Back in the early 90s, Kathy and I particularily enjoyed a restaurant that had an appetizer specialty called teacup bread. The bread would arrive warm and still nested inside of a teacup. This was a really special treat. The bread was light and soft and had a sweet flavor. You really could eat this bread for dessert. We loved the food at this place, but really, the bread always brought us back. We would get several servings. Warm, sweet bread. I really want some right now!
Warm bread is a great way to invite guests into your restaurant. The smell, the taste- every sense gets bathed with great bread offered as an appetizer. I remember several restaurant experiences where the most memorable part of the meal was the bread. Warm and inviting. Something really special that leaves a lasting memory.
I have also had the pleasure to meet people that I would say have the characteristics of warm bread. Upon meeting them you are immediately enveloped in warmth. You can feel the love ooze from them. Like the bread, they leave a lasting memory. You can’t help but think about them. They are like the teacup bread- you want to go back for more.
What makes a person that you meet like warm bread? What makes them irresistible? Here are a few observations:
Focus: They are completely focusing on you. They look you straight in the eye as you begin to talk to them. You are the only person in their world. They have the skill to shut off everything else.
Smile: They start with a smile and have a way to continue to smile throughout the conversation. The smile is a powerful tool. A smile disarms. A smile invites you in. A smile tells you that they are enjoying your company.
Genuine: They are genuine in every way. They want to know about you. They are humble and authentic. There is no agenda. The focus is personal.
Listen: They are skilled listeners. The questions are based on getting to know you. They do not lead you in a particular direction for their benefit. They allow you to tell your story and let you enjoy doing it.
Connect: They are skilled at connecting the wires between you and them. They will seek out common characteristics and interests. You will share ideas, struggles and experiences. You will feel like you have known them for years.
Easy: They have a way to navigate through a conversation that makes it fun and enjoyable. No awkward quiet moments. No challenges. You will have the opportunity to share a little or a lot- your choice. Time flies by as you talk and connect.
Have you been there before? Can you think of someone you have met who is unusually warm and engaging?
OK- confession time. I am not that person. I would characterize myself as crusty rye bread- not tea cup bread! I struggle with focus. I tend to be serious, so I typically have to remember to smile. I tend to talk only when I need something. I am content to sit in silence. This is my nature, however, I am aware of it now. I have to make an effort to be the warm bread. It doesn’t come natural to me, but I am learning and I recognize the power that warm bread has. My typical nature is selfish and I know it. However, I am getting better- much better!
We often overlook the effect that we have on others. A smile goes a long way and it is such a simple gesture. Are you a warm bread person? Do you focus on others instead of trying to get out your story? Are there areas that you can work on as you interact with others to make yourself inviting? Like the tea cup bread, once you master the skills of warm bread you will bring them back over and over again- a warm and sweet relationship!