Who do you remember?

This piece goes out to all the people who touch our lives in one-way or another, whether we realize it or not.  How many times do you stop and think about the way someone treated you or even the way you’ve treated someone?

We all have people we like to talk to and look forward to hearing from, but what about the people we don’t want to talk to? Are you kind to them anyway? Are you polite? Are you mean? Do you run away when you see them coming? Do you realize what you do or what you say at the moment of interaction can set the tone for the entire conversation?

Do you ever consider the way someone is treating you might be due to something you are doing, what you are saying or just the way you are saying it?  How do we know if we are causing a reaction or if the person we are interacting with is just having a bad day?

In today’s society, each and every person we talk to and everything we say and do often fall under an invisible microscope. It can be difficult to know the right thing to say or the right time to say it.  Often, I think this leads people to just remain quiet and still.

Don’t do this. Never be afraid to say what you are thinking. Never be afraid to reach out and show someone you care.  I truly believe people can say anything.  What gets us in trouble more often than not is that we often forget one basic principal: it is not what you say, but how you say it!

I will extend this to also include; it is not what you do, but how you do it!

Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you interact with someone:.

  1. Smile and speak clearly when meeting someone and if you are meeting this person for the first time be sure to include your name.
  2. Even if you are on the phone, remember to smile before saying hello.  The act of smiling will lighten the tone of your voice and help you to focus on the call you are about to have rather than what you were doing just five seconds prior to the interaction.
  3. Remember to treat others how you would want to be treated yourself. When engaging with others have respect and be aware of the topics you choose.
  4. Stay away from controversial topics and assume a certain amount of privacy for the person you are speaking with.  Do not ask questions that will make the person feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to answer.
  5. Always keep in mind the person you are speaking to today, could someday have an impact on your life. It is better to leave that person with dignity than to burn a bridge hoping you never have to cross in the future. This principal also applies to leaving your present employer.

In 2004, I made the decision to leave IBM so that I could try my hand at consulting. I remember like it was yesterday my exit interview with IBM. The exit interview manager, someone I deeply respected at the time and still respect to this day, told me that I was leaving on good terms.

I thanked the manager and emphasized how important those words were to hear.  I reminded the manager that I was going to be a consultant which was something I had always wanted to do, but that if I felt it was not right for me I would want to be able to come back.

Here I was in a conversation trying to reserve a place to come back should I ever need it.  I could have left IBM other ways but chose to take the high road.  Today I can honestly say I am glad I did take the high road that day.  Though I have never gone back to IBM as an employee, IBM has been there by my side at every account I have been on since and I am grateful for that.

This article is dedicated to three men who impacted my life: Eddie, Ted and Gus.

Eddie worked for Bernardi Honda Back around 1992 to 1993 era. Ted worked for Gaston Andrey Saab, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari around 1994. Both men were wiser in life and working part-time as runners for the dealership.  We shared many conversations and they taught me many things back then. Gaston “Gus” Andrey owned the car dealership I worked at. This past Saturday I was sitting in my living room and thought to myself ‘I wonder how the Andrey’s are doing.’ I got on the Internet only to learn of Mr. Andrey’s passing Oct. 27, 2012.  Isn’t it ironic that on Oct. 26, 2013 I think to look them up to see how they are doing?  Exactly 1 day off from 1 year to the day of his passing.

R.I.P. Mr. Andrey. My condolences to the Andrey family.

In closing, be kind to the people you meet. After all, they just might be the people who teach you life’s best lessons.

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