Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.
The man looked up from what he was reading as we approached him. I didn’t know him but I urgently needed his help – we both did. I gave him a smile and was about to speak when Usman barged in front of me and spoke in a very commanding tone. Apparently, he was in dire need of a lesson in manners and how to approach strangers. He blurted out without a word of courtesy.
“Which of you does the photocopying here?” He asked with all authority.
We were inside the Supreme Court Complex and it is well known that there are no business centers in here. The guard who directed us to this particular office made it quite clear that we had to beg them.
The man was apparently taken aback by the rude authority with which Usman spoke. We were both well dressed and he probably estimated that we were some kind of big shots but still, he was not pleased with the manner of approach. He answered hesitantly pointing into one of the inner offices.
When I recovered from the shock of Usman’s brusque approach, I realized that he stood a good chance of rubbishing my opportunity to get help here. I quickly swung into action by first of all, dissociating myself from him. As Usman strode majestically into the office in the direction the man pointed, I slowed down. I was certain he was going to meet failure.
“Good morning sir.” I said gently, flashing my most winning smile. I spread the same greeting around the office to the other staff present. The returned my greeting cheerfully.
“Good morning sir.” He replied pleasantly but was a bit surprised.
“Aren’t you with that other man?” He asked.
“No. Not at all.” I replied, denying Usman instantly. “We just came in together.”
“Oh, ok. How can I help you sir?” He asked with a smile.
“I was wondering if you or any of your colleagues here could help me with some printing and photocopy.”
Just as I was speaking, I saw Usman coming out of the office and he wasn’t looking too pleased. He avoided everyone in the outer office, myself inclusive and walked out of the office with his head held high.
Pride! I shook my head. As he left the office, it was then I realised that some of the other staff, particularly a pretty lady had been watching our deeply contrasting exchange.
“That man has no manners. No one will help him with that kind of attitude.” She remarked. She rose from her seat and came towards me and extended her hand.
“I’m Mary.” She said, introducing herself. After I shook her hand and told her my name, she said. “Follow me.” She led me into the office where Usman had just left.
“Good morning madam.” I said cheerfully to the woman sitting behind the computer.
“Good morning sir.” She replied.
“Please give this gentleman all the assistance he needs.” Mary said.
“Who was that idiot that left here just now?” She asked heatedly. “He just came here and tried to boss me around. I walked him out!” She said.
“Don’t mind him. Life is going to be very difficult for him.” The man I approached initially said as he joined us in the office.
“People don’t realise manner of approach determines the assistance you get.” Mary said.
That was how they told me to relax on one of the comfortable chairs while they did all the running around for me. I buttered them up some more with pleasant words and we shared a couple of laughs before I bid them farewell and went on to handle my business.
I met Usman at the foot of the stairs. He looked confused as he contemplated what to do. His only other option now was to leave the complex, head back into the City to do his printing and photocopy and come back and stand on the queue again. He looked surprised as he saw me arranging my printed copies.
“They did it for you?” He asked in shock.
“Of course. Manner of approach my friend; your manner of approach was very wrong.” I said.
He shrugged. “Don’t mind those people. They are wicked.” He said contemptuously. I shook my head and decided not to pursue the conversation any further. His was a lost cause.
Written by Malcolm O. Ifi.
Photo credits: Upperedge