I was having a bad day on Monday. Then I had to go to the Post Office – seldom a great experience. I’m not big on standing in line. However, I had a book order to ship to Sweden and so off to the post office I went.
When I got there, I got out of my car to pay the parking charge. In the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver where I live, you don’t pay a meter, you pay at a kiosk which gives you a receipt that you place on the dash of your car.
As I headed for the kiosk, a lady in a Lexus, waved to me. When I went over to her car, she asked if I would like a parking receipt that still had 35 minutes of time on it. I smiled and said, “I’ve been having a bad day, and you’ve just made it better.” She smiled and said, “Great.” She drove off. I’ll probably never see her again. But our brief encounter did a lot to change my attitude that day.
My mood improved as a result of it. It wasn’t the 50 cents that I saved at the parking kiosk. It was the fact that a stranger took the time to do me a favor. She gave me her parking receipt with unused time on it. In the greater scheme of things, this was a small gesture, but one that brought a smile to my face.
In Straight Talk for Success I point out that interpersonal competence is a key to career and life success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things: 1) get to know yourself; 2) build strong, lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life; and 3) resolve conflict positively.
Besides that, interpersonally competent people are willing to do small things for others – like the lady in the Lexus did for me. Interpersonally competent people are nice. They’re caring. They do things for others that they don’t have to.
The common sense point here is simple. Small things mean a lot. If you want to become known as an interpersonally competent person you need to do small, but kind things that make others’ lives easier. It’s not hard – offer to help to a coworker, smile at a stranger, hold the door for someone, give a stranger your unused parking minutes. If you do these small things, you’ll find that you will be better able to build strong relationships with the people in your life, and you’ll become known as an interpersonally competent person.
That’s my take on how small things can mean a lot when it comes to building relationships and becoming interpersonally competent. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing a story where someone has done you an unexpected kindness, making your day. As always, thanks for reading.