We live in a world where competition for good jobs and solid relationships is intense! Unfortunately some simple habits that once defined our society and prepared men and women to excel in those endeavors have all but disappeared.
I spotted this trend decades ago and decided to teach my children and grandchildren those habits. I hope you will be inspired to practice them and pass them on to a new generation.
Habit number #1: Learn to Look up
I have checked into hotels, boarded planes, rented cars and had sandwiches prepared in fast food restaurants. Too often the person working behind the counter never established eye contact, never acknowledged that I was there. If I had later robbed a bank they could not have identified me!
I can hear the excuse, “We see so many people.” My response would be, “No you don’t. You don’t SEE any people.” Look at me! Look at the people you serve! Look at the people who serve you!
Very few things are more inviting, reassuring and refreshing than having someone look into your eyes and acknowledge that you exist. If I were training personnel at a hotel or fast food outlet, I would hammer home this concept. Look at the customer!
Since no companies have stepped forward to ask me to train their employees, I decided to teach my children and grandchildren these classy habits that lead to success. I tell them, “When you order french fries, whenever someone speaks to you, look directly into their eyes. Pretend you will have to pick them out of a lineup. See them! Remember them.”
Making eye contact screams……….
- I am confident
- I am listening to you
- I want you to listen to me
- I acknowledge you as a human being
- I respect you and I want to be respected
Coy and shy are euphemisms we use to describe what sometimes are simply bad manners! Those tendencies should not be encouraged. Aloof and “Hollywood cool” are a total turn off. None of these will help your child find good friends, or a well-paying job. Teach your children to look up and make eye contact.
Habit #2: Learn to speak up
Today I was on an airplane where the flight attendant rushed through the memorized safety briefing so fast and carelessly I couldn’t understand a word. Had we needed that information to survive an emergency, we would have perished.
We live in a mumbling, slurring, almost incomprehensible generation of communicators. Help your children speak up and stand out.
Early in their lives we insisted that our children learn to communicate. They were required to look into the eyes of a waiter and order their food precisely. “I would like an order of chicken nuggets, a small salad with ranch dressing, and a Sprite, Please!…….. Oh, and may I please have my dressing on the side.”
Waiters always give special attention to children who communicate because they demonstrate a rare confidence and intelligence.
So do any adults who practice these habits. They sell more, have solid friendships, earn trust, and usually earn more money.
Would you buy a used car from salesman who wouldn’t look you in the eye, hid behind the manager’s leg and mumbled about the benefits of the vehicle? Neither would I.
Habit #3: Learn to Cheer Up
Smile! Your future may depend on it! What a cheap price to pay to bring light into someone’s life.
Last night the front desk clerk at my hotel looked up as I dragged my tired frame to the counter. She caught my eye, smiled broadly and spoke with authentic cheerfulness.
“Welcome to our hotel Mr. Davis, I am glad you have chosen to stay with us. How can I help you?” Wow! My room was not the most luxurious, but I will choose to stay at this hotel again.
How different from the encounter a few days ago. I dragged the same tired frame to the check in desk only to be confronted by a frowning clerk. If he had eyes, I never saw them. But I had a front row seat to the frown.
“Do you have a reservation?”
“How many nights will you be inconveniencing us?”
Still not looking up, the clerk shoved a paper across the desk, showed me where to sign and write my initials, then he pointed in the general direction of the elevators and barked,
No smile, no conversation, no eyes! I want so badly to shake him and say, “Wise up! Look up, Speak up, and Cheer up.”
A sincere smile is like strawberry jelly. It can make even burnt toast taste good.
Habit #4: Learn to Reach up
Whenever possible and whenever appropriate TOUCH people you talk to. Unfortunately our culture has sexualized touch to the point of making it taboo.
I will fight this nonsense as long as I live. A hand on the shoulder of a friend, a touch on the arm of someone who has served me well, a bear hug for a business partner or close friend, all serve as an additional acknowledgement that they exist, that someone cares, appreciates their service or their business.
I shake the hand of every military person I see. My grandsons and granddaughters are instructed to shake the hand of the person they have been introduced to.
We tell them not to simply hold their arm out with their hand hanging like a glob of limp spinach from the end of it, but to squeeze the hand being extended. Do it with both hands if necessary. Look them in the eye. Speak up. Smile! Tell them your name and say how happy you are to meet them. Ask them a question about themselves.
When you meet children with these habits, when you run into adults with these habits, when YOU are a person with these habits…… You will stand out from the norm.
You WILL succeed!