A sudden hush fell over the group. A tense silence that suggested a ruthless predator was aprowl.

I stared on in disbelief, as he circled me, his prey, without ever moving from his seat;  snarling, as he marked his territory.

Rewind to 1 minute before:

Setting: Chamber of Commerce Networking Luncheon

We had all just sat down at the table. People were chatting and laughing and getting to know each other. I always try to sit with people I didn’t know so that I can expand my network and meet new people.

“So tell me about your golf tournament. What are you raising funds for?” queried a rather gregarious tablemate as he stuffed a wad of roll in his mouth, more butter than bun.

I beamed, proud of the work I was doing. “100% of proceeds will go to providing direct service to women and children who are victims of violence,” I began. “Services include, counselling, a food bank and clothing program; and services to help with basic needs so victims can focus on healing and moving forward.”

And then it came:

“If I have to hear another word about poor suffering women, “ he sneered, throwing his arms in the air, “I’m going to be sick!”

And then 14 expectant eyes were suddenly trained on me!

I was gob-smacked! I had never seen somebody behave so appallingly at a networking event in my life!

Through my mind whizzed, “what an arrogant buffoon! A misogynistic swine!”

But I could hardly say that out loud and sink to his level.

“That sounds like a great cause to support. I’ll bring a few customers and we’ll take a foursome. Sounds like it’ll be fun!” defused Len, the tablemate. Clearly a Natural Networker!

“We had a blast last year!” jumped in another.

And the tension was just as quickly defused, as it had been thrust on the air,

The rest of the lunch went by relatively uneventfully, but my mind was awhirl at his inexplicable behaviour. His inexplicable despicable behaviour!

He avoided my gaze for the next hour. And while people were polite to him, nobody really engaged him.

He tried to recover, to no avail. I heard him say that his name was James ,and that he was in the direct mail marketing business. Needless to say, when the event was adjourned, the business cards he’d distributed, lay ignored on the table.

He looked downcast. Maybe he was having a bad day, nonetheless, the damage had been done. And he’d done it to himself.

As he rose to leave, I blocked his escape route. I just could not let it go.

“I don’t want to argue with you,” he began, but I cut him off.

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy. ~ Saadi

“I just wanted to thank you, “I explained. “It’s a good reminder that not everybody is interested in everything I might have to say. You gave me a lesson and an opportunity to reflect and think about how I would handle that next time. So, thank you.

There was no need to remind him of his rudeness. He knew. And he stood there astonished at my startling speech.

He nodded and we each went our separate ways. I felt better.

I could have let him have it. I could have been rude. But that is not my character and that certainly is not my brand.

I know that every choice I make is a reflection of who I am and the brand I represent.

After that day, and at other networking events, I would always be sure to say hello. I discovered that we shared mutual friends who were freemasons, and I heard through the grapevine, that he’d been asking around about me.

Thereafter he always went out of his way to talk to me, or to introduce me to new connections. I grew to know a little about him and his wife, gleaning that they loved opera music. That Christmas I gave them a CD that I thought they would enjoy. And over time, surprisingly, we became friends and community partners.

Even more surprising he became a champion of the cause, joining in efforts to both fundraise and even to act as an advocate, speaking out and raising awareness about Violence Against Women and poverty issues.

We never spoke of his outburst. There was no need. He chose who he wanted to be.

One day, with surprising sincerity, he thanked me. He revealed that despite his hopes for her future, his daughter had become a social worker and was heavily involved with women’s issues. Through our connection, he was able to open up, reconnect with her, and renew their relationship.

What an amazing sequence of events, all from a little patience and kindness.

You never know the difference a little compassion can make, like ever-expanding ripples across the water, broadening its impact.

It’s not always easy to be patient with people. But it’s usually worth your while.

Please share any comments or stories.

Has your kindness caused a ripple effect?

Tagged with:
 

67 Responses to Ripple Effect Networking

  1. Betsy Cross says:

    Shelley,
    I’m moved by your ability to control yourself when others would have snapped! So powerful that later on in your relationship…probably the meant-to-be of your friendship with this man…you showed up as a gift to him with his relationship with his daughter! Love it!

    • Hi Betsy… it was not how I imagined it going, but it is how it went. Every moment is an opportunity, a choice.

      Sometimes I wish I had addressed his egregious transgression right there at the table. But I suppose if I had things would likely have ended differently.

      I do recall wondering at the time if the others at the table thought I should have called him out on it. But really, that would have made it uncomfortable for everyone.

      And yes, you’re right. The episode turned out to be a gift for everyone. : )

  2. Al says:

    Wow.  Thanks for sharing this Shelley.  It is truly amazing how things work out sometimes.  I know that I need to continue to practice patience and tolerance, and always remember to “pause when agitated or doubtful”.  Really a great lesson for us all. 

    Take CARE and thanks for all you do.

    Al

  3. Chris Edmonds says:

    You displayed great self restraint, Shelley – and expressed your core values in your response. What a delightful outcome – and great learnings!

    Cheers!

    C.

  4. Wonderful
    post Shelley!  We all need to realize
    that we are our ‘brand” and your wisdom, graciousness and self-control won over
    your enemy and made him your friend.  And
    the truth is he wasn’t your enemy – just a man who was in pain due to the
    fractured relationship with his daughter. 

     

    What a
    blessing to have been able to redeem the situation on so many levels.

    • Hi Bridget… yes, whatever his reason, he get to choose who he wants to be… and I still have my own choices to make. It’s not about being right, it’s about honouring yourself, honouring others, and finding resolution. : )

  5. KateNasser says:

    Hi Shelley,
    You handled that like a people-skills pro.  Perspective, insight, self-control, and as a result it put the spotlight completely on his rudeness.  Everyone at that table now knows what he is.

