I was speaking with a customer service representative, and I asked some questions about one of her company’s products. She answered all my questions except one, to which she didn’t know the answer, and then apologized for not being able to be helpful.
I told her that I saw it differently. I explained that she had answered the questions she knew, and she had offered to transfer me to a supervisor for what she didn’t know. She was very helpful–she did the best she could.
The representative told me that my response made her day. When I asked her why, she said that I had been patient with her and my words were kind, and that these are not common qualities nowadays.
I had a similar experience with another phone call I made some time ago. It was to an author whose book I read and enjoyed, and which contained some typos and errors. After telling the author how much I enjoyed the book, I inquired if another edition was being planned. I asked this because the way of compassion is not to point out errors unless there is a beneficial purpose to it.
When he said that another edition was indeed being planned, I asked if he wanted me to share with him what I had noticed. (This is the second skill of the Art of Giving Advice: Ask Permission or Have an Invitation. Don’t give advice that you are not sure is desired.) Afterwards, he thanked me for my observations, and told me how rare it is these days for somebody to take the time to make such a call.
It struck me how easy it is to make a difference in people’s lives. Life is busy, and we are often focused on our affairs. But simple acts of kindness, gentle words, patience, and expressions of gratitude are easy to do. And the opportunities are all around us–with family, with friends and at work.
Take an opportunity today to act with kindness, and see the difference it makes, both for others and for yourself.