Gratitude Is Easy

Back to work.  The day after Labor Day is always a bit deflating.  The end of summer is near which means bulky coats, boots and dark mornings and evenings are looming.  The end of last week also involved a rather unpleasant client meeting.  Unpleasant as in awkward silences and uncomfortable explanations about a deliverable.  As I started my drive to the same client location this morning, I was cringing a bit.  I am the face to the client so they look to me for answers and explanations and to listen to their pain points. When I am on the spot, honesty is my only route.  I learned early in my years in Corporate America to avoid taking things personally and to be composed no matter how the client is addressing me.  After an unpleasant meeting I always feel weird going back to the client.

As I was waiting in the lobby I was checking Instagram and Twitter, as I always do when I am just waiting.  It is always interesting to see what words of wisdom others are posting.  One person posted a picture of her journal and indicated she writes the things for which she is grateful as a daily practice.  Another posted that she makes note of the good things that happen to her each day before she goes to bed. And another posted her advice to thank yourself when something goes well. After last week, I decided to try to remember the good things at the conclusion of my all day client visit.

Fast forward to 11am when I sat down with one my key client contacts.  She has a daughter my age so it is hard to get anything past her.  She uses mother’s intuition with me so it is futile to think anything will go unnoticed. She started by saying, “I wanted to talk to you about last week’s meeting and how you conducted yourself.”  I cringed in my chair as I waited to hear what was next as I really had no idea how I was perceived by the client after a rigmarole of a conference call.  She said, “Some of the people on the phone were being unreasonable.  You were poised and you listened and your responses were very thoughtful and reflective of the fact that you were listening to what was said.  We appreciated that you were willing volunteered to go to the executive meeting to explain the circumstances.  You did an excellent job given the awkward circumstances and awkward silences.”  WHEW!  I was so relieved and so grateful to receive a compliment from a customer.  I pride myself in advocating for my clients and giving them honest answers and understanding in my interactions.  Most often, when working as a service provider, compliments are few and far between as clients often speak up when displeased.  My client also said, “You either enjoy the abuse (jokingly) or you have learned to take nothing personally.”  To which I replied (in short), “It is business, nothing is personal here and I learned that a lesson many years ago.”  WHEW!  It turned my day around to hear my client validate that I did the right thing and approached business concerns in the right way.  I am fairly confident in my ability, however, hearing how someone perceives me is helpful and enlightening.  I decided to chalk that up to a good thing that happened to me today.

My takeaway is to show gratitude.  It is easy and often effortless.  Always thank the people who do good work.  I tend to thank people in any service capacity because I have had several different jobs in my life.  It is very easy to show gratitude and appreciation when someone works behind a counter or over the telephone.  I find many people forget to do this .  I send notes to senior management when some goes above and beyond.  I have been known to pull over on the side of the road to thank utility workers.  Every day for the last 4 the staff at Starbucks has gotten my drink wrong.  I suspect a lot of people would get annoyed,  however, I just asked them to correct it and thanked the barista for doing so.  I see how hard the baristas work during a rush and no one is intentionally giving me the wrong coffee concoction.  Say thank you to the people who provide service as they deserve to be acknowledged and they deserve to know their work is appreciated.  If you are a regular, introduce yourself and learn the names of the people who prepare your coffee or wait on your table or do your pedicure.  I find it it usually leads to better service and a more positive experience for all parties involved.

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