I was travelling by train from Circular Quay to Central (in Sydney) one morning some years ago. Quietly sitting there reading, I found myself suddenly listening to the train guard’s announcements. Now train travellers reading this will readily testify that when the guard makes an announcement, rather than the recorded message, it’s often quite dull or hard to understand. Whether it’s the recorded message or the guard’s message, few people (apart from tourists) listen to these messages.
This one was different.
As I looked up from my paper, I noticed that other passengers (previously engrossed in their smart phones or tablets) were also looking up and appeared to be listening. Not only that, everyone was smiling!
Why was so much attention being paid to this message?
As best I can recall, the guard said something along these lines, “Good Morning Ladies, Gentlemen and Children, this is the 7.35am from Penrith to Central and you’ll be pleased to know that we are right on time. This means that we’ll get you to where you’re going in plenty of time. And what a lovely morning it is in Sydney today. The sun is shining, temperature is about 21 degrees, birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. I trust you have a great day wherever you’re going. Thanks for catching my train this morning and I hope to see you again soon. Have a great day.”
Wow! Have you ever heard an announcement like that? I certainly hadn’t.
And how contagious was it? As well as getting everyone smiling, there were quite a few people (obviously previously strangers) who started talking to one another. They were all talking about the guard’s fabulous message and how good it had made everyone feel.
I started thinking about this and as I exited the train at Central, I approached the Guard’s cabin and started to thank him, to which the guard replied “Don’t know what you’re talking about mate, I’ve just come on”. So I asked where the other guard had gone and he pointed to the exit stairs.
I raced down the stairs, taking them two at a time, and caught the young guard at the bottom. He had obviously finished his shift and was on his way home.
I tapped him on the shoulder and said “Were you the guard on the 7.35 from Penrith?”. The guard seemed a bit stunned at first replying, “Yes, yyyyes.” (In hindsight I think I too would have been a bit stunned if someone had approached me like that). Pressing on I said “Well, I just wanted to thank you for your fabulous message this morning on the way from Circular Quay to Central. The message was so upbeat and pleasant. Most importantly, it got everyone’s attention and had everyone smiling. Thank you so much for giving me and the other passengers such a good start to the day. Please keep doing it.”
There are two messages for me in what happened that day. Firstly, when people are happy in their work it shows in what they do and say.
Secondly, the story highlights the benefits that can accrue from thanking people for something they’ve done, particularly when it’s not expected. Can you imagine the conversation that guard would have when he got home … “Guess what happened to me today – a customer actually thanked me!”
Bob Selden, author “Don’t: How using the right words will change your life”. Bob often asks the question “Have you thanked someone for what they’ve done today?”. He’d be very pleased to hear your “praise” stories at www.therightwords.co