the Ten-Foot Rule continues to be part of the Wal-Mart culture.
Likeability — A Predictor to Success
Likeability is an important predictor to success in life. Some people seem naturally endowed with appealing personalities. They tend to complement their aptitudes by being personable and graceful, by presenting themselves well, and by possessing the social skills for every occasion. They tend to win others over effortlessly. At school and college they are their teachers’ favorites and get chosen by their peers to represent their classes. They get invited to the right kind of parties and gatherings, and live the life of these parties. At work, they are persuasive; they get noticed and quickly climb the corporate ladder.
From my observations of the traits of the talented and successful, I offer you a few reminders to help you become more personable, develop rapport, and thus maximize your chance of success.
- Look people in their eyes. Smile. Greet them by their names.
- Listen. Speak with a pleasant tone of voice. Speak in a positive manner. Show respect. Indeed, even your adversaries have some admirable characteristics.
- Show genuine interest in others. Try to build a rapport by sharing something about yourself with them.
- Say “Please,” “Sorry,” and “Thank you.” Offer a kind word. Compliment them. Do not flatter.
- Consider the other’s perspectives and perceive his/her circumstances before disagreeing.
- Practice compassion. Make a sincere effort to help others.
- Do not overdo any of the above. Try your best. Do not please others at the expense of your own sanity — stay true to your values, principles, and happiness.
- What the deaf can teach us about listening
- How to overcome shyness in initiating conversations
- Keeping good eye contact
- Overcoming the temptation to please
- The power of genuine interest in others