I was out shopping in the supermarket very early yesterday morning when an older lady came by the biscuit aisle where I happened to be gazing into space. You know the feeling … the ‘what biscuits will I buy‘ feeling? Trying to be healthy but needing some little treat here and there.
The lady said to me (as if she knew my thoughts), “Look at these Digestive biscuits, they are not as sweet as other biscuits and they are on special.” This little comment led to a conversation that went on for ten minutes … and yes, I did buy the Digestive biscuits into the bargain!
By the bye, I think the supermarket should hire this lady who turned out to be 75 years old, but I digress. By the time we said our goodbyes, I knew how annoying her husband was when he wouldn’t wear his hearing aid, what her daughters did for a living and how she was going off to the knitting group at the library. She missed those working daughters very much indeed!
Later, when I reflected on this conversation, I thought I should have invited the lady to have a coffee with me as she seemed eager for company, but I was in a hurry so I passed it off. She was such a lovely woman and I was aware of how much older woman (stuck at home with husbands who won’t or can’t talk because they like the silence) like to chat.
I was also sorry I never asked her for her name. You see, woman like to be noticed … to be seen and acknowledged. Then today as I was reading my Facebook, I came across a post about the ‘I SEE YOU’ Experiment. Immediately I thought about the lady I met in the supermarket who wanted to be SEEN.
The experiment is about acknowledging people in some way who you come across and I love the idea of it. Katherine Wakefield, the author of the piece, told this story:
“I am starting a social experiment. Me, a stranger-danger introvert; yes, me. It happened organically today and went well. As I was checking out at the grocery store, I felt warmth and happiness from the checkout girl. I looked at her nametag and felt compelled to call her by name and say thank you. I repeated her name over and over in my head as I swiped my card to pay. Our eyes did not meet when she handed me the receipt, but I still said, “Thank you, Maggie.”
I could tell a shy and embarrassed smile crossed her face as she turned to the next customer. Yet, that smile was there because I “saw” her, called her by name and acknowledged her personally.” www.thepowerofintroverts.com/i-see-you-experiment
It also occurred to me that I often call the check-out operator by name as I leave and thank her. And yes, they never fail to smile and look happy about it. I began to wonder if in the same way, I had made the old lady’s day that I was talking to in the supermarket. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day does it?
I have also been known to acknowledge check-out operators or the girls (and it’s usually girls) serving in the Deli section, that are obviously unhappy … even downright rude. I say things like, “You’re obviously not having a good day, is there something wrong?” They are so shocked that you have picked this up, that they immediately change their attitude.
Once the girl told me that she’d had enough of the company she was working for. Other times, they just become sweeter, but it never fails to get a result. Try it sometime for it feels great. Also, you don’t come away feeling sour about the people working there … who you then whinge about and carry the negativity on to others.
Katherine Wakefield ended her piece by saying:
“As I drove home, I pondered my experience, thinking, “I bet I could really brighten someone’s day, catch them off-guard when they are tired and cranky.” You know, those employees that are desperate to go home, just having a bad day. I wonder what would happen, even in the face of their tiredness, if someone would only acknowledge them, see them and call them by name. Could the appreciation and compassion that comes from personalizing the experience help them get through their shift, day or even life?
The answer is YES — A resounding YES!
Perform the experiment to see for yourself. The next time you are in a store checkout line and your salesclerk appears to be having a humdrum day do this:
1. Ask for their name (or learn it from their name tag).
2. With a smile on your face, look the person in the eyes.
3. Finally, say: “Thank you [name] for helping me today (or whatever interaction you had).”
That’s it — That’s all you have to do to brighten person’s day. Simply let them know you see them, and they will instantly remember that they are appreciated, and they are loved!
And with that good advice dear friends, I will leave you to ponder what you will do. And the funny thing is, it will brighten YOUR day as well!