Tuesday, January 29, 2008  Issue #5 

“If we fall, we don’t need self-recrimination or blame or anger – we need a reawakening of our intention and a willingness to recommit, to be whole-hearted once again.” – Sharon Salzberg  

This week I am sharing stories about successful human communication, built on intention.  I hope you enjoy them and will put the lessons to use.

Coral Dishes?  A little story about good communication skills and the value of friendliness. 

My friend DKA owns a rental coach in Arizona.  The tenant is elderly, and DKA is taking care of replacing electronic items for her that were ruined by a power surge during a recent storm.  He’s shopping at a large discount store.  He picks up a new TV, microwave and a few other items the tenant added to the list.  He’s stumped by one of the items.  “What are ‘Coral Dishes’?” he asks himself.  He doesn’t see an employee to ask but notices a diminutive elderly woman whose head rises over her shopping card by only a few inches.  “She will help me,” he decides. 

Now you have to picture this:  DKA is 6’4″ and his targeted helper is a barely 5′ elderly and frail woman.  DKA strides up with his cart and in his loud and booming voice exclaims, “Hello!  Can you teach me something?” 

“Excuse me?” the woman mutters weakly.  She looks up to see this huge (to her) man hovering over her with an equally huge smile and sparkling eyes.

“I need you to teach me something.” he repeats.

“Well, I can try,” she allows, with a little more confidence when she sees his smile and demeanor.

“You see,” he begins, “I own a coach over at XYZ Resort and my tenant gave me this list of items to pick up for her.  I’m done except for this one item.  Can you teach me what ‘Coral Dishes’ are?” as he hands her the note.

The woman takes the list, looks at the item he is pointing to and starts to laugh.  “Follow me!” she says as she turns her cart away and heads across the store at a brisk pace, with DKA following closely behind.

As they reach the dishware aisle, she points to a box of dishes and smiling says, “These are Corelle dishes – not ‘Coral’!  What color is your coach?  Blue?  Here, this is what you want.”  She hands him the box of dishes.  Giggling, she turns and pushes her cart away, standing tall (for her) and feeling stronger, with a big smile on her face for the funny tall man.

As DKA walks toward the checkout with the dishes in his cart, he reflects on his success.  “It is never what we ask; it is how we ask it that helps us achieve our results.”

Remember that the next time you need help.  Always smile.  Always ask with respect and with confidence that you will be successful.  And know that people always like to teach.  It’s not what we say or ask.  It is how we communicate our intention.