Tag Archives: leadership

The Power of Politeness

“No thank you” or “No, thank you”? Have you heard the one about the panda who walks into a cafe with a gun, orders a sandwich, fires the gun, and leaves? Ask British author, Lynn Truss. Her 2003 bestseller “Eats, shoots and leaves” bemoans the lost art of punctuation.

But what might be a case of “syntactic ambiguity” – when a reader/listener can reasonably interpret one sentence as having more than one possible structure – is actually me bemoaning the lost art of politeness.

On certain, not all, occasions lately, what’s been heard is silence, i.e. no thank you’s. Does the receiver of an act of kindness assume the giver has somehow understood “thank you” through telepathy? Or perhaps such an acknowledgement is passé or is rejected because it’s too de rigueur?

Look, I’m not from the #smartgen nor the #nextgen but from the #othergen. And I’m old school so that my favourite pastime is writing and sending notes of thanks, yes, paper and yes, snail mail. I purchase “thank you” cards so often that my friends have started gifting them to me and you can guess who receives the first one out of the pack.

Our lives are fast and fleeting. Has “thank you” disappeared along with “please, may I, pardon me”? Please say it isn’t so. The foundation of relationships is built on gratitude.  When you experience loss in life and need help,  what will ground you is gratitude. Wharton Professor Adam Grant says it best in his 2013 best-selling book, “Give and Take” and his 2016 TED talk , He describes how people are givers, takers, and matchers and how most effective leaders are givers.

 

When someone gives, offers, surrenders, volunteers, sacrifices their time to help you, will you remember to say those famous almost-forgotten last yet powerful words, “THANK YOU”?  Because if you don’t, you might not get another chance to say these words again. Ever.

The Power of Perspective – All the light we can see

The Power of Perspective

Scrolling my Twitter feed, I stumbled upon Daniel Pink’s , an American author of bestselling books about business, work, and behavior, 2016 convocation address at Georgetown University on the importance of perspective-taking.

He asked the grads to do a quick social experiment with three simple instructions. Try it!

1) Identify your dominant hand.

2) With your dominant hand, snap your fingers 5 times.

3) With the forefinger of your dominant hand, draw for me a capital “E” on your forehead.

Take note, did you draw your “E” facing you inwardly  or “E” facing outwardly? Pink: “If you drew the “E”  facing you i.e. inwardly, it means you are self-oriented and take your own perspective. If you drew  “E” facing outwardly , it means you take someone else’s perspective.”

As time goes on, you will draw the “E” differently, depending on context. As you grow and acquire power and success, you might lose your ability to see the world through another’s eyes. “Use your power but sharpen your perspective.” –Daniel H. Pink

Saul Bellow, a Canadian author and Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner quoted Proust as he talked about life’s “true impressions.” “With increasing frequency, I dismiss as merely respectable opinions I have long held – or thought I held – and try to discern what I have really lived by and what others live by.” –Saul Bellow

Thirty years ago I was “gifted” this rare perspective. I haven’t used it very often…not until this month.  This “gift” came from being hospitalized for an extended period with no vision and no mobility. So when I peered into my best friend’s (30 years) one open eye last week, I suddenly realized that in order to connect with her, I had to take her perspective. I had to communicate in such a way so that if she was inside there, she could use her facial muscles to answer.  Being careful not to overtire her, we “conversed” as she responded neurologically well – acknowledging accurately and quickly. She’s smart, strong, and resilient. We pray.

“Valuing the differences between people is the essence of synergy … And the key is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”–Stephen R. Covey

Did you draw  the Capital E facing inwardly or facing outwardly? Know your power of perspective and use it aptly, wisely, and compassionately.