Sunshine in the weather forecast

John Foust
By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

I remember attending a graduation ceremony for a class of nursing students. One of the speakers – who was also one of their instructors – said, “You help create the atmosphere in the room – for your patients, their families, your coworkers, and the doctors and technicians with whom you work. Your feelings have an impact, whether those feelings are cheerful or sad, optimistic or fearful.” She referred to a speech she heard at a healthcare convention. That speaker compared the mood of healthcare workers to the weather. Is it sunny and cheerful? Or rainy and dreary?

Nursing is a noble profession. As my wife and I listened, we couldn’t help but think of the medical appointments we’ve had through the years, and the nurses who have lifted our spirits. The weather comparison is an accurate description – and a poignant challenge.

My former dentist (now retired) had a hygienist named Carolyn. In addition to being extraordinarily skilled, she had a joyful personality that immediately put people at ease. She greeted each patient with comments like, “Let’s see how good things are looking today.” Then she made positive comments about the patient’s dental health as she worked. Sometimes there were surprises. In one of my appointments, I noticed that she had pinned a large poster of a horse on the ceiling above the chair. “Since you’re going to stare at the ceiling while I check your teeth,” she said, “you might as well look at a nice picture.”

It was always sunny in Carolyn’s office. There’s an old saying that some people brighten the room by arriving and others brighten the room by leaving. In the years I went to that dentist, she always brightened the room.

The famous Li’l Abner comic strip had a character named Joe Btfsplk, who always had a dark cloud over his head. That cloud of negativity followed poor Joe everywhere he went. (Don’t ask how to pronounce Joe’s last name.)

We’ve all met salespeople who travel around with dark clouds over their heads. They just don’t realize that no one wants to do business with – much less, buy anything from – someone with a cloudy attitude. 

Those salespeople need a strong dose of Carolyn’s cheerfulness. Her approach was simple: (1) Sincerely welcome each patient as though that person were her most important appointment of the day; (2) Find specific and positive things to say about the patient’s dental situation throughout the appointment; and (3) Send each person away with a good feeling about the outcome of the appointment. (Nothing was faked; she meant every word.) 

The same goes for your advertising interactions, whether you’re having a great day or whether you’ve just lost a big sale. Look at each conversation as a new start. (1) Open with a sincere smile and a word of cheer; (2) Be sure to point out the positives of the topic at hand along the way; and (3) Close the meeting with good news about the next step.

Try Carolyn’s technique and bring good weather into your next sales conversation.

(c) Copyright 2023 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training DVDs to save time and get quick results from in-house training. Email for information:

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