Improve their mood… and yours
It was a few years ago now when I learned this surprising way to improve their mood, that is, the mood of anyone a bit grumpy in your midst.
I’d planned to go out with a friend to a local café. I was a little bit grumpy that day (that frustrating feeling when you can’t work something out – I was stuck on a section of my PhD). I was hoping that being out with my friend would lift my mood.
I’d just been reading about Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden and build theory of positive emotions. It goes something like this: positive emotions not only make us feel good but they also broaden our thinking that leads to new, novel and varied thoughts and actions. Perfect!
I’m going out…
My mood will lift…
I’ll have fun with my friend…
My thinking will broaden…
I’ll come unstuck!
To be honest though, I just wanted to forget the studies and have a good time.
The Grumpy Waiter
We walked to the café, found a table and sat down. I was starting to feel a little bit better (some exercise, a change of environment, time with my friend). That was until we had an interaction with the waiter. He was in quite a mood. A mega-grump!
In a split second I did a quick internal check… no I’m not projecting. I may be a bit grumpy, but that waiter is really grumpy!
And I thought to myself,
- “I don’t come here to pay for grumpy”.
- “I really don’t need help in the grumpy department today” (emotions are contagious).
- “I don’t think I’ll come back here again in a hurry”.
After the grumpy waiter took our order, I turned to my friend and unhappily said, “Boy, is he grumpy”.
But she didn’t buy into my negativity.
She said, “Yes he is grumpy”. Then she opened my world.
She said, “You watch. I’m going to make him smile before we leave.”
It’s fun, it’s free and surprisingly fun!
I couldn’t help but smile. My mood lifted. Each time the waiter came up to us I’d watch her try and make him smile. With nothing fancy. No clever jokes. No witty repartee. Just good, old fashioned, friendly conversation.
It was surprisingly fun.
He had her working very hard. He wasn’t in the mood for chitchat. On the third attempt though, she succeeded.
The grumpy waiter got lucky. He smiled! I hope his day continued to improve.
But really it was me who got lucky. It’s not often that someone opens your world. Making the grumpy waiter smile is a great pay-it-forward kind of game – with anyone who’s grumpy. It’s fun, it’s free, and everyone ends up in a better mood. That’s broadening and building positive emotions all right!
Next time you get a chance, I recommend you try it. And if you do, let me know how you go.