This morning I was thinking about how we go about our day and encounter all kinds of people in many different scenarios and situations. Most people we run into are friendly and kind, yet there times we encounter those that don’t create the most pleasant of experiences. This happens a lot in service industries, on customer service calls and as we are dealing with people in the public. While there is no excuse for being down right rude, when these situations do occur. I try to stop and consider that the person may be going through something in their day that has totally thrown them off and make an attempt to turn their day around. Linda and I saw this all the time when we were delivering cards to senior communities.
One memory that stands out more than others was when Linda and I were visiting a senior community here in Florida. The Activities Director was walking us around the rooms to deliver cards when she took Linda into the room of a gentleman that was sitting on his sofa. Linda approached the man and said “Hi sir, how are you doing today?” The man looked Linda straight in the eyes and yelled at her, “how do you think I’m doing you A***, I’m dying”. As you can guess the immediate thought was to run from the room as quickly as possible. But after wishing him a good day, we stood outside and attempted to compose ourselves and evaluate what had just happened.
We quickly came to the realization that we had no idea what that man was going through. Perhaps he truly was dying and in his attempt to cope with what was the inevitable, his only release was to take it out on us to alleviate some of the internal fear that he was experiencing. We happened to be the outlet for the release at that moment and we knew that it had nothing to do with us.
Like this man who was enduring his own internal trauma, we never really know what has happened in anyone’s day when we encounter strangers. Their mood at the moment may have been caused by some catastrophic event that happened earlier in the day. It may have been because multiple customers before us have berated them for things they had no control over. It could be because they are having family difficulties from which they can’t escape. We have all been there and that makes it even more important to not respond in kind, but attempt to alter the encounter to attempt to leave it on a more positive note.
If we try and find the best in people, even if they are portraying the worst at the moment, we are the ones that sometimes have the ability to turn that persons day around. Engaging and participating in their mire, only adds to the risk that our day may be ruined as well.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.
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