I recently had some car challenges. As soon as my vehicle would not start, I realized it was probably because of a bad battery. After getting some jumper cables and getting my car started, I made a call to my local Firestone car care center. I talked to my friend, Chris, and told him that I was bringing the car in because I thought I had a battery problem. Because it was raining when all of this happened, I asked Chris if it would be okay to simply pull it into one of the open bays at Firestone when I arrived. My thinking was that if I parked it outside in the rain and turned it off, one of the Firestone employees would have to go outside and “jump-start” it again in order to get it back inside the building. Therefore, I was trying to think ahead and be a good Boy Scout! I wanted to save them the hassle. Chris thought that was a good idea and agreed to my plan.
Because of the bad weather and the traffic, it took me a little bit longer to get to Firestone than I had originally intended. When I got there, the bay doors were up, just as Chris had said. I pulled in and got out of my car. Within just a few seconds, Firestone became FIREWORKS! The manager on duty, Randy, walked over to me and said, “What are you doing?” I asked him if Chris was there. I was told that Chris had just gotten off work a few minutes earlier. No wonder Randy was looking at me like I was some kind of jerk for just pulling my car directly into one of the bays without anyone’s permission!
Rather than being defensive, I quickly explained the situation to Randy. I told him that I had called ahead and spoken to Chris and told him that my car was having battery problems. I explained that I had asked permission to pull it into one of the open bays when I arrived so that no one would have to go outside and jump-start my vehicle in the rain. I said to him, “It would have been very disrespectful for me to just pull my car in here off the street. That’s why I called ahead and spoke with Chris.” (By the way, it is always a great idea to get the name of the person you talked to when you call any business establishment. It will often save you time and unnecessary trouble in future dealings with that company.)
As soon as I explained the circumstances, Randy smiled and nodded his head. You see, I had diffused any tension from the situation by explaining that I understood how my actions could have been perceived as disrespectful to him had I not called and spoken to Chris ahead of time. Again, he smiled, walked me over to the counter and said, “Let’s see what we can do to find out about your battery.”
Now, I realize that is just a very simple story, but I am of the strong opinion that most of us do not realize the power of respect. I demonstrated respect on two accounts: I called Chris and asked permission and, I did not react toward Randy when he did not understand my actions. Rather than being defensive or act as though Randy should have automatically known what Chris and I had talked about, I simply explained why I had done what I did.
Granted, it would have been better if Chris had explained to Randy what he had previously talked about, but I am sure they were busy. And, when Chris was ready to leave work, I probably was not the most important thing on his mind. Besides, he did not promise me that he would stay until I arrived that afternoon and I had not anticipated what time he was going to leave work that day.
All I am saying is this: go out of your way to show respect. When you communicate to others that you respect them, it makes them feel important. No one should ever walk into another person’s place of business and “take over”. And, that is exactly what it looked like I was doing. By getting on Randy’s good side very quickly and demonstrating respect for him, it immediately diffused the situation.
The next time you get into a heated situation with someone, quickly ask yourself the question, “Is respect the issue here?” I would say that about 95% of the time, it is. Respect is a powerful tool to show someone that you care about how they think and how they feel. I saw it in Randy’s eyes and you will see it in other people’s eyes, too.
Tip: Respect goes a long way!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm
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