The Value of a Smile

When I was about twelve years old, I used to hang out at a bowling alley with about ten of the kids from my neighborhood. We played pinball and Space Invaders, which was the only stand alone video game in existence at that time (other than pong). We fed our quarters into those machines every afternoon and my friends would always make fun of me because I said “please” and “thank you” to the lady behind the counter when she made change for us.

That went on for two to three months, during which time my friends grew increasingly rowdy and rude. After two or three days of warning, the lady behind the counter shouted, “That’s it! You are all banned from her


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6 Responses to The Value of a Smile

  1. mimipaula1 says:

    Hard work and good manners will take you places that plenty of money and good looks cannot!

  2. Ann says:

    Robert Heinlein has a line in one of his books (“Friday” I think) that goes something along the line of “the first sign of the downfall of a civilization is when people stop using the common courtesies — they grease the wheels of human interaction.” That always stuck with me, even if (particularly when I was in corporate!) I didn’t always practise it!

    A smile and “please” and “thank you”, etc. cost nothing and can really lighten another person’s day, which in turn lightens yours.

    When I was in my 20’s, I had a friend who was only 5 feet tall. I thought she was a terrible flirt, but she was always polite and smiling even in the worst situations. Watching her, I realized two things. First, that it was a defense mechanism — no one could continue to pick on her or be mean to her in the face of her constant “niceness” and she was so tiny that she needed that! Second, she could get her way when others failed. Interesting to watch and absorb even if I didn’t take the lesson to heart back then.

    I was working full-time in an accounting department when I went back to school to gain the courses and credits to qualify to sit for the cpa exam. I used to watch the attitudes of some of the auditors who came through and some of them were unbelievably arrogant — demanding that you drop everything and do what they want, not even considering what that would do to your workday. When I got into public accounting, my approach was a bit different. I’d ask people when they thought they could get it to me and then negotiate with them, explaining my time constraints and acknowledging theirs. The people I worked with would bend over backwards to get me what I needed and, frequently, even more than I needed. LOL My supervisors noticed and, when I was supervising, would frequently send me the “tough” cases — kids who thought they were god — to whup back into being human beings. (I didn’t tolerate superior, rude behavior from my “kids.”) When I left public accounting, I was touched to learn, as I was contacting my clients and letting them know who would be in charge and who they should contact, that four or five of my biggest clients wished that they’d known I wanted to leave ’cause they would have loved to have had me on their staff. That was one of the nicest compliments and I’ve never forgotten it.

    I’ll admit that in my last corporate job, my rougher side had a tendency to come out! LOL I’ll blame it on long hours and lack of sleep… and a tendency to think that the truth should be told, whether or not people wanted to hear it. I definitely wasn’t politically correct.

    Now I’m back to what I consider to be the “real” me. I smile and thank people and generally approach problems pleasantly. I thank people for their help and find things go much easier.

    The gentler attitude has another added bonus — it makes other people’s day! I recently had a techical assistant at a credit card company tell me that, in the five years he’d been working there, he’d never had anyone be so nice to deal with. I was surprised ’cause I’d had a problem and he’d given me a bunch of information that I hadn’t been aware of, that would make my life easier and I really couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t be grateful. I also found it a sad comment on our society that people wouldn’t be thankful for his help.

    The everyday common courtesies really do grease the wheels of human interaction. If the only result is to make your own life a bit easier — without monetary gain, it’s well worth it!

  3. Persephone says:

    I’m always polite and friendly(at least that is my intention). Undoubtedly, I’ve benefited from my courteous ways. There was a time, though, when I first joined the workforce as a professional when I was criricized for my smile and “Thank You” approach. “People won’t take you seriously if you’re not tough,” I heard. I wondered then why gruffness was equated with strength. I had always thought that rude people were unhappy and insecure. Long story short — I didn’t change my ways and I eventually earned the respect
    of my colleagues.

  4. spicoli says:

    i wish people could all be nice and display what you have just talked about.

    Good life lesson

  5. Carl says:

    Dave Not only does being polite work wonders but it is always the right thing to do. Often, when I am presented with a very curtious waiter or very polite checkout person, I make it a point to let the manager know how nice my experience was. I often find that the manager expects the customary bad news and it very pleasantly surprised with the good news. Although I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be that when it gets back to the waiter or clerk, their day is better and their service is likely to be better. A win/win for all. Thanks for the positive blog.

  6. Ann says:

    Has anyone watched the recently added new show called “True Beauty”? It’s fascinating in its own way because, to the contestants, the show is all about which of the original 10 is the most beautiful. What they don’t know, until they’re kicked off, is that what they’re really being jusdged on is how they treat others and react to situations (thus, the name True Beauty).

    Ive actually gotten a kick out of watching it a couple of times ’cause most of the contestants haven’t a clue! To me, none of them are that drop dead gorgeous that they can afford some of the rude, egotistical behavior they’ve exhibited.

    In this case, though they’re unaware of it, being nice is what’s going to award one of them with the $100,000 prize at the end. LOL

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