Acknowledging is stepping out, honoring someone with what’s important to them, and creating a connection. One of my favorite examples of this occurred at one of our Halloween celebrations in our home. My wife, Sue, and I love Halloween. We do it big. We have a fog machine, special lighting, a graveyard with tombstones in the front yard, scary music playing inside and out, and mannequins dressed up with masks along our walkway. Plus, we don’t give out bite-size candy bars. If a kid can make it through the scary walk up to the doorway, he or she gets a real treat: a king-size candy bar.
The kicker is that Sue and I really dress up. Not just masks, but the full Hollywood treatment. I usually look like some type of flesh-eating zombie, and Sue looks like the scariest witch that you’ve ever seen. She channels the Wicked Witch of the West right out of The Wizard of Oz. More than a couple of kids have refused to walk up to the house, even with their parents’ encouragement. Some of the neighborhood kids who are now high school students still stop in on Halloween and tell us how other kids had dared them to go to the “Witch’s House.”
One Halloween the doorbell rang. We opened the door and went into our act. There was an entire family of Latino children at the door. They all jumped back as the door opened. They slowly edged forward as I began asking their names and what they were disguised as and then passed out the king-size candy bars. All the kids moved forward with the exception of one little girl who was just petrified. I guess we had laid on the scary act a bit too thick.
Sue speaks Spanish and said to the little girl, “Hola, como esta usted? Como te llamas?” (Hello, how are you? What is your name?) The little girl began to smile, and the two of them started speaking Spanish. The little girl finally approached the door to get her treat.
Sue “Nice Biked” the little girl. Sue acknowledged the girl’s fear and honored her by speaking her language. Sue connected through all the witch makeup to bring a sweet smile to the girl’s face.
At that point I said, “Mi aerodeslizador esta lleno de anguilas!” The kids all looked at me oddly, said thank you, and danced away. I had just shared with them the only complete Spanish sentence I know, one that I remembered from Spanish 1 class, “My hovercraft is full of eels.”
If you want to truly connect with people, step away from your table, your office, or your position and acknowledge people with your attention, time, and service.
NICE BIKE, Scary Sue.