Our parents and teachers taught us the “magic words”. Now that we are adults, have we lost the magic?
In today’s fast paced world, we cannot tolerate someone else having a bad day. And, it is so easy to complain. We phone our kids’ school complaining. We leave negative reviews. We rate our doctors, our professors and our dry cleaners with just a touch of the keyboard.
Do we find the time, the words and the keystrokes to say “Thank You”, too? Are we even-handed, making sure that we offer compliments as easily as we offer criticism?
A while back, our township’s postmaster changed the mail routes on our side of town. For several weeks, our mail was coming at odd times, after dark and some times not at all. My city block had been removed from the route of the wonderful mail carrier who had delivered our mail for over a decade. My mail was being delivered by whomever was available at the end of the day, and clearly there were days that no one was available. I was livid and it was time to set the record straight. I was determined to make sure that our mail would be reassigned to our original mail carrier.
I picked up the phone and called the postmaster. She patiently explained to me that she was unable to give our address back to the original mail carrier. She also explained to me that there was no guarantee that our mail would be delivered consistently at the same time of day. Furthermore, she explained that occasionally I may have to contend with mail arriving after dark and that she was still working on finding a new mail carrier for us. I was disappointed, but decided to wait and see how the new mail carrier worked out before calling again.
To my great delight, the postmaster placed our address with a mail carrier who was friendlier, more efficient and even more consistent than his predecessor. I thanked our new mailman when he brought mail all the way to to my door and when he took the outgoing mail from my roadside mailbox. I thanked him when he delivered the mail in the rain, in the the sleet and in the hail. I thanked him when he brought an entire crate of mail after a vacation hold. I was an adult using the magic word and I was pleased with myself.
After months of exemplary mail delivery service, I mentioned to my kids how pleased I was with our new mail carrier and I shared the story about calling the postmaster.
They were unimpressed.
They asked, “Did you call the postmaster to thank her for making the adjustment?”
Right. I took the time to call her with a complaint, but I couldn’t find the time to call her with a compliment.
I picked up the phone. I called the postmaster.
I could tell she was holding her breath when I rattled off my address and the fact that I had called her six months ago. She was clearly waiting for the next complaint.
And then, I used the magic my kids had suggested.
“I just wanted to thank you for addressing my issue and sending me the most wonderful mail carrier.”
The postmaster was astounded and shared the following with me: “In all my years as postmaster, no one has ever called to thank me. You made my day.”
Clearly, the magic words still have the power to impress.