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Category Archives: Courtesy

courtesy_ralph waldo emerson

To the parents, educators, managers, and customer service people, please use the teachable moments while you can.

My coworker tells me about the differences between millennials and “old folks”(I am her mother’s age). We only have so long to be heard by our young, and peers, and that window is closing so much faster than ever.  That generational thing is simply not an excuse.

Yesterday, as I headed into the grocery store, a tall young man was walking opposite me in the narrow lane.  He walked while looking down at his phone.  He continued walking into me as if it were my fault that I had nowhere else to go and should get out of the way to avoid being bumped into.  As he looked down at his phone, and we were less than 10 inches apart, he never lifted his head.  Finally, in frustration, I said to him “Really? You are going to walk into me because of your phone?”  I had to sidestep towards a wall.  He just kept going.

This afternoon, I was waiting to pay almost $300 at an establishment.  Of course, it was not quite that simple.  First, the young woman could not check the price of something additional for purchase without a humph.  Then, she told me that my total bill would be $367.  I explained that it couldn’t be that number.  Agitated, she looked down at her computer  while I waited for her to reassess.  Then she told me that my bill would be $327. Again, I explained that two of the items were a specific price and my bill could not be that amount.  She argued with me, “No,” she said, “This is it.”  As I stood there, another employee (who made me regret not going to her in the first place) told her that I was correct.  She didn’t acknowledge that she had made a mistake.   But, after I continued to wait for her  to make the necessary changes, I still treated her with courtesy; I said “Thank you.”  She said “OK.”

Let me be clear.  OK is not a suitable reply to Thank You.  Not only is it rude in almost every circumstance, outside of someone saying “thanks” in sarcasm, but particularly so in customer service.  Did I leave with a bad feeling? Absolutely.  It makes me rethink spending my hard earned money there anytime soon.

As I drove home, I stopped at a 4-way stop.  Courtesy or law, whatever the motivator, each person stops and waits their turn.  However, the young driver did not stop to wait his turn. He plowed on through.  When I hit my horn, I was given a lovely fist and high-fingered salute.  At the next light, as I waited behind him, he was on his phone. Wanting to move away from him, I got in the second left turn lane.  As the light changed color, he stayed on his phone, and I made the turn.  Then, he came through the light starting on my right, moved behind me and moved to my left and cut me off.

Driving is not supposed to be the thing you do when you are NOT on your phone in a car. Driving is supposed to be the primary thing one does in a moving vehicle.  Computers and cell phones aren’t supposed to completely replace courteous human interaction.  Nor is someone’s age a qualification for entitlement.   At some time, someone must have tried to teach what courtesy is supposed to be and the most basic of communication forms.

It is my job to instill manners, courtesy and positive human interaction as a parent.  Not wanting someone to ask why my own child wasn’t raised right, I tried to share the customer service experience with my own millennial.  Well, the response I got was “I don’t need your lessons.  I’m doing just fine on my own.”

We are supporting many of these millennials financially, and otherwise, in the home, at work, and in the retail environment.  I have had some expensive lessons in rudeness in the last 24 hours, but I see that courtesy seems to be even more precious.

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Have you had this kind of experience? What did you do?

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elizabeth-arden spa day

Most people have to work for a living. The money that they earn is by the honest labor of their hands. However, who you have to work with or for can be a major source of stress in your life.

There are special people who are wealthy but also kind, solicitous, charitable and altruistic. There are others who have money and feel that palm fronds should be laid at their feet while someone feeds them grapes. They seem to be a little out of touch with the “little people” (yes, I have heard that expression used about those of us in a lower tax bracket) and very out of touch in their expectations.

Today, I treated myself to a pedicure as the woman who I had come to know was going to be transferring to a location at the InterContinental Hotel in Washington D.C. A meteor would hit the White House before I will be in that area, so I took my last opportunity for a spa treatment.

There are four stations lined horizontally, with deep white sink tubs for soaking feet and high backed chairs presumably for relaxing. One character speaks, everyone can hear.

The woman on my left remained on her phone for most of my visit and certainly hers. She sounded like a woman negotiating with her daughter-in-law for time with her grandson. It saddened me because I knew from the way she spoke, that she was walking on two layers of eggshells.

Then a young woman came in for her pedicure, waving her freshly manicured hands about her. Naturally, there was a cell phone in her hand. She got into her seat. It was when she opened her mouth that my shame began. Dismissive? Demeaning? Raised Volume? You bet!

She spoke to the kind Asian women attending to her and said harshly “Make it even. Like the other toes. I have had it done. I know you can do it.” The esthetician tried to explain that it was much shorter than the others and couldn’t as it was.

