||Saturday, November 26, 2005
Influence, working lesson
Tonight I was at a restaurant with my family. It's one that we
frequent, having eaten there many times. It's a family friendly place.
There were seven of us and we were seated in the section with all the
big tables. Right next to us was a group of eight teens.
A few minutes after being seated there was a major disturbance from the
table of teens. It sounded much like what I imagine the rebel yell to
be. Loud, piercing, annoying. Everyone at all the nearby tables
stopped. We all stared in the direction of the sound. We all paused
briefly. Then, as if it never happened, we all when back to our
conversations, not thinking much more about it.
That is, until it happened about about 10 minutes later. I asked Jared,
my son-in-law who was sitting closest to the teens, which one was
making that awful noise. "It's about three of them," was his response.
I sat there for a few minutes starting to get myself worked up and then
decided to go get the manager.
I explained what had happened, twice, and asked that if it happened
again he confront these young trouble makers. He apologized for the
problems and said he would deal with it immediately, not wanting to
wait until it happened again.
I don't know what was said, but right after the manager left their
table the teens were pointing in my direction and whispering back and
forth. I was wondering if I'd done the right thing. And I began to
wonder what was the right thing to do. How could I have influence on
I decided that buying there dinner was the answer. So I signaled their
waiter and told him that I wanted him to bring me their check when they
were done. He came back twice, the second time with the manager,
to make sure he understood my intentions. Then, as the teens found out
what was happening, two of them came over and talked to me. They did
not want me to pay. They had been in the wrong and felt embarrassed.
It gave me a chance to tell them that I realized what they did was
annoying, but that I also realized that they are kids and sometimes can
do stupid things. Also, it gave me an opportunity to say that there was
no harm done and that I hoped they had a good holiday season and that
the next time maybe they could do something nice for somebody else.
When the other teens at the table found out, there were a lot of smiles
and all of them came over to shake my hand and wish me a good holiday
season. It really didn't cost me all that much, and changed the whole
feeling. And, to be sure, this was an approach that I've not tried
I don't know what long term affects this will have on these teens. But
I have a greater appreciation for analyzing a situation and thinking
about it in terms of the outcome that I want. And in this case, the
best way to influence these kids was not to yell, not to pursue
retribution, not be be angry. The best influence was to return
something bad with something that was good. Hey, and what can be better
than enjoying a good meal with friends and then finding out that
someone has picked up the tab...........
© 2005 Jim Stewart
Last Update: 12/14/05; 10:59:08 AM