26 August 2011

Peter's story: “May I help you, m’sieur?”

I once sat in a five-star restaurant in Paris, and watched a waiter working. He moved as if he were on skates, gliding so smoothly, with such balance, that it was a pleasure to watch him. As he put the food down on each table, he said something to the people sitting there. Each diner's face would light up as the waiter spoke. I watched the other waiters, and no one seemed to be having the same impact on the people they were serving. I caught this waiter's eye, and he came over to my table at once.

"May I help you, m'sieur?"

"I know this sounds like a strange question," I said, "but I've been watching you, and you seem to be having a huge impact on the people in this room. What are you saying to them?"

He smiled. "As a young man, when I first came to work in a fine restaurant, I was instructed by the headwaiter to say 'Bon appétit' after I served each table. Because I was in such a rush, I would usually just put the plates down, repeat, 'Bon appétit,' and leave quickly. One day I noticed that there was one second, after I put the plate down, when the diners would look up at me. I found that in that moment, I could look into their eyes, say, 'Bon appétit,' and mean it. I could tell them without words, 'I wish that you have a good meal. I want you to be happy.' Through this simplest gesture, I could make them feel wonderful. It took only a moment to do this, to put the plate down in front of them as if I had cooked it myself. I went from serving food to serving a sacrament. I am the most fortunate of men, m'sieur. What an honor it is to host a meal, to bring nourishment to people, to offer things that brought them joy and delight!"

That's where I learned that with the right intention, you can transform anything into the opportunity to give a gift.

via Meyers, Peter; Nix, Shann (2011-07-26). As We Speak (Kindle Locations 180-195). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.

The point here is that intention is the key to the kingdom when it comes to communication. Communication is sharing a gift with another person. The gift if yourself and your good intention for their wellbeing, health and life. In the Hebrew Bible such an act is called chesed. In the New Testament it is called agape. In the Buddhist tradition it is called compassion. In the business world it is called gravitas. Get some and use it. The world will be a happier place. So will you.


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