Do yourself a favor and try this

A few weeks ago I wrote about the need to connect more with people, highlighting the role of dot connectors. I value the effort and talent of those who reach out to people to find common ground. We need more of this in the world.

If you are not inclined to do this, I want you to try something for a few days or even a week. As you pay for services or ask for help in any retail store, coffee shop, or supermarket, make a nice comment to the cashier or associate. It can be very simple such as “I hope you are having a good day,” or it could be something related to that person. Often, I find myself commenting on interesting names, tattoos, or just because the person had an effervescent smile.

Life is too short not to make conversation. And, you just might be making someone’s day who has been on his or her feet for several hours. I am reminded of the true story about the manager of a grocery store rushing out of his office to see all the paying customers in one line. He encouraged them to go to another line, but they wanted to stay in that one.

Why would they do that? The bagger for the line was an autistic teenager, but that is not the whole story. The teen was so moved by a speech the president of the company had made to all store staff when he dropped in the previous week, the teen had taken action. The president said “You are the company. You represent us to our customers. How they are treated is important.”

The young man went home and he worked with his mother to prepared little sayings on cut up index cards. His well wishes ranged from “Thank you for coming here” toHave a great day” to “Your business is important to us.” He would place these little well wishes in each shopper’s bag. So, the shoppers would flock to him each time they and he was in the store. They felt good about receiving his well wishes and wanted him to know it.

It only takes a few words to make a difference. After your trial period, take a pulse and see if this impacted others as well as you. It makes me feel good to touch someone like that. It is not uncommon for me to learn something new through conversation. Thanks for spending some time with me today.


43 thoughts on “Do yourself a favor and try this

  1. Over the years I always took on second jobs to help supplement my income. One such job was at McDonald’s. I worked all day solving problems with clients, peers and the administration and contrators. I was drained. At Mikey D’s the teenagers complained about everything. They felt they were doing too much. I on the other hand loved it. My line was long and people would wait to be served by me. One customer was a deaf grandfather who would bring his deaf grandson in on Saturdays. I would communicate with the child. We had visual menus on the counter. Another customer would come through the drive thru every night, order the same meal. Someone would always screw up his meal. He had a nasty attitude, sucking his teeth, rolling his eyes. One evening I told him what his order was. No onions, no salt on fries, no ice in soda. He looked me in the eye for the first time and smiled. I prepared his order the way he wanted and every time I was on duty I took care of him. I got smiles and pleasant conversation from him. I understand your words very well this morning. I work for the kindness police. I was stressed on my 9 to 5. McDonald’s was a social event for me.

  2. It is so true what you say, Keith! What makes the difference is often only to be recognized and appreciated. It doesn’t need a lot to make someone feel good! Wonderful thoughts, Keith!

  3. I was really touched by the story of the autistic teen putting thoughtful notes in the customers grocery bags. Thnk you for sharing it!

    • Many thanks and welcome. I can’t remember where I read the teen’s story. It may have been in Readers Digest. It moved me greatly, as well. Cheers and do come back and offer more comments. Keith

  4. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from working in retail was how important it is to treat every person you meet with recognition and kindness.

    When I was the retail clerk, and people looked at me and saw me and addressed me as a human, the interaction went far more pleasantly AND I had more energy to deal with the next person. It was like they transferred a small amount of energy to me just be recognizing I wasn’t a cog in a machine but a human person.

    So I try very hard (when I’m not so deep in the abyss I can barely keep from drowning myself) to actually look at the person I’m dealing with, and recognize them. I don’t even have to have much of a conversation – I just need to say hello. To give this moment with them my attention, instead of my phone or my worries or whatever.

    • Kim, I like your commenting about feeding off the positive energy a customer may give you. This especially holds true in dealing with customer service reps. We can navigate better customer service by treating the CSR with dignity and kindness. Thanks for your pearls of wisdom, Keith

  5. I have to admit that I seldom used to make conversation with sales people beyond what was necessary to complete the transaction. I was always polite but I let my shyness and introversion get the best of me. My husband has taught me by example how fun and rewarding it can be to interact with cashiers, sales representatives, and just random strangers as we go about our day. “Please” and “thank you” are always important, but taking an interaction beyond that almost always yields positive results. Thanks for the reminder to make the effort!

    • Janis, it is my pleasure. Your husband sounds like a decent bloke. Your comment that “almost always yield positive results,” reminds me of the movie “Brian’s Song” about Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo. Sayers was shy, so when Piccolo says “thank you” and gets no response, he tells him “I said thank you. That usually means you say something like you’re welcome or how’s your mother?” Gale says “How’s your mother?” To which, Brian says, “She is fine, thank you for asking.” And, so it goes. Thanks for stopping by, Keith

      • He IS a decent bloke! After watching the way my husband engaged with others, I realized that my shyness was all about me and my feelings. Once I learned to open up more to strangers, I stopped being so aware of me because my focus was on the other person. A win-win as far as I’m concerned. I hate it when someone is engaged in a cellphone conversation all the way through a wait line and not even acknowledge the person helping them. I think it’s the height of rudeness, but, unfortunately, I’m seeing it more and more.

      • You might appreciate what my brother does when is working as a pharmacist in a major supermarket chain. If someone is on a cell phone when he or she steps up to the counter, and he or she does not cease the conversation, my brother will go to the next person in line. He recognizes that other customers should not have to wait on the rude caller in line. He is uniformly thanked, except by the one he skipped over.