“It is short; someone stepped on my foot yesterday. Fix it.”

That tone of voice certainly made my shoulders rise and my body recoil. I can only imagine what the poor woman working with her could be thinking. The esthetician tried to lower her voice and diffuse the heat and the crazy in that way. She asked if the young woman meant that she wanted a “tip” put on her big toe. “Yes.” The lovely esthetician lowered her voice and explained that it would cost $10 for the nail. I feel that it is classy and more lady like to discuss transactions and money issues at a lower volume at times. It is not meant to embarrass or discomfort anyone should they be unable to afford the additional cost of the service.

The young woman raised her voice and waved the other women away, saying, “JUST DO IT.” I refer to that type of behavior as the Nike School of Management. There is no tolerance for questions, or comments. Just do It ~~ and move along. The contempt with which she spoke and the carelessness about the cost and extra effort was loud and made me embarrassed to be a human being.

She came off spoiled, arrogant and rude. Regardless of the amount of disposable income one has, you are dealing with another person who must commit to your request. Why make the person who is trying to do a satisfactory job feel even smaller about their skills and abilities?

We are all in a hurry, and want more than we ask for, and demand more than necessary at times. If you apologize, or show a kind smile, you remain human and approachable about the moods that we each share for better or worse.

But in an industry meant for relaxing, comfort, and patience, you can have everything you want if you just remember that they have their own insecurities, family concerns, and don’t “owe” you anything even if you pay the Spa.

However, with some empathy and compassion, you can have a pleasant soak, a hot pack on your neck, cucumber water at your side and a friendly woman at your feet who doesn’t want to clip off more than your hangnails.

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The search for Artificial Intelligence is abuzz on the Internet. Just Google “Google” and read about their major purchase of technology that will help to expand the use of ordinary items and reimagined integration with computers in the future.

Myriad articles online, and in magazines, discuss the impact that Artificial Intelligence — computers and drones — will have on employment and task-oriented jobs over the next ten to twenty years. However, one thing is clear; while computers can be trained by engineers, and complex logarithms, they are only representational of rational thought. Black and white mathematics, accounting formulas, and document sifting by computers can save thousands of labor hours. Legal firms are already using programs to help them sift through documents, needed in court trials, with the help of complex computations and search methods.

In truth, we are already surrounded by “artificial intelligence” in our daily lives.

Motivation by fear is an act of artificial intelligence. It is not a long term motivator; this has been proven by millions of dollars of psychological and neuro-scientific research. Yet it happens in homes and offices every day in desperation of grabbing hold of some sense of control. “Just wait until your father comes home……..” used to put a little fear into children. But children grow up and, as adults, know better. Threats don’t inspire or encourage growth. In fact, the part of the brain that registers fear actually blocks memory. So, essentially, while you are trying to scare someone into learning a skill, you are blocking his ability to do so. See, what I mean? Artificial Intelligence and false communications.

Intelligent people can lack people skills. Smart people can lack common sense. People, who do things with ulterior motives, can break down trust, create suspicion, and destroy loyalty. There are those who are incapable of thinking beyond WIIFM (What is in it for me). The decisions that they make and the behaviors that they show only serve the self.

Complex cognitive brain functions and processes include kindness, compassion, empathy, generosity, understanding, respect, and charity. Such characteristics are counter-intuitive to the basic primal need for self-preservation and a hierarchy of needs. Truly compassionate and altruistic people reach out to others’ needs before their own.

Empathy is feeling what someone else feels, stepping into their shoes, and how to help them in the most useful manner for his or her needs and situation. Creating empathy is not just strong for neural function but it defies calculation. There is no algorithm for laughter, a hug, true love, the delight of a new mother……those emotions cannot be replicated. If you are fake in your concern, or attempt to make conversation without emotion, human connectedness does not occur. Genuine kindness lights up neurons in the brain, and causes brain chemistry, to produce healing and strengthening chemicals to aid the wellness of a person.

If emotions are merely imitated for show, they lack the essence of spirit and heart. When someone asks you a question without caring about the answer, it rings hollow. No artificial emotion or string of words could replace the truth and gratitude in accepting sincere kindness. Asking “How are you?” and walking away before the answer is given…..The reply could be “Fine” as easily as it could be “I shot an elephant in my pajamas last night.” You don’t know because you did not stop long enough to listen.

Who knows how much good could be created in another’s life simply by listening for two minutes longer?

In my humble opinion, these are the truest acts of intelligence we need, into the future, for the survival, growth, and development of the human race.

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Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to join the dialogue.

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Thanks for stopping by! It means more than you know.
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