I was taught early in my career – and my evolution as a person – that to think something nice about a person and to not share this with them is usually a wasted opportunity. Not always – there are certain considerations that will say “Leave it out” and I always honor that voice in the workplace, even if I don’t know why it is speaking to me.
More recently I have been influenced by a customer service video called Validation – the Parking Attendant, a charming fantasy in which people bring their parking tickets to a guy in a little kiosk who, along with validating their parking ticket, validates them. One after the next after the next, in such minimal encounters that he has no chance to pick on something “meaningful” about them. (Watch the first five minutes, even if you don’t do customer service for a living! It’s about how to be a better person. You may get hooked and watch the whole 16 minutes, which is well worth it.)
When I stand in front of a customer, I much of the time am asking myself “What shall I affirm about this person?” If they are buying a lot of groceries and we get some chance to talk with each other – and especially if there is no long line with its pressure to push people through – there is more chance to come up with something meaty. I especially love to affirm:
- Their kids and/or their parenting.
- “What smart (or interesting) kids!”
- “What a wonderful parent you are! I so much admired the patient way you handled your little one’s meltdown.”
- This mother had a maybe six-year old who was being very restless and she was obviously very irritated with him. I just followed my intuition when I said
- “This little one is very special, very smart, very thoughtful.”
- “Yeah, well right now he is being very disobedient and I’ve had about enough of it.”
- (Totally surrendering to Spirit here, as I described something on her part I had not really seen), “I’m sure he can be very difficult at times, but you are doing some really great things with him.”
- This stopped her in her tracks, her eyes got really big and she asked “You think so?” There were tears in her eyes.
- “Yes, I’m sure of it.” I didn’t know why I said it, but I trusted it.
I also really like to validate people’s sense of humor – it is more and more clear to me how linked this is to their intelligence, and I think on some level they know that I am also telling them they are smart. I especially love doing this with couples: when I tell them they are funny together, it’s like I am telling them they are good together. In our brief encounter together, I may actually have been the one to first begin the merriment – and they then joined in – but there’s no need to focus on me.
Why include this topic of affirming the customer in this blog, rather than just the grocery store blog, where it is obviously relevant?
- Because this blog is about making the world a more peaceful place.
- Because it is about relating to each other non-violently.
- Because it is about love – especially about learning to be a more loving person.