Something about him caught my attention.
Maybe it was because I was in a happy mood, and I can be acutely aware of others who aren’t. After being escorted to our table by the hostess, we were greeted by a young man. His interaction with me and my friend, who I was meeting for lunch, was lackluster at best. No eye contact, and a big fat zero in the banter department. It seemed he was there to do his job. Distracted. The kind of waiter who made sure we got our stuff and nothing more. His demeanor gave no inkling of who he was; a robot could’ve served us and the interaction would’ve been the same.
Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s wrong with that?” This waiter’s robotics might be fine for some people, but I don’t see people as machines, and this lack of connection was likely what was bothering me. Everyone matters, everyone whose job it is to make my life easier, be they a bank teller or a crossing guard or coffee barista. I wanted him to know that, even if he wasn’t having a good day, that he was being seen. At the very least, by me. I tested him a bit, pausing, thanking him while looking him straight in the eye after he brought us our water, our plates and silverware, and then our food. In return, I received a blank stare and a quick exit.
There was no problem here, let me be clear. I was enjoying my time with my friend. I also wanted the joy to spread, to see if I could help to generate smiles or get people to know they matter. But this was not happening, and so I upped the acknowledgement ante.
After my friend and I parted ways, I spotted our server at the register and beelined toward him. “Excuse me,” I said. “I want to thank you. I just had a great lunch with my friend, and it was great because you tended to us.” And I meant every word. And because I meant it, his face lit up as if a 1,000 watt bulb had flipped on. “Thank you”, he said. We parted and I added “Have a great day!”!
I’m not telling you this to pat myself on the back. I’m telling you because people are starving for acknowledgement. To be seen. To know that they matter. One of the many, many things I’ve learned and embodied in the past year from my teacher and mentor, Bob Duggan, it’s that acknowledgement is a powerful healing force. Do you get enough? Do you give enough? How does it feel to both give AND receive acknowledgement?
My challenge to you this moment is to acknowledge someone. Now. Authentically. Right now. Send an email, a text, or make a phone call to the person in your home or office. Now. Coming from the heart, acknowledgement can not only bring peace and good feelings within the receiver, but giving away the gift of acknowledgement is good medicine for you, too. Don’t believe me? I dare you to do it right now, and send me an email on how great you feel.
P.S. I’m teaching a class on acknowledgement, along with other topics this month. Join me and others for the Navigating Upset class February 14, 12:30-2:30 pm at my office. Information is here. Show your love by learning how to design the days of your life and no longer be reactive to life. It will be more memorable than a box of chocolates or flower arrangement.