I was flying home from a work trip and the guy next to me ordered a couple drinks. I almost dug out my phone to give him drink coupon – had it been on paper I would have, but I just never could do it quickly and then to explain to the flight attendant and not make it a whole “thing” about me “buying him a drink” . . . you know, I just wasn’t going to use it. I was feeling a little guilty that I didn’t do it, but then . . . . as we were waiting to get off the plane, he got a phone call.
Not that I was eavesdropping, but since he was a half a foot away it was hard not to hear. .. Clearly he was a technician who worked on some big construction equipment – I think cranes. Sounded like there may have been some miscommunication about priorities (which is annoying – I will give him that). He hung up and started commenting – to me, to the world in general – about how awful sales people are... . How they don’t know anything, but they make all the money . . . etc. etc. etc.
Sooooooooo being an account executive (aka sales person), I will admit that my immediate thought was “now I feel a LOT better about not giving him that drink coupon” – ha!
I was thinking – "HEY! You have no idea what it’s like. . . . on my end. . . from my side!" As I was walking through the terminal, I started thinking from another point of view . . . there’s a reason he feels this way – a way he’s been treated that makes him say “this is why I drink” while shaking his head. Someone had made him feel "less". (about now I'm feeling bad again for not giving him that drink coupon). Somebody he works with forgot what Maya Angelou reminds us when she said this:
I kept thinking about it on the way home from the airport. While I do hope that others would try to have some understanding about the trade offs involved in my role: being away from my family . . . the pressure, they way that some (and only some) people on the "other side of the desk" look at/talk to a person in sales, etc.
Even more, I truly hope that I don’t make anyone feel unappreciated or underappreciated. I could never do what I do without help – in work or life-outside-work. I also very much hope that the team with whom I work doesn’t feel the way about me that this man felt about his sales team.
Albert Einstein famously wrote:
This idea that everyone has value – that every position in a company has value – is something my parents believed and worked to instill in us.
My dad worked at a trucking company for most of my childhood. I worked there with him through most summers of high school and even college (yep, I helped in the parts department, in HR, in dispatch and more) I saw it in him – he treated everyone with respect - his co-workers in the office, their mechanics , their drivers – and his vendors (he helped purchase trucks, engines, branded premiums/gifts and more)
He wasn’t always happy there – he got annoyed with people – even angry – but I feel that he always found a way to solve problems with respect.
My mom lives it too. In her work life, she was a medical transcriptionist when I was little and worked her way into a position running an outpatient surgery center – go Mom! She got there with hard work, but also because of the way that she treated others.
Their co-workers and employees loved them for it!
Finding value in people and what they do should always be applied outside of work. My parents taught us this by example. For instance, when my dad had major back surgery and spent some major time in the hospital . . . they brought in treats for the nurses and aides and therapists of all kinds. They got a candy bowl and kept it stocked for anyone coming in and out of his room. Just a small gesture, but it showed their appreciation. (and let’s be honest, Dad wasn’t always the best patient – there are some stories for another day! LOL!)
It is my intention to bring this value with me at work and in life.
I’m sure I won’t always succeed, but I think if we keep this in mind. If we try. We can make days more pleasant all-around. You know that whole Golden Rule and all that.
Let’s look for the good in others!
Let’s do this too: “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to.”, and remember “Respect is earned, not given” Hussein Nishah.
Have you ever been made to feel "less"? Did it change the way you treat people in all walks of life now?