Yesterday, Saturday January 15th, I had a Los Angeles exploration day. I got thinking about how does one be the catalyst for interaction with people who normally wouldn’t interact? We can’t get to know someone if they don’t respond to us and once they do respond to us, then we have to hold that conversation long enough for them to actually feel comfortable with us enough to share something personal and deeper than a our everyday generic conversations.
I think the key to this is basic manners. We all know them, but we don’t always practice them. Starting with the most basic, please and thank you, and moving to the heavier ones like holding a door for some one or saying bless you. It’s not a matter of religious belief, it’s a matter of manners. I also believe that there is a weight of greatness with a polite smile. A polite smile can identify so much about how a person is feeling and how a person can be lifted. Not only does the person receiving the smile get a sense of greatness and belonging in them, but the person who actually gave the smile has put something amazing into the world. I know it sounds extremely “Disney” but it does hold truth.
A prime example of this was yesterday, while I was on my day of exploration. I needed to get my hair cut, so I went to the Super Cuts near my house and walked in for a hair cut. We have all had customer experiences where it is just going through the motions but throw in a kind smile and a polite hello, and it will change dramatically. This is what happened with Sandra yesterday, my hair stylist, but she gave me the polite hello. I learned so much in our twenty-minute conversation while she cut off all of my hair.
I learned that Sandra has a two and a half-year old son, and has been with her husband for about fourteen years; Of which, they have been married for about six of them. I also got out of this that she had known him since they were seven years old. How amazing to know your soul mate for at such a young age. I then thought about who I still know from when I was seven, and then from that small list of people, they could be my soul mate.
We then got into how important her son is to her. She mentioned that he still sleeps with them and followed it by “how hard it was to get him, that he is their pride in joy”. She said it with such subtlety that normally people wouldn’t have even recognized that comment but we were definitely listening to each other. I got that her and her husband had been trying for so long, and probably had a lot of emotion into making a baby that by the time he finally arrived, they would do everything and more to protect him. I suppose that feeling is how you know you are a parent.
Not only do using basic manners help with connecting with strangers, but it helps with getting to know the people around you, who you hold close to you. I had dinner with one of my closest friends and as we were in the middle of conversation, I mis-pronounced a word and she didn’t flinch. No mockery happened, no jabs, we just continued talking about the topic and when she had an opportunity to repeat the word correctly, she did. This shows great sincerity in someone and if there were not level of comfort, I would have not been able to see that in her. I am so grateful for that conversation yesterday.
Manners people: They get you so far.