  6. An absolutely lovely woman sat next to me yesterday at a coffee shop. WE flexed, straightened our backs, stretched, the high stools had no backs so most people would leave sooner. WE began to talk, an hour passed, fascinating woman, the quality of that hour WE will continue. I consider the fluke of your post parallel the experience of life yesterday. “Nicely co-incidental” Her left arm was removed as a child – I build gadgets and apparatus when disabled persons ask for assistance searching ways to be more mobile.

    • Lee, what a great connection. When we let it, conversations with strangers can lead us to wonderful outcomes. Best wishes on continued conversations with your new friend. Keith

  7. Note to Readers: I have shared a few of these stories before, but these recurring little conversations can blossom as GliderPilotLee notes. I have stumbled onto people that I went to high school with (this is three states away), someone who went to school with my brother-in-law in the 1970s, the father of one of my son’s friends, children of clients of mine, the nephew of my favorite college professor, and so on. An additional piece of advice, do not hesitate to say “do you know…” once you learn of some connection. Many times they won’t, but they just might know someone you do.

  8. The small interactions with people I encounter at stores or who come into my office for a bit are how I practice being less shy and introverted. People stress how much customer service is lacking these days, but don’t examine their own dismissive behavior of service workers at times. It’s hard to be sunny and bubbly for 8 hours while on your feet. Taking time to look people in the eye and saying thank you is painless. Good advice.

    • Thanks Amaya. Janis had a similar observation about overcoming her tendency to be shy, so it is good practice. My wife is outgoing, but would rather others talk about themselves, so she gets them started through pleasant conversation and is a terrific listener. Thanks for stopping by, Keith

  9. I always do this. I know how much just a few words to acknowledge my humanity have meant to me in the past and I try to pay that forward. It’s interesting that some people whom I’ve been in the company of, while talking to a stranger, are very uncomfortable about my behavior. Also, I understand that this “chattiness” is often considered the mark of an American. Apparently countries like England and Germany tend to be more formal with each other. Although, I even do this as best I can while traveling…therefore, I suppose, highlighting my nationality even further!

    • Linda, I figured you would be inclined to do this. Interesting how we may be more inclined to do this than folks in other countries. I have not traveled as much as you, so would not know. Thanks, Keith

  10. I’m not a small talker. I really dislike chit chat, small talk, etc. Most introverts do. It doesn’t mean we’re unfriendly, far from it. Give us a deep conversation any day, but chit chat unfortunately, really drains us. Isn’t there enough of it already? I think less talk more peace and quiet, seems like we and our shoes talk too much? Now, acknowledgment and acknowledging peopke, THAT is basic respect and decency, and i couldn’t agree more.

    • Candice, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think we should each dignity and respect in ways that are comfortable to us. More introverted folks may do it differently than extroverted folks. To me the key is sincerity. A well meant thank you goes a long way. Thanks for your pertinent comment. Keith

      • Ah yes sincerity. I agree. That’s the key. I grew up extrovert ab d very friendly, I changed with time but I always notice and smile and say hello to those around me because the world needs to be kinder and gentler

      • Interesting. When I have taken the Myers Briggs personality test, I tend to be in the middle of introverted/ extroverted. There are times I choose to be more extroverted, while others more introverted. I like all kinds of people and enjoy learning from them. I think we all are varying shades of gray.

      • Before moving to America I was more outgoing but I found American people to be SO outgoing it made me less so and i do find it hard to match how outgoing they are it can be very different to other cultures and here I am probably seen as quiet. The MMRI is a good indication. I also think we change based on experience

      • Very interesting. Americans may vary around the country. My good friend Mary who is from Rochester, NY told me she had to get used to people in NC speaking to you in line at the supermarket. She said in New York, people would think you are crazy if you spoke to a stranger in line. I appreciate greatly your perspective on this. Thanks for sharing, Keith

  11. Btw it’s worth noting, introversion is not a personality failure, maybe if we remember over 50 percent of us are introverts which only means we do NOT get out energies from others, we’d stop feeling bad for being an introvert?

    • Candice, thank you for your follow on comment. In my “acting presidential” post, I made reference that there is a trend toward more introverted CEOs. The job is more complex , so companies are gravitating to people who understand financials and intricacies of the business. Thanks again for your perspective. Keith

      • I wonder if there’s a downside though because a more extroverted personality may be more visibly people oriented, what do you think?

      • Candice, I believe there always could be a downside when someone pushes past their comfort zone. My sister is more introverted and is worried about looking for another part time job. Just yesterday she asked “What if I fail?” My response was “Then you fail. If you keep your other PT job, you haven’t lost. But, don’t sell yourself short. You are loyal, dependable, honest, diligent and show up and show up on time. A store manager will love you.” Thanks for your thoughts. They are most helpful. Keith

      • I think shyness and introversion can be shared but are not mutually exclusive. I am not overly shy, nor do i appear introverted but I get drained and need quiet recharging time. I’d say most would see me as neither intro or extro but it’s all about energy. Do you rely on others for it or yourself? I’m very, very independent and i don’t need others as much as extroverts sometimes other people can be overrated but basic politeness, respect and dignity are critical.

      • Candice, thanks for sharing your story. I like recharging alone as you stated. I am an early riser, so one of my favorite times is reading the paper with a morning coffee. I also like to walk and hike sans music. I like to hear the nature. I enjoy people, but do enjoy being alone. Thanks again, Keith

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