To acknowledge

It is not the first time that this thought crosses my mind: how quick we are in criticizing and complaining and how stingy we are in acknowledging and praising others. Listen to this story, of my own personal experience:

Last summer my wife and I along with another couple were travelling in Ireland. Ireland had been suffering from a severe recession for many years and was just recently showing signs of economic growth, but now their economy is suffering again. It is a nice and interesting place to visit, but this is not a touristic column, so this is not the issue.

We stopped for lunch at a local pub/restaurant in a small and forgotten town that was on our way. We chose a corner wooden table for four and while waiting for our order we allowed the pleasant sunshine to warm us through the corner window. Our table was facing the entrance. After a while the double doors opened and a young girl, about 10 years old, came-in accompanied by her mother that was pushing a baby stroller. The young girl was standing by the door holding it, like a true gentleman, and politely allowed her mother to enter comfortably into the restaurant with the stroller and the baby.

We couldn’t ignore the scene. Normally you are used to see kids either bursting inside filled with energy, occupied with only themselves, or sometimes to the contrary, standing shy with their parents as they are entering unfamiliar places.

We talked between the four of us about the nice behaviour of the girl and how it is all about education. Our friend said; “Why should we only keep this to ourselves? Aren’t we impressed? So let’s tell it to the mother. Let’s acknowledge her for her good education!” But with a kind of a cynicism we didn’t encourage him. Meanwhile our food had arrived and we had forgotten about the woman and her daughter.

When we finished our meal and were putting on our coats, ready to leave, the mother and her daughter finished their meal as well and were on their way out. The girl, again, run quickly to the door, opened it up for her mother and allowed her to pass with comfort with the baby stroller.  So it was not a coincidence.

Since we were close to them, my friend didn’t hold back this time. I assumed he prepared himself, so he faced the woman and said: “With your permission, madam. Look… we are tourists here…we are not locals… but we couldn’t ignore your daughter’s polite behaviour. Well… she was doing it so naturally…. I mean opening the door for you. I wanted to compliment your daughter for what she did, and compliment you for your great education. As parents we enjoyed watching it.”

She blushed, then looked proudly at her daughter and thanked us.

 Back in the car we talked about it, of course. Not about the girl’s behaviour but rather about how stingy we are in complimenting wholeheartedly. Why are we so held back when it comes to acknowledge people for their warm attitude, for their great friendship, great parenthood, or for just being polite?

A friend of mine, Abi Shilon, once opened my eyes with a nice distinction that differentiate between a compliment and an acknowledgement – a compliment like: “What a nice dress you are wearing today” becomes much more significant when it turns into something like: “I just love your taste in clothes.” And when it comes from a real place, encouraging without being envious, just imagine how empowering it can be. I personally remember words of acknowledgement from ages ago that are still with me and always will be. These words are burnt into my consciousness.

Think about it and do it more… it changes the level of connection between people.

Fireworks (57)
Shuka, Thursday, June 17, 2010

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