Thursday, November 7, 2013

Being Pleasant

I find myself wanting to share some fairly simple things recently.  In particular, today I am going to share a few thoughts on being pleasant.  It pays off in so many ways that I don't even expect it to sometimes.

First, I am a frequent customer at the local grocery store early in the morning.  Often after a run.  Often still sweaty.  Often looking a mess.  But I always have a conversation with the cashier.  There is one rather dour cashier who is always talkative and pleasant in conversation but never terribly happy looking.  Yet the other day when it happened to make more sense to go to the other cashier (they actually had two on duty very early) the cashier I most often interact with made sure to say hello and wish me a good day.  My pleasantness to her on all the other days came back to me by her taking a moment out to specifically wish me a good day even when she didn't have to.  That was pretty cool and made me feel like my efforts to be pleasant were appreciated.

That same morning, I went to the service desk to ask if the store had cards for the local public transportation system.  These are cards that allow a person to not carry cash but to put a certain amount of money on the card to spend.  My 14 year old needs one.  The person at the customer service desk just past 7 AM looked busy and I was not even sure if the service desk was open.  So I began with, "I'm sorry to bother you this early and I'm not even sure if the desk is open yet but could I ask just a quick question."  She gave a smile and a pleasant answer (unfortunately she didn't have any of the cards) and even told me about how she had been to several other stores in the chain that also did not have the cards but that she could call for me.  I told her I could take care of it, but I was again happy with how my pleasantness turned into pleasantness in return.

Then, I had two situations with colleagues.  One was in a meeting in which there is often an adversarial relationship with a particular group.  However, when I started by telling my colleagues, I need their help and their input, they were gracious and offered exactly what I needed.  That made things easy.  Several colleagues were surprised by how helpful these other colleagues were.  I find that sometimes it is all a matter of context as well as how the situation is approached.  If we can leave past issues behind and just focus on how I need help now people are willing to be pleasant in return.

Finally, a new group is now part of my office.  I had a chance to meet with the group and surprised them by not sounding like a politics driven bureaucrat.  I hope I never sound that way, but I may.  In any case, it was just about telling them "here is where I come from and I know you all have skills and information that can help me to do my job and achieve my goals."  That made them feel appreciated and they did the same for me in return.  

Lesson learned from four situations in one week--being pleasant pays dividends.  I hope I never lose this outlook on life.   

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