Let’s face it; as residents of this earth, no matter who we are, what we do, or who we know, there are times when we have to deal with those difficult people who might — for whatever reason — choose to stand in the way of our pursuit of happiness. It might be something big, such as getting the proper attention for a loved one in a hospital.
Then again, it could be something simply annoying such as having to deal with a local government bureaucrat who wants you to “jump through hoops” for the permit allowing you to build an addition to your home. Or, it could be your prospect’s “gate-keeper” doing his or her best to keep you from speaking to their boss.
Regardless, it’s incumbent upon us to know when this is the case, and to always remember that we have the choice (yep, we really do) as to how we are going to communicate with another person.
Which reminds me of a story: It seems a formal and very fancy black-tie affair was being held at a major hotel which included a number of dignitaries. One of them, a United States Senator noticed that at his table-setting there was only a single pat of butter next to his roll.
Dismissively, and with a wag of his index finger, he summoned the waiter. “Young man, bring me another pat of butter.”
A bit taken aback but having to feign politeness, the waiter replied, “I’m sorry sir, it’s only one pat of butter per setting.”
Annoyed, the important guest said, “I would like another one anyway; bring me another pat of butter.”
“I’m sorry” countered the waiter, “We’re a bit short tonight; it’s just one pat of butter per setting.”
Now totally put off and offended, the VIP demanded, “Young man, do you know who I am? I happen to be the senior senator from the state of New Jersey.”
To which, the waiter replied, “And, do you know who I am? I’m the guy who controls the butter.” 🙂
Now, really, I have no idea if that ever actually happened, and every time I’ve ever heard the story the Senator is from a different state and sometimes has an entirely different vocation.
However, the lesson is clear: Speaking respectfully is not only the right way to communicate with others; it is often the difference between getting what you want, need or desire … or creating an enemy that can make your life (if even just a tiny part of it) unnecessarily difficult.