A Flawless Delivery

By: Stephanie Reynolds

We really have NO idea.

We can’t even fathom how our words and attitude cause ripples beyond our imagination.

This point was brought firmly home during a class called “Flawless Delivery.” It was created by the Holistic Performance Group for those in the hospitality industry (though I think everyone should take it). I thought the class would tell us where to put the salad fork and how to seat guests (things I actually already know thanks to my mother who was the epitome of a Southern lady). But I like taking classes, and this included a free overnight stay in a hotel, so I signed up.

Y’all…when I tell you that this class was probably the most impactful class I have taken in decades, I am not exaggerating.

Firstly, there was no mention of fork placement.

In fact, the class was actually a deep dive into us, into being emotionally intelligent. We learned stress prevention, self-care, mind-setting, emotional regulation, and more.

And we learned what happens when we put these things in place. For example:

A man was looking for a new place to build a factory. Town and city presented their best: tax breaks, land availability, etc. — all the things that a company would want to get the best bang for their building buck.

He made his choice and was asked, “Why there?” He explained that, frankly, the place didn’t have the best tax or land arrangement. But when he walked through the streets, the friendliness of the area was what he wanted for the families of his employees. At the end of the day, it was the smiles, not the bottom line, that swayed him.

Just think…because a handful of waiters and clerks and other citizens were briefly friendly to a random stranger, the area was blessed financially. The smile of a store checkout person can actually create jobs!

But there’s more…

A man walked into a hotel. The desk clerk was friendly. She spoke warmly and chatted with him–upbeat and helpful. She took her time with him, he took his key from her, and the interaction was over.

…Until the next morning. He came down and asked to talk to the clerk. He told her, “Thank you,” and explained to her that he had checked in planning to end his life. However, her friendliness and warmth made him decide to give life another try.

Now, think about that. He was one of dozens, hundreds of guests she had seen. She wasn’t trying to save the world before dark and had no idea that the simple act of friendly kindness would actually save a human life.

I’m discovering how openness, friendliness, kindness are strengths, not weaknesses. In a culture that says the way to be happy is to be edgy and dominant, this seems like nonsense. But who is the happiest? The one who glowers, ready to strike first or the one who faces life with faith and a smile? Who is actually unafraid? The one who looks at others with suspicion or the one always looking for a new friend? Who is actually more confident? The one lashing out so no one lashes back OR the one who looks people and life in the eye, knowing they can handle whatever life throws at them?

Interestingly, during our class, I had to play an angry front desk clerk at a hotel. Now, in real life, I might get grouchy or terse but I NEVER yell or threaten. However, I had to tap into the worst of human traits for this skit. And I was pretty good at it, honestly. It was frighteningly easy to stomp, scream, threaten and accuse. It was actually powerful in a way. I finally realized how self-servingly delicious it tastes to be horrible.

And, just like eating a delicious but contaminated meal, after the heady trip of being domineering and crass, I felt horrible — sick to my stomach and shaking. And I was just acting a trait on a card with people who knew I was playing a role!

But think about that — being angry releases hormones. Yes, some of those hormones, like adrenaline, are a rush. But other hormones hurt us physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Even if we don’t care about others, we’ll live healthier and longer when we choose (and it is a choice) to act in peace, kindness, and well-being.

I can’t emphasize enough how this skit, compared to the story of the life-saving kindness of the other front-desk clerk, showed how words have power. Imagine if that same struggling man had come upon “angry desk-clerk Stephanie,” with a chip on her shoulder and a head full of pride. How a life could have been lost by a “delicious” sense of self-satisfaction. Or how an entire community could have lost jobs because of a snarl from a person having a bad day who felt entitled to take it out on someone else.

Y’all, the power of life and death really is in the tongue. The Good Book tells us that and it’s true. With our tongues, we give life or take it, both other peoples’ lives and our own.

We matter. Our attitudes matter. Our presence matters. Our behavior matters. No matter how insignificant we may feel, we are never, EVER “just a….” Let’s practice making sure that our interactions are flawless.

By: Stephanie Reynolds, Athens-Limestone Tourism Association