We had just encountered a particularly nasty customer–one who had challenged our integrity and berated our product. These situations so rarely happened, but it sure sucked the wind out of our sails that morning. Our little family kind of huddled up under our booth’s awning in shock, wondering what in the world just happened; the kids had seldom experienced that kind of ire from anyone–let alone someone who was talking about a tomato.
As soon as we got a bit of a break in traffic flow, I reminded the kids how many amazing customers we have. I also reminded them of how a dog sometimes feels cornered even when all a person wants to do is pet them. I suggested that maybe that woman had felt cornered by things in her life and that she snapped at our hand just because it was there. We talked a little bit about what makes people feel cornered and what makes people feel safe.
We had an idea!
We would intentionally use our words to spread light and life for the rest of the morning. We each had our own ideas of what that looked like, but we all accepted the mission. It was a little uncomfortable for some of us at first, but it got easier as we went along.
As a group of folks from the assisted living facility slowly worked its way to our booth, my son noticed a small, white-haired woman slumped over in a wheelchair. This precious woman’s head was not far from her lap, but she was doing her best to peruse the items for sale at the various booths. I could see him watching her for quite a while.
“That would be really hard, Mom.”
“Yes, it would. It looks like she’s making the best of it, though. She’s out and about on a beautiful day, and she’s all spruced up in that pretty pink blouse. It looks like she’s having a nice morning,” I replied.
She eventually made her way to our table, and my son walked around to where she sat.
“I like your pretty pink shirt,” he said loudly.
Not loudly enough.
“I like your pretty pink shirt,” he tried again.
The woman kind of turned her head so that she could get a good look at the bearer of the voice. She studied him for a good four seconds, during which time my son was starting to fidget. All of a sudden, her face broke into a radiant smile, and she replied, “Well, thank you!”
They chatted a bit back and forth, and then her party made their way through the rest of the market. Every so often, her eyes would search for her new friend. When she found him, she’d give another winning smile and a little wave of her hand. It was a beautiful thing.
Today’s Challenge: Go out of your way to give at least five sincere compliments.