A few weeks ago , my wife and I noticed our son, Agastya was forgetting the magic words. He is seven now and there was no way we could explain his behavior saying ‘Oh he is only a child!’.
To help him and ourselves, we started the ‘ Say the magic word’ campaign at home. No more ‘Mama water’. If he could, he had to get it himself or say the magic ‘please’. Likewise, no thank you means the water went back! The campaign was making it’ s impact and just when we thought we had one less boor at in the world, disaster struck really hard and how!
We were out for dinner with new acquaintances. The disaster, started with the menu distribution. The poor waiter forgot to hand over the menu card to our new found acquaintance’s wife. She immediately snapped her finger and yelled ‘hallo! what about me? The poor fella had his eyeballs hit the floor and bounce back to the socket. I quietly handed over my menu card. Agastya who was busy with his Nintendo gave a quizzical ‘is this the magical behavior? That was just the beginning. The dinner was a demonstration of behavior that we wished Agastya was not witness too. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ the magical words were missing. In place there were demands, remonstrations and loud comments. We squirmed, we ate and we bid goodbye never to meet again.
Dear Agastya had a lot of questions, we had a bit of explaining to do, but we did as well as we can without being judgmental. Fortunately, at seven, your child still thinks you are knowledgeable, so we minimized damage and continued our magic word campaign. Explaining this to him I realized that many of us adults, may not even be aware of the missing magic words.
Also in our country somehow the pecking order seems to be the barking order – who shouts the loudest gets the way seems to be the mantra. Maybe we think that this is the only way to get things done. Whatever the reason, I thought this was a good subject to write on.
I looked for recent incidents that I could write as examples… of when adults forgot the magic words!
I am unwell….ok thank you
January of this year I remember, I missed a meeting with a colleague based in our New York office because I was unwell. Once I returned to work from the brief illness, I sent a regret note to the colleague that I was unwell, therefore I missed the meeting and will schedule time for us to connect again. In response I just get a plain ok!!
How I would have loved to hear… ‘Oh! Trust you are better now… Thank you for letting me know. Look forward to our meeting!’ Magic! Just a little cheer that’s it but definitely would have oiled the wheels for future conversations for both of us.
People who serve us and a test for Indian Idioms
Here’s another one, I frequently notice. The gent who comes around to serve coffee or tea in meetings rarely gets a thank you or a quick acknowledgment. He is virtually not there!
Persona non grata’ as they say (now can I challenge my readers to get me a local saying for that)
I wish we would just look at them, briefly nod, and continue with whatever earth saving meeting we are in!
Recently, while checking in at a hotel front desk, I noticed a gentleman berating the receptionist. Apparently he was attending a meeting, was not staying at the hotel but wanted keep his bags at the concierge. The receptionist declined stating security reasons the hotel did not allow this. Fully understand and necessary, how do we know the chappy did not have his bags loaded with explosives. But the gent would not let go. He raved and ranted, asked finally asked for the supervisor. Fortunately the receptionist stood her ground and asked him to fly a kite most politely! She is a rare one… I have seen many a service professional being shouted down by boors like this.
Distractions… that distort the magic
You are talking to someone, their phone beeps and you are left staring at them for the next 5 minutes. Or worse still, you are in the middle of a one o one conversation and the other person picks up their phone and starts answering their mails!
I must admit though, that I have been guilty of this crime too! Here is a public apology and a commitment never to do it again! If i do please throw my phone on the floor and… just tell me I will apologize and not do it again.
The Big what if…
Before I leave let me address another question that you will most definitely have. “Will my niceness be taken for weakness?”
We too got asked the same by our friends and acquaintances, when we insist Agastya uses the magic words and follows simple courtesies.
“Hey, at this rate, you will make him too nice to survive in this world!”
Being nice doesn’t mean allowing people to take you for granted.
Taking off on our last post on Indian Idioms… even your scolding has to be like “injecting a ripe banana” smooth, painless yet mission accomplished.
Here is wishing you lots of magic this Ganesha
… you can start by making some magic for me with your comments J