22 July 2009

A Smile and a Name

A few minutes ago I had the gas man, H Bhai, come and set up my connection. Sans a bribe one can't get a government gas agency to even talk to you much less register for a connection. So, I went in for a private player in the market and so far, it's been great. But this post is not about the gas man. It's about what happened when I met him.

My usual style in any conversation with a service person is to enquire after their name and then provide mine. Most people give their name but are genuinely shocked when I remember it later. My father had told me this trick years ago about how remembering a person's name and spelling it correctly will open their hearts to me - once again, he is right. I'm quite rotten at remembering names actually and many times start the sentence with 'What's-her-name?' so, I cheat. I write it down on a slip of paper and shove it into my handbag. Admittedly shoving anything into my handbag is like tossing something into a 6 ft hole but I do manage to find stuff in it, occasionally even without emptying the entire content on the table. Anyhoo, the gas man came and was pleasantly surprised when I called him by name. To conclude I offered him a seat and some water. Then I topped off the visit with a Thank you, but in Hindi. Oh boy, he was impressed. I got a very nice Khuda Aafizz at the end!

This is just one of my interactions. Then there is my office housekeeper, the ironwallah, my maid, the gazillion watchmen in the building... urban India is one giant service industry and I make it point to do two things - Call them by name followed by an appropriate designation (Didi, Akka, Anna etc) and I smile. Either the people of Hyderabad are really nice or this strategy is working great. Everyone I meet has been so pleasant and nice. I'm going to be immodest and suggest, not everyone does this. For some reason, we tend to save our smiles for those we know or care about and, certainly not for those who are providing us a service. And I believe, this small gesture makes a big difference to almost every interaction I have had. In this daily world of violence and harsh sounds it's so soothing to have interactions lubricated by smiling that I can't imagine why more people don't do it. Besides, smiling uses less energy and muscles than frowning. There you see, some fantastic qualitative social analysis backed up by credible scientific fact. So smile often and jot names down. That's probably the only strategy you'll even need on how to win friends and influence people!

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to HYD... no north Indian no south Indian.. Just Hyderabadi !

    Jiyo aur jine do