This past week I took my kids to a well known fast food chain. Not something I do often, but I was tired and so were the kids…not sure any of us would have held up long enough to sit in a restaurant. From the minute we walked in, we were greeted by a smile and warm welcome by this employee. After placing our order we waited…and waited, for our food. Two mins became almost fifteen. I can tell you, after a long day of being out, there was a reason why I gave in to fast food…it because we would get our food fast. Each passing minute, I feared we were closer to one of my children melting down. They were like little ticking timebombs. Every few mins this sweet girl would check on our food and us. When it was finally ready, she apologized and offered us a free dessert.
Whether she knew it or not, this girl working behind the counter controlled this conversation. Although normally all smiles, today I was tired and done. This lovely girl could have followed my lead, taken our order and simply blamed the delay and my dissatisfaction on someone else. But she didn’t, she set the tone and steered the conversation and experience in a positive direction, starting with her smile, and although I passed on the dessert offer, her genuine concern during our wait was much appreciated. In the end it was not what I got, but the experience I had. She not only prevented me from becoming upset over the longer wait, but she had improved my mood overall. For that I thank her.
When dealing with others, I think we need to remember that it isn’t only what we do for them, but how we do it. We have the power to change someone’s mindset, brighten their day…starting with something as simple as a smile. How we greet others, from our body language to the words that come out of our mouths, can set the tone for the conversation going forward. Empathy and patience, can do as much for the conversation as our actions.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh