Commentary 2

What’s Your Story?

...by Kelly Riley-Dunbavin

A few months ago I was forwarded a link to a YouTube video, "Every Life Has a Story... If we only bother to read it.”  It turned out to be a video by an American restaurant chain, Chick-Fil-A which as the short explanation that accompanies it says "was created to remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience.”  I felt a strong emotional reaction to the video, which in 5 minutes captures a moment in time at a busy Chick-Fil-A restaurant.  Set to music with no dialogue, the camera allows the viewer to look in on the intimate moments of a number of different customers and staff. Beside each individual or group a text explanation appears like "fired from his job and is worried how he will provide for his family” or "after years of fighting cancer he is now cancer free”.  It forced me to stop and think about how often I fail to acknowledge the lives of others.

I’m guilty (like many) of being wrapped up in my own little world.  I’m quite in touch with what’s going on in my life - I have a lot of empathy for myself.  But what about others?  If I’ve been short with the girl serving me my morning latte in the morning, I can easily reason that it was because x, y, z had happened and I was having a bad morning as a result.  But the poor girl serving me doesn’t know that and doesn’t deserve my shortness.    Conversely, nor does she deserve my sarcastic "service with a smile” comments if she is less than cordial with me.  Maybe she’s having a rough day – what’s her story?  Perhaps if I took a moment, gave her a break and proffered her a smile instead of a snarl, it could change her day.  She could in turn change another person’s day and so on.  Pay it forward so to speak.

This idea can also translate into the corporate world.  Do you take the time to get to know your team? Do you know when they’ve had a good/bad weekend? Do you ask?   There are a number of reasons that this kind of empathy would go a long way in the work place. The one that sticks out most in my mind is that in getting to know your team members better; you can build stronger team morale.  If your employees or colleagues sense that you actually care about them as individuals, they may feel better engaged in working for (or with) you.  And as we all know engaged employees can lead to increased productivity which leads to better profits, etc. etc. Everybody wins! 

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing the message for me remains the same: every person does have a story and a little empathy can go a long way to making this world a better place.