Herald Journal Columns
Aug. 29, 2005, Herald Journal

Cutting off more than stems

By LIZ HELLMANN

I recently wrote about money hungry wedding vendors waiting to soak up all your money.

Further along in my search for various wedding day services, it has come to my attention that some vendors need to patch a few holes in their sponges before inhaling my pocketbook.

I am talking about customer service. Having been in the industry of customer service, I have learned a few things that some of the vendors I have crossed paths with either don’t know, or don’t care about.

For example, as a tour guide for my college, I learned that you need to be able to talk to people and make them feel comfortable.

However, the key to the whole process is to make sure you listen to them when they have something to say.

It has been known as the gift of gab (which I am, in no way, claiming I have). This gift can turn into the curse of chatter, if careful consideration is not practiced.

Recently, I salvaged a sliver of time to visit a few florist shops in search of one for my wedding. (And to the five people who are actually reading my column, thank you. If any of you know of a good florist, I’m not against helpful advice. On the other hand, horrific tales of flowers gone awry can give clues as to which ones to trim from my list.)

Flowers are one of the most important elements in a wedding, as far as decorations are concerned. They will be seen by everyone, and be acclaimed as breathtakingly beautiful, not really noticed at all, or possibly wilt the magic of the special day.

I must admit, for a girl who is rather green when it comes to flowers (forgive the puns, but I couldn’t resist), I have a hard time telling a tea rose from a garden rose.

One thing I do know, is that I don’t want my flowers to be the subject of a “pity conversation.”

I can just hear them now. “Poor girl, she put so much work into this. But no one will know, because her flowers got delivered late and wilted.”

“Yes, it’s a shame. She should’ve just eloped, or been married in the courthouse, where no one else could see this.”

Tragic.

And I’m not about to spend a small fortune on space fillers, flowers that are barely noticed at all.

So, it is with this pressure on my shoulders, I embark on my journey to find the perfect florist, or at least one decent enough that will fit my budget. Nothing diminishes dreams like the almighty dollar.

As lady luck would have it (who, I am convinced, is just mad at me because she hasn’t had a date in years), the flower shop I was intending to visit was closed.

Yes, I did check the hours before I left.

It happened to be a complete fluke. There was a big town event going on, and the shop closed for the day because the owner apparently didn’t think it would be worth it to stay open.

Disgruntled by this turn of events, I decided to visit a bridal shop in the area.

The same fate awaited me at that door.

A little handwritten note, taped to the inside, made it quite clear.

“We’re closed today. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Not nearly as sorry as I am. Frustrated at having carefully carved time out of my particularly busy day, I was determined to not let the trip be a total loss.

Spotting another local florist shop, I ventured closer.

I half expected it to be closed, but it wasn’t.

Already not in the best of spirits, I began looking around.

The salesperson, who was obviously busy with several things, stopped by to help.

I told her I was looking for a wedding florist.

She showed me several books with examples, explained that I could call and schedule a consultation, and showed me some examples they had in the store.

She was fairly helpful, and extremely nice.

But I don’t think I needed to be there at all.

It seemed every time I opened my mouth, she started talking. I had to try several times to ask a question.

I would get about three words into my sentence and she would start talking again.

I waited for her to stop talking, and whenever there was a pause, I would start again.

She must have cut me off half a dozen times, at least. Not even adding to the last thing she had said; she would just start a new topic.

I finally had to talk noticeably louder and quickly, just so I could ask my question.

To her credit, she was very busy. But that still does not excuse her interruptions.

I don’t know if I will go back to that shop or not, but I was less than impressed.

I feel it is a personal attack when people interrupt. Obviously, not every interruption needs to cause another world war, but they do tell us soemthing.

If someone is constantly interrupting you, chances are they aren’t really listening.

Instead, they are running through in their minds what they think, which is an important part of a conversation. But constantly interrupting can mean they are only thinking about their reply, and not really about your message.

Communication is an important part of life. (I thought it was so important, I decided to learn about it for four years in college.)

Wedding vendors, friends, and people in general need to be careful that they are actually listening to others.

People notice when you are not taking them seriously, which can result in business, friendships, and other relationships being cut short.