How good do you feel when you pay someone a compliment and their face lights up? Have you done that lately?
How good did YOU feel when someone paid YOU a compliment?
One of my great mentors, the late and great Jim Rohn summed it up perfectly for me…
“The things that are easy to do, are also easy NOT TO!”
We live in a world of instant judgements – a world of transparency thanks to the tidal wave of social media. Sometimes we manage to keep our heads above water, but it’s all too easy to drown…
To drown and sink in our world is easy because everyone has become a critic. Everyone has an opinion and an ever-growing crowd craves the attention that sharing that opinion can bring.
Today I noticed a girl standing in line next to me in a coffee shop, taking a ‘selfie’ of (I can only guess) the coffee shop critic. I wondered whether she was so impressed with the décor that she felt it necessary to record it for posterity, or whether she was recording the ignominy of having to queue with the commoners.
Maybe I’m being harsh – maybe this young lady was just delighted to be in a free country where she had the joy of being able to stand in a coffee shop knowing that she could afford to choose from one of the huge range of exotic twists in the whole coffee-guzzling experience?
Maybe she was just bored and wanted to send her boyfriend an image of herself so that he could pine at her absence?
My money, were I a betting man, and judging from her sour expression, would have been on her adding her two bob’s worth to some forum bemoaning the awful plight of having to wait more than a Nano-second to order her favourite beverage.
The coffee shop queue was no different to the supermarket queue – you’ve probably noticed the Law of Sod that decrees: ‘The moment you go to the checkout, everyone else in the shop also goes to the checkout!’
The staff were doing their best to cope and stay cheerful. I’d already enjoyed some friendly banter with them and it was no skin off my nose to have to wait a few seconds longer before I could pay. I followed on after the sour-puss had placed her order and probably rated the shop a mere ‘one star’, in her new-found role as a travelling coffee shop critic.
I gave the staff a simple smile, thanked them for a great coffee and wished them a wonderful afternoon. The beaming response informed me that my simple courtesy had made their day, without costing me a single cent extra.
The day before I had attended a networking breakfast at a new venue our group had been trialling. There were two young girls running an Indian restaurant, yet providing us with an English cooked breakfast. The host of the meeting had asked for feedback from the group in front of the staff, who were squirming in the background, yet doing their best to smile and retain an air of dignity.
I was nothing short of ‘gob-smacked’ as people went on the attack. “My eggs weren’t warm enough!” said one. “They served my coffee in a cup on a side plate instead of a saucer!” bellowed another as she launched a tirade of criticism at the abysmal efforts of the staff. “I mean surely they can afford some saucers, plus the sausage was too greasy” she continued. “There wasn’t enough choice when you ordered your coffee and what’s more…” Here came the ultimate restaurant review from this Michelin star-rating aficionado…” The toast was too white!”
“Give the wenches a good flogging!” I thought to myself, as my Monty Python humour kicked in. I was embarrassed for the poor hard-working staff and embarrassed that I belonged to the same group as these ungracious ingrates.
A few of us who had a somewhat kinder outlook managed to persuade the host to give the feedback to the staff and afford them an opportunity to improve on their standards. After all, in a room full of business owners, wouldn’t they expect the same courtesy from their customers? He didn’t actually need to give them the feedback of course because they were in the background listening to the volleys of indignant complainants.
The whole situation could have been handled so much more politely.
After the majority had left, I stayed for a meeting with a client and ordered two coffees. The staff continued to smile and do their best to look after us. Before I left, I stopped to have a chat with the girls, smiling back and thanking them for their efforts. They informed me that it was the first time they had ever cooked an English breakfast in their Indian restaurant! It was probably also the first time they had cooked around 16 breakfasts at the same time. I reassured them that I understood the pressure they had been under and that I had still enjoyed my breakfast. They added that next time, they would put the food in their bain-maries to keep it warm and let people serve themselves. Having had a trial run, they were confident they could do better. They thanked me for my custom and refused to let me pay for our coffees, on which I had previously also complimented them.
As I left their restaurant that morning, I knew that my few words of encouragement and gratitude and my smiles had lifted them from the gutter into which they had been kicked.
The world is not perfect. People are not perfect, yet they can be encouraged to raise their standards and left happier for the brief contact they had with you. It doesn’t take much – a few kind words, the effortless effort to make eye contact, the nod of your head in their direction and God forbid, a simple smile.
You have the power in you to make someone’s day and that simple act may just make your own day. In a world where many are starving, I think I can cope with my coffee arriving on a saucer. I can be grateful for having a breakfast at all and I can notice when someone is doing their best at something they have never done before. I encourage you to be a progressionist – join me in doing these little things more often because together we can make the world a better place.
Have a spectacular day! 🙂