In today’s world of communicating through texting, memes, and hashtags, we’ve lost the warmth and underlying decency that make our everyday interactions enjoyable and respectful. Though we’re sometimes not aware of our tone and demeanor, other people do feel its impact, and they react to it as well. A few years back, my wife and I were on vacation in Venice, Italy, and we were having trouble navigating our way back to St. Mark’s Square. I was a little harried, and I approached a local who was sitting by a fountain. Abruptly, I asked, “Where is St. Mark’s Square?”
He looked up at me, not smiling, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”
I knew he did, so I said, “Sure you do. How do I get there?”
He paused, stared at me and said, “If you’re going to ask me like that, then I don’t know.”
At this point, I stopped to consider what he meant, and it occurred to me that I was being another rude tourist. In that instant, I knew what was wrong—and I knew how to correct it.
“Let’s start this again, okay?” I then walked away, turned and approached him again. I said, “Good afternoon, how are you?”
His face brightened, and we exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, and then I asked politely for the directions to St. Mark’s Square. He not only showed me which path to take, but he carefully explained where to turn and what to look for. When he was done, he shook my hand and wished me a good trip.
I still think back to that interaction, and it reminds me of how important it is to greet and treat others the way I’d like to be treated. The easiest way to do this is to remember to be courteous and kind toward others. Throughout my inside sales career, as both a sales rep and as a sales coach, I have always stressed the importance of those two words, “Thank you” and “Please.” Nothing gets you further with a gatekeeper than using those magic words, and being polite and professional always helps you with both prospects and clients. If you want to transform your interactions with other people, and therefore your day-to-day experience, simply consider what other people might be going through and be kind to them. By taking a moment to empathize with them, you’ll be able to brighten someone else’s day—and yours, too.
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