Hanshi Dave Kovar talks about the importance of bringing value to each and every one of our relationships in this personal account of his interaction with a cashier in a busy store. It's a good reminder to let others know how much they mean to us and share our appreciation of them at every opportunity we have so they know we value them.
“I Bring Value to All My Relationships” serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, respect, patience, and service. In theory, very few people that I know disagree with this concept. But I have found many times, theory and application are two different things. I want to share a story with you that I believe demonstrates this very thing.
One Saturday just before the holidays, I found myself in a super market where I was a part of an extremely long line at the checkout counter. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was doing some last minute holiday shopping. It was a big store and it was filled with lots of customers but for some reason, there was only one person working the cash register. I was about nine people back and the tension was so thick, you could almost see a gray cloud of negativity gushing out of the line and unfortunately making its way towards the undeserving cashier.
I would like to say that I was above this negativity, but the truth was I had become a part of the “Mob” mentality that was quickly brewing. I caught myself thinking, “Can’t she hurry up? Of all the nerve, I don’t have all day you know.” I tried to make some eye contact with the lady behind the counter, hoping that she would sense my indignation. Eventually, she did glance up from the register long enough for our eyes to meet.
It wasn’t long, only a fraction of a second, however it was long enough for me to completely change my perspective. With just that quick look, I saw her as a conscientious but overwhelmed person who was doing her best under stressful circumstances. She was trying to get through the day, working as hard as she could in a thankless job. This brief connection made me even more aware of the negativity being sent her way by the impatient crowd. However this time, I was no longer a participant in the drama. I’d had become a spectator. Better yet, I found myself wanting to help her, to bring her some much needed compassion, to make her smile.
Amazingly when my attitude changed, the line suddenly was moving faster. When I reached the cash register she looked up and the forced a smile, undoubtedly expecting me to give her the same energy I had a minute earlier. I smiled at her and hoped that I could find the right words. I jokingly told her that she was personally responsible for not only the long line in the store, but for the traffic outside as well. She flashed me a relieved smile. You could almost feel her tension dissolving. I then thanked her for being so patient with all of us grumpy customers and told her how I thought she was doing a great job and that the store was lucky to have her. As I was leaving the store our eyes crossed and she mouthed me a “Thank you”, and then happily turned back to the next person in line. I knew she felt better and so did I. It is amazing what just a bit of kindness can do for everyone involved.
I’d like to tell you that I always handle situations in the same thoughtful and compassionate way I did that day, but the truth is….I don’t. I wish did and I really try to. But it doesn’t always happen.
What I’ve found though is that kindness can become a habit. Once you try it, you want to do it more. Now this is one habit that is good for all of us. So won’t you join me in some random acts of kindness? But be careful because as you probably already know, it’s hard to stop!