In a world where everyone is continuously running and seemingly preoccupied with their own needs and problems, I have learned and experienced a simple rule to help me get through my daily encounters with others. People will match the energy and tone you display in many of life’s stressful and irritating situations. Kindness will most likely be matched with kindness and hostility most likely will be matched with hostility. My mother taught me this a long time ago, and I have learned for myself its truth.
When I was about nine years old, my mother and I traveled to a convention for her business. We went to go check into the hotel we were staying, and the clerk told my mother that they overbooked the hotel, and that our room was no longer available. I remember watching my mother, calm, relatively soft-spoken, but firm, explaining our situation and her distaste for the entire ordeal. I watched the hotel manager change his demeanor from being very defensive and cold to becoming much more accommodating. I asked my mother why she didn’t get angry and yell at the man. My mother gently explained to me as a nine year old, “By not yelling at the man, we were more able to communicate clearly. We matched each others energy and were able to come to an agreement.” I didn’t get it at the time.
Recently, I took a job at my local university where I am also taking classes. I work in a computer lab performing basic computer aid. It is a low-paying, student job everyone called simple and mindless, but I was warned that the students can be very unpleasant at times. I was prepared to ask for combat pay, but I learned that Mom’s advice holds true. People really do match your energy and reaction to situations. Students, who others deemed impossible to deal with, really aren’t that bad. A little kindness goes a long way.
Although I am a novice with troubleshooting computer problems, when I stay calm and kind, it is much easier to deal with someone who can’t print their paper when it is due in five minutes. They can more accurately describe what the problem is, and I can more clearly understand, since they are not competing with both a person and a machine. When I smile and say “Good Morning” to someone who pretty much rolled out of bed to finish an assignment at 7:30am, they look back at me, smile, and I can see them relax, and be pleasantly surprised someone took the time to treat them well.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the continuous quest to make a deadline, but imagine if we all just slowed down, if only for a second, to offer a bit of our peace in the midst of chaos. A better world really does lie within all of us. A college computer lab isn’t a bad place to begin.
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