The gymnasium school my Dad founded almost 50 years ago had a motto he wrote and taped to the wall, and its message is forever etched in my mind. It said, "To have a body does not make one a man. To have a child does not make one a parent." Please pardon the seeming gender bias. It was written when that writing style was the norm, but the saying is certainly true of each of the sexes, then and today.
According to Dad, the saying meant you just can't judge people by outward appearances. He says, "A couple would walk into the gym with their child, the husband handsome and looking as though the world was his, the wife attractive and confident-looking. Your first impression was that this is the perfect, happy family. Then, as you got to know them, you learned the husband had serious self-doubts, the wife did not feel at all attractive, and they were both unhappy with each other. Unfortunately, often the child was also not happy with himself as well. Wow, it really made you realize there's a lot more to people than just what meets the eye."
Isn't that so true of the people we come across on a daily basis? We assume people are what they appear to be. And they assume the same about us. The fact is - people have challenges they are constantly fighting. Some are external - most are internal. When we remember that, it helps us in dealing with the negativity that person seems to have towards us for no apparent reason. It helps us to empathize with them, and understand them.
We realize their unhelpful attitude is more than likely nothing personal, and more a reflection of what they see in the mirror every morning. By extending a pleasant countenance and an attitude of understanding, we have an opportunity to help them, and help ourselves at the same time.
Dad has always had the gift of building confidence in people - making them feel good about themselves. In fact, that was basically his goal as he left the house every morning. It was literally his profession. He'd work with the couple, helping them see in each other what they saw when they were first married. He also helped them to get in touch with what they like about themselves. We can do the same. First, remember that appearances can be deceiving, and that a person probably has a desire to feel better about him and herself than they presently feel. Make the usually difficult-to-deal-with person feel good about themselves, and they will have a strong desire to do the same for you. Oh, and the unhappy child mentioned earlier? Typically, once the parents felt good about themselves and their relationship, the son or daughter felt likewise.
Bob Burg is author of "Winning Without Intimidation" and "Endless Referrals." To receive 20% off on Bob's products visit www.YourSuccessStore.com or call 877-929-0439.