How Do You Treat The Waiter?

We’ve all heard that you can judge the person you’re dating by how they treat the waiter. The idea being that this reveals how they are to other people, that possibly they’re only kind to people they like, think are important or can do something for them. And it might be true, it could be an easy yard stick.

When I was shopping the other day just by not throwing unfolded clothes around I received immense gratitude from the sales associate. How could it be that our expectations are so low that this ordinary act was so appreciated?

It all got me thinking about expectations on how we treat each other in these situations. When someone is paid to serve us (usually very little) what are the world’s expectations and how can we change or exceed them?

I worked in retail most of my young life with a stint as a waitress thrown in there. So I know what it’s like on both sides. But that was 10 years ago. I wonder if technology has blurred the lines of distinction that you’re talking to a real person. That was before receipts were posted online showing tips and messages good and bad. Before there were tumblrs and twitters set up to complain about the horrible things customers do. Before our daily interactions became entertainment. Our culture has changed a lot and I don’t know that we’re really taking the time to think about these interactions past talking about how our dates treated the waiter.

But we should. This is an easy win. It’s also an almost daily win. We’re likely to go to the grocery, get food, and/or buy something daily. I think there are some easy steps we can take to improve everyone’s day.

  1. Acknowledge that you’re interacting with a real life human being. Put away your phone, make eye contact, smile, use their name if you can, something, anything to visible communicate that you know they’re not a machine.
  2. Think beyond yourself and have patience. Use having another living breathing person in front of you as a reminder that you’re not alone. Your actions have an impact on others. Be patient in lines, acknowledge when someone is busy with something else, maybe doing something for you, and let them know you’re okay waiting a minute because you see they’re doing what they can. Let them know you saw how someone else treated them and tell them how well they handled it. Just let them know you are there, you’re their partner for these few minutes and you’re going to help them help you.
  3. Be appreciative. Say thank you. Smile. Be kind.

A lot of people go into a service situation in a very combative way. Having been there and tried both ways – being nice is ALWAYS better. If you ask nicely for a manager, if you ask for an exception or another solution you’ll probably get one. I called an airline about an expired gift certificate and when the person I was talking to couldn’t help I asked nicely for a manager and ended the phone call getting exactly what I wanted. They’re there to help and when you come at them with a pleasant energy you become someone they want to be around and they’ll want to help you more and be more willing to bend rules. Treat them like a person and that’s how they’ll treat you. It’s really as easy as that. Positive energy is contagious.

When I worked in retail I knew that when someone was upset or would yell that it wasn’t personal. Something was happening in their life that I had nothing to do with and knew nothing about. But it made my smile fake, it made it a chore, and it made me defensive. Sometimes I could turn it around but more often than not it was just another horrible customer that I’d hope none of my friends would ever date.

Being Kind in an Unkind World

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We all go through hard times. All of us have come across people who might be jealous or sad, who try to break us down. Mean happens to all of us. It can be from strangers, acquaintances, or people we are close to. I try to keep in mind that these are mean moments, mean actions, not mean people. But honestly sometimes that thought leaves my mind entirely and I just think of them as the meanest person on the planet.

So how do you do it? How can you be kind in an unkind world? There are a few ways, unfortunately none are very easy in practice. But that’s just it – it’s a practice and it takes practice. Overtime you’re kind in the unkind world you get a little better at it.

Energy is like a snowball, the more you add to it the bigger it gets rolling down the hill. When someone comes at you with negative energy or a mean comment you can either add to it and get the ball rolling down the hill faster or you can counter it with a positive energy snowball and see if that can pick up some speed. Positivity may not stop the negative snowball but at least it isn’t adding to it. And more importantly it helps to keep yourself from getting dragged downhill with them.

But what you really need to do is take them out of it. Decide how you want to treat people and treat everyone that way – in a mean moment or a kind one. Create the integrity in yourself that you can be kind because you want to be kind and not base the decision on how you’re treated or if it will be reciprocated or if someone deserves it or not. Decide that everyone deserves your kindness.

It’s hard. This is something that challenges us all. It takes practice and patience with yourself. It’s unlikely that you’re going to be as kind as you want to be in every situation. But you can keep trying.

Try this – When you’re having a calm moment by yourself, think of something small that you can do that’s kind – looking people in the eyes, not complaining, complimenting, smiling, whatever it might be. Then write it down – “I am someone who _____.” and keep it with you, on your desk, your screensaver, in your wallet, etc. Challenge yourself to do that particular act of kindness everyday to everyone for 21 days. Strangers, friends, your boss, your kids, that person on the freeway that just cut you off, everyone. After 21 days write another note. You’ll find after awhile you won’t need the note, you won’t have to think about it. You will be someone who looks people in the eye. Personal kindness will become part of who you are instead of what you’re trying to do. And it will be a little bit easier to be kind.

 

Let me know what your note says in the comments!

Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day!

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day! #RandomActsofKindnessDay‬

 

I know when I hear about random acts of kindness I think of grand gestures that a step above and beyond, that take thought and work, and can even be inconvenient or difficult. It reminds people to do something they normally wouldn’t. Be kind when no one expects you to.

 

That’s why I use the term “personal kindness” in my Weekly Check-Ins, I only consider small things that I did personally to be kind. Focus on just a small choice I made to be kind when I could have been mean or neutral. I’m trying for consistent acts of kindness, or making the random, standard. Of course this is a process that I think about every week and I’m far from perfect, sometimes it’s still random. But I’m shooting for simple kindness. Everyday kindness. I don’t mind if I’m kind so often that people expect it, because I expect of myself. I would hate to just be randomly kind, I want to be consistently kind.

 

Not to say of course that Random Acts of Kindness and RAoKD is not wonderful. We should all be thinking about and acting kindly. Every kindness helps.

 

How are you going to celebrate #RandomActsofKindnessDay‬?