The attitude you send is the attitude you get back.
A while ago, I was facilitating a People Management program with a group of managers from a company with PVC products specifics. The course took place in a rustic hotel, with a few rooms, in a wonderful landscape mountain area. During break time, I was listening the aggressive and critical telephone conversations between managers and their subordinates. For example: If, by the end of the program, the truck with X command does not come out the gate, tomorrow you had better present your resignation/ I hired you, I can just as easily fire you! / You do what I say or you won’t have anything to do with this company.
During the first dinner, just one out of 5 we were going to spend together, I noted the same critical attitude: The soup is too hot/ the bread is not fresh/ those are hobbits’ servings/ your chef is too slow/ my order is getting to long to be served. Those were sentence with which they assaulted the one assigned to serve at our table. Those statements were untrue and we were quite unsatisfied to find out that those grievances kept the waiter as far as possible from our group.
The next day, the same waiter, the same group, the same attitude. As the bread served was finished, a colleague requested:
-Waiter, bring us some bread!
-Immediately, said the waiter. But he brought us the bread after 15 minutes.
Then, I decided to change the group’s attitude by example – I addressed the waiter by his name (he wore a name badge):
-Alex, the chef cooked an excellent soup; it tasted so good it reminded me of the one my grandma used to make. Please, send him my compliments.
Alex discards a few plates from our table and with both hands loaded, rushes through the slightly swinging kitchen.
“Congratulations!! They liked the soup!”, we could Alex scream from the kitchen’s doorway.
After a short moment, the chef’s head appeared above the kitchen’s doors, scrutinizing the dining room with interest, curious to identify the one who appreciated his food.
Andreea, one of the students, tells me:
-This is a constructive feedback, following the model taught to us during the training and it really had an effect on the chef.
-What stops you to use it, too? I asked her.
Following the example, she praised the chef’s steak and cake to Alex. One after another, the other students realised that they can increase Alex’s reaction speed to their request by giving positive feedback and adapted accordingly. Alex left the rest of the customers in the restaurant to his colleague and in an overflowing enthusiasm he gives our group his full attention: Did you enjoy the cake? / How was the lemonade? / Can I get you some more water? / What else do I serve you with?
During dinner, given the fact that I am a frequent consumer of smoked bacon with red onions, I asked the waiter if I can have any, given the fact is not a product on the menu. Alex told me that he’ll ask the cook, but he cannot guarantee it. Alex went to the kitchen and, after a few minutes, came back with a tray full of plates of what I asked for, for the entire group – from the chef.
Therefore, we invite the chef in the dining room to thank him. When he comes close to us, we greet him with a round of applause.
Consequently, during lunch next day, he was waiting for us in a white robe and a chef’s hat, asking us that we don’t order yet, to trust him to cook us something special.
I can say we had a wonderful meal, chicken with steamed vegetables like we’d rarely eaten until then.
All of this happened just by changing our approach. I changed the critical atmosphere into an appreciative, encouraging one.
Things didn’t stop here. The students befriended the owner of the hotel by showing appreciation towards his involvement in the architecture of the hotel and the way he furnished it. As a result, we benefited from the privilege of being invited for a drink and a chat on the last floor, which was closed to tourists, we heard incredible stories about the construction of this wonderful place and we all received a significant discount for any future accommodation.
At the end of the five days, I was the most pleased about the phone call from the GM of the company which jokingly asked: “Alright, you gave them a lecture, but what did you feed them?”. When I expressed my confusion, I found out that the subordinates of the thirteen managers from my course noticed a big change in their phone conversations. The authoritative and critical talk had changed into an assertive and appreciative one.
Moral of the story
The moral of the story is that when you work with people, they’ll always work in their best interest, not yours. Those motives are emotional in nature, and they appear based on how you make them feel.
You can shove them, criticize them, threaten them, insult them and they won’t move an inch. People will do almost anything for you if you treat them with respect, if you make them feel like their feelings matter, too. One of the biggest needs of humans is to feel appreciated and important.
If you are a critical and negative person, life will treat you as such. On the other hand, if you have an appreciative and optimistic perspective, the joy you give others will return tenfold.
Did you like this article? We talk about efficient feedback, identifying needs, adequate behaviors during our course of “Interdepartmental Communication and Cooperation”.