“Why do I think you are a much better person than how you are sounding right now?”

Venkataraman Subramanyan

Singapore

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I am struck by how simple influencing skills can bring about significant changes to people's lives.

It was my second trip to Central Eastern Europe and I was returning home via Dubai. Dreading the long layover, I headed to the Emirates counters to take a chance for an upgrade – Lo and Behold, they upgraded me to First Class. Being my first time ever, I tiptoed into the First Class lounge and plonked myself on a plush sofa and started pretending to be busy.

Looking around I could see a few people scattered around the lounge, from various nationalities. After a few minutes, a gentleman sitting close by, started talking loudly on his cellphone. After a few minutes, I could sense that a lot of people were getting very annoyed with his loud voice – so I decided to walk over to him to let him know that his phone calls were disturbing everyone else in the lounge, and perhaps he could consider keeping his voice low.

God knows what got over him, he walked over to my seat and started yelling at me in a mixture of English and his native tongue. For a moment, I wanted to be instinctual, but decided to be intentional. I told him “Why do I think you are a much better person than how you are sounding right now?”. It took him some time to register what I had said. Looking very confused, he asked me to repeat the question. I empathetically and smilingly said: “Why do I think you are a much better person than how you are sounding right now?”.

This brought out the most amazing reaction in him, which I will never forget. He folded his palms together and asked for forgiveness. I was very quick to say it is all right. Then the most extraordinary thing happened – he sat on the floor, and not on the sofa, till I left that lounge. I could sense the hurt his ego had caused, and saw how he was making up for it. I want to dedicate this story to this Middle Eastern gentleman, who allowed his humility to triumph over his ego.

As I reminisce about this incident, I am struck by how simple influencing skills can bring about significant changes to people’s lives. I am sure that there are many such incidents and anecdotes out there that would have transformed others and helped people acheive more.

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