Here is a little story for you.
You are in your neighborhood department store going to buy some clothes. You go into the men’s department and would like to ask the salesperson a question about a shirt you came across. There is one person in front of you, so you are next in line.
The gentleman in front of you has two little boys and they are having the time of their lives. They are playing hide and seek in-between all the clothing racks. They are screaming, laughing, being real, real, loud. In fact they are just being kids as they would be on any playground. The only problem is that this is not a playground, but a department store, and a nice one at that.
As you wait in line, you give the father a couple of (minor) dirty looks, implying he should be a better father, and manage his kids with a little more discipline. He really doesn’t pay attention to you, and the kids are being as disruptive and obnoxious as ever. They continue to use the store as their own personal playground for the next five to seven minutes.
The father has completed his shopping and motioned to the kids that it is time to go.
You give one more look of disapproval (maybe a minor head shake) as he left the store with clothes laying on the floor that fell off the display racks, near where the kids were playing.
You go to the counter and you are about to comment to the store employee, “Can you believe that father and the way he let his kids just run amok and do anything they want?” Before you even open your mouth, the salesperson says, “Sir, I am so sorry for the gentleman and the two little boys, and thank you for your patience and your understanding.” She goes on to say, “The father was just telling me that their mother died from cancer two day’s before. She was in hospice for six days prior to that, and how it was so tough to watch his wife and their mother wither and pass away.”
The salesperson explains to you that the father goes on to say, “This is the first time in weeks that I have seen my boys actually laugh and try to have fun after such a long, trying ordeal. I do not want to take this minor enjoyment away from them. Here is my Visa card,” which he gave to the salesperson, “and if there is any damage to the displays or the clothes, just charge it to my account. You do not have to even call me. I just want my boys to continue to laugh and enjoy themselves after such a tough time recently.”
Feel bad now?
I don’t know about you, but so many times I just jump to conclusions and am not aware of the other side of the story. I presume we are all guilty of this at times. We think that the world is revolving around us, and we don’t step back a little to see how it is affecting other people, or what they might be going through.
It seems that people are getting a bit more self indulged over the last few decades, and we care more about ourselves than our fellow person. Sometimes, I realize that I need to step back from time to time and reassess not just what I desire, but to be more tolerant of other people and their struggles with everyday life.
I guess next time you see those little rascals playing in the store and making a mess, you might think twice about what you are feeling and try to see what the situation really is.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.