Recently I caught up with an old friend over coffee and what I mean by old friend is that we’ve been friends for over 40 decades.
Over the past 5 months or so, she has taken to walking several kilometres every day to improve her fitness and health. She said that now that she has made the lifestyle choice of being fitter and healthier, she has also made the decision not to tolerate negativity in people. She said she was tired of listening to people bitch and moan and then they moaned more when people avoided them or / and weren’t nice back to them.
I call these people the ‘Negative Annies’ or ‘Negative Andies’. No offence to people with either of those names, what I’m referencing is the negative behaviours and emotions that some people like to live their lives in. They may be manipulative, avoid telling the truth to others as well as to themselves, put other people down and spend their time bad mouthing others. Then they are amazed when people respond with either avoiding them or being negative back to them.
I love and I know that’s a strong word but yes, I do love the saying You Reap what you Sow. If you go around bad mouthing and bitching about people well that’s what you are sowing and therefore, what will you reap? Well again, no one will want to be around you nor will they want to have a relationship with you. On the other hand, if you look for the best in people and be kind to people, I have found that they generally respond in kind.
When I was studying for my Diploma in Coaching many years ago, I recall a story being relayed to our group about a bus travelling to the west of Ireland. On that bus was a group of tourists looking to explore the treasures of the Atlantic Way. The bus stopped at the top of a boreen which led to a small village. Next to where the bus stopped stood an elderly and wise man. The 1st tourist got off the bus and asked the elderly man ‘what are the people like in this village?’. The elderly man responded ‘what are the people like where you came from?’. The tourist responded ‘they are nosey, vindictive, spiteful and out to get you’. The elderly man responded with ‘well, then that’s who you’ll find here’. The tourist grumpily set off for the village.
Another tourist approached the elderly man and asked ‘what are the people like in this village?’. The elderly man responded ‘what are the people like where you came from?’. The tourist replied ‘kind, considerate, they have your back and help each other out’. The elderly man responded with ‘well, then that’s who you’ll find here’.
The moral of this story is when we choose to stay in a negative mindset and negative towards people, people respond negatively towards us and vice versa.
I often tell this story on my courses to demonstrate how ‘you reap what you sow’.
Several years ago, when my children were young, I lived in Navan, a commuter town close to Dublin. Most of my work was in Dublin City so if I was working in Dublin for the day, I’d pack as many tasks into those days to save me having to make an extra trip back into Dublin on the weekend.
One day, I was working close to Grafton Street where Marks & Spencer’s was situated. As I was in need of a new work suit, I made my way to the store on my lunch break. As I was running up the marble stair case to the floor where the suits were located, I could hear one Sales Assistant at the cash desk bitching and moaning about ungrateful customers to another Sales Assistant. I made a sharp turn right and down to the area where the suits were situated. After a few minutes of trying to match a black jacket with a black skirt with not much success, I knew I needed help. I made my way back up to the cash desk and lo and behold, the only Sales Assistant I could see was the one that had been giving out about ungrateful customers. I approached her with great trepidation and here’s how the conversation went’
‘Yes’ – said very abruptly by the Sales Assistant.
‘Can you please explain to me how I can match a suit jacket with a skirt? I’ve tried to match a pair but keep ending up with different patterns or linings. I can see you are busy so I don’t need you to come down and show me as I should be able to figure it out if you explain how to do it’.
She started to explain how to pair a suit by looking at the SKU on the tag in the lining of both the jacket and the skirt – both SKU’s should match. She then started to make her way down to the suit area and then proceeded to show me how to match the tags. She left me when she could see I was able to successfully match a jacket and skirt. With my new knowledge, I picked out a jacket and skirt that matched. I then made my way back to the cash desk. The same Sales Assistant was at the cash desk and I told her how grateful I was for her help. I explained how I didn’t often get into Dublin so when I was in the city, I tried to get as many tasks done as I could. We chatted for a few minutes and as she was cashing me out, she said to me:
‘You are the nicest customer I’ve had all day’.
Now, you might say awwh at this stage but I ask you this – was I the nicest customer she had all day or had she changed her mindset and subsequent behaviour to look at the good in our interaction? The answer is rhetorical, yes, she had changed her mindset and the subsequent interaction with me was pleasant for both of us.
So, here’s something for you to check out today. Notice how your mindset impacts your behaviour and the subsequent effect it has on others. Great, if you are in a positive mindset so what you sow is what you’ll reap and it will be a pleasant day. If you are moving towards a negative mindset then observe how your subsequent behaviour affects others. Again, you reap what you sow.