A Caring Challenge

Waitress

Waiting tables is a tough job, try adding a smile. – Photo by Stephen Dyrgas

It’s simple, look people in the eye and give a s#it. Really.

How often do you just go through habitual niceties with store clerks or waiters? They ask “how are you today?” you reply, “Fine thank you,” without making eye contact and they take your order. No thought or caring, simply an exchange of rote statements.

I challenge you to show people you care. Look servers and clerks in straight in the eyes and ask genuinely how their day is going and try to coax a smile. Maybe add a question such as, “is your shift nearly over or just starting?” Most of the time they will be visibly pleased that someone actually wanted to know about them. Watch as they smile and light up.

Don’t be surprised if they tell you honestly that they are having a tough day. After all, you may be the only person who has bothered to genuinely inquire, so it may help them to have an ear, even if just for a few minutes. In that instant, you are making a difference. Why bother? I do it because it makes me feel good to know that I’ve added kindness to someone’s day. I’m pretty sure I get as much from the moment than they do. A small act of caring goes a long way.

Even over the phone you can brighten a customer service rep’s day. They are so used to crabby callers, it won’t take much.

Here are a few more ways you can open a conversation:

Pay a compliment – Do they have a pretty piece of jewelry, a nice scarf, perfect hair color, cute nails etc. that you could comment on? Perhaps they were especially efficient.

Ask about their job – Just a few days ago I asked a supermarket cashier if she ever looked at customer’s cart and wondered about their health (I sure do). She laughed and admitted she did, especially when they had a basket full of sugary treats and hyper kids.

Ask if they plans for…. – It could be the weekend, a holiday or special event like the recent Super Bowl. I usually to avoid asking about Valentine’s Day because it’s not always a happy day for singles.

Now I challenge you. Go out and try this happiness experiment 5-6 times and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below. How did it make you feel? Remember, the key is to really care, it shows in your eyes and they will feel it. Yes, you may encounter a Scrooge, but you’ll know you were present and caring.

Enjoy the warmth of a stranger’s smile. Peace.

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Comments

  1. says

    I like this post. It hits on something that bugs me about how people interact … they don’t really pay attention to each other. They make polite noises, but they’re more reflexive than genuine. And your ideas for ramping up the sincerity are all very good.

    You know what’s really fun? When one of these throwaway interactions gets a big group of people talking and laughing.

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