When I was a child my mother could be yelling at us girls at the top of her lungs, but if the phone rang she picked it up without skipping a beat and sweetly said, “Hello who is calling please?” I always marveled at how quickly she could go from furious at us, to charming to the stranger on the other end of the wire. She was miraculously and instantly able to change her tone and emotional fury to kindness in seconds. I often thought my mother could have starred in Sybil and won an Oscar. In fact I used to imitate her, “I told you girls to clean your rooms! Now get up there NOW and…..ring ring….Hello, oh how nice to hear from you, so sweet of you to call……” I realize that my mother was no different than any other mother. I could do the same thing when my children were little. It’s a prerequisite for every mom to be able to to do that. I remember one time in particular when I was livid with one of my kids. I was yelling at the top of my lungs when the door bell rang and it was my preacher. My whole persona changed instantaneously.
I know people who are so sweet and lovely to everyone they meet, anyone who comes to the door, the clerk in the store, the people at work and yet they are grumpy and often times outright rude to the people they supposedly love. If we have the ability to change our emotions the minute the phone or the door bell rings, why don’t we use that talent with the people we love?
In many ways, I think we take for granted the very people who are the most important to us. We barely mumble a good morning to the ones we live with, but greet the strangers at the grocery store with a warm greeting and a smile.
I want everyone in my life to treat me the way they would a complete stranger. Oh boy that would be wonderful. Kindness. Smiles. Warm Greetings. Consideration. Compassion. Appreciation. Manners. These are all given freely to all the nameless people we encounter each day and also to the people we interact with teachers, students, clients, neighbors and the like.
Since this thought came to me this morning, I’ve been wondering why it is we do this? Is it because we know our family loves us and we feel we don’t have to impress them with our sweetness? Are we taking each other for granted? Is it because we have to be able to ‘be ourselves’ at times and best to be ugly at home than in the marketplace? I’m not sure what the answer is. However I do know, at times, we’d be better off if the ones we loved treated us like a stranger.
Yvonne Conte is a corporate culture expert, motivational humorist, professional speaker, and coach. She has Humor Advantage, Inc. offices in Warners, NY, and Fort Myers, FL, and is the founder of the Day of Joy conference. Her clients include small, medium, and fortune 500 companies. In addition to being a radio and TV personality, Conte is the author of six books including ‘Serious Laughter.’ Find more information online at www.yvonneconte.com