    What you said to him privately certainly works for the moment.  Since you did nothing wrong by sharing your zeal for the cause you were championing, I hope you will not hold back in the future.

    His networking skills are non existent. His bluntness stops people from seeing/hearing his message.   Honesty leaves a lasting memory; bluntness a lasting scar.

    Here are two short posts I wrote give more depth on this.
    ———-
    http://katenasser.com/leadership-teamwork-honesty-hurts-but-blunt-burns-forever/

    http://katenasser.com/7-steps-from-brutally-blunt-to-helpfully-honest/

    He could have said his thoughts in so many insightful and diplomatic ways yet he chose to attack. 

    Can you imagine the lasting impression he has made about his business skills on all those at that table?  Would you introduce him to your customers?  Would you refer him to others?

    He blew off steam and blew his networking opportunity.   Your demeanor was an authentic representation of your brand, your purpose, and your values.

    Warmest regards and thanks for sharing this story.
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    • Hi Kate… thank you for sharing your posts. I retweeted them as well. Authenticity is key. Every choice, every action represents our brand, Staying true to who you are and how you want to be perceived is so very important. Admittedly, it’s hard sometimes, but it is our choice. Thank you for visiting! : )

  6. Randy Thio says:

    Shelley,  thanks for the inspiration! 

    Oftentimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s almost impossible to remember that we have a choice in how we respond to people we interact with.  The natural inclination when faced with someone rude like the one in your post is either to fight back (get down to their level) or to alienate them.  Showing gratitude to someone like that is usually not a choice most people would make.  

    Thanks again for sharing your story, you’ve encouraged me & others to re-think our options when dealing with people who are less than complimentary.

    Cheers!

    • Thanks, Randy. I know it’s not always easy. Not always easy for me, either. But we can always feel what is a right or wrong response. We jsut need to make the conscious coice to take the high road. Thanks for stopping by! : )

  7. AJ Borowsky says:

    I don’t know that I would have had the restraint, either at the time or afterward, that you had. What’s most striking about the story, however, is that he seemed to make a transformation on his own without a lecture or scolding from you or anyone else. To his credit, he saw the reaction and the consequence and made a change based on it. Great story.

    • Hi AJ. I agree. It was astonishing that he made his own transformation (over time). He never apologised for the behaviour. I suspect he was too ashamed. Or maybe he forgot… I don’t know. But he responded with humanity because he was offered humanity. Thankfully,  I did not respond with what he had offered me. We each get to decide who we want to be. Thanks for visiting!  : )

  8. Inkscrblr says:

    I am not sure I could have handled it that way. But I love how you turned this negative into a positive. Also, you flipped him into a big believer and fan by the end. Amazing lesson here. Thanks.

    Paula
    @inkscrblr

    • Hi Paula, I have to say I surprised myself too. Had I responded right away at the table, I am not sure what would have come out of my mouth! Thankfully, the moment was defused and I had time to calm, reflect, and observe. I had no idea the result would be what it came to be. But I was true to myself and, well, he is a person,  and every person matters.

  9. Linda Joy says:

    Shelley,
    Your inspiring story shares so much of what life is all about. In your ability to stay grounded in the truth of who YOU are you were able to transcend ignorance with LOVE and allow him to discover his own life lessons. Not always easy I know, but the more we each stand in our truth and not get pulled into a reactive state the more we allow others the journey of transformation.  Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks, Linda… not always easy. But yes, you’re right. When you lead with love and are true to who you are, you offer your best. He made his choices after that. Leading by example ahs a ripple effect of it’s own. Thanks for visiting. : )

  10. Deeone Higgs says:

    This was wonderful Shelley!

    I loved the title, and the story really catered well to it. We often don’t take into consideration what “ripples” can come of our actions. I guess this happens because we can’t always see the immediate results occurring from the ripple. It may take days or years for everything to evolve, but they always evolve, don’t they? :) This was a beautiful example of why we she always think before we speak or act out. It can prove to be a bit difficult at times, but there’s usually a reward at the end of many of the decision we’ll have to make. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. :)

    • Thanks Deeone, you’re right. It can be difficult, but we must own our responses. Not that I haven’t made my fair share of mistakes or spoken when, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t.

      The ripple effect of their response resounds with us too.

      Thanks for stopping by. : )

  11. Alice says:

    Shelley, this is a great story, and way for you to model for others how not to match the level of someone who spoke from his triggered ego. Thank you for this great post! Namaste, Alice

  12. Simon Harvey says:

    Shelley,
    Nice post.Yes there always seems to be someone out there that sees what we do not and will (if we listen) offer value from their perspective, even if it comes by way of this gentlemans verbal brick.

    Obviously is takes poise and an open mind to see beyond his poor communication, and to what or who the message was about, or aimed at. As you found out patience and understanding usually wins out, compassion is a beautiful sponge to frustration (this gentlemans of his daughter) and it usually pays back in the long run. What we sow is what we reap, you sowed compassion and received back the same in the form of an advocate to a worthy cause. 

    I can only say as to kindness and the ripple affect, that for me it is part of life’s journey. If we radiate anger or mistrust then we are pushing compassion care and love away. But if we can live with compassion and love then we not only radiate it out, but also soften the blows of the bricks that will be thrown.

    There are probably few that in all honesty can say that we have never in our lives said something that we regretted as soon as it jumped out of our mouths, and the fact that you found out the truth as to this mans real character shows that if we can take the time to be compassionate and understanding, that not only do we gain, but also others do. This is the ripple affect and it goes out in all directions. This man will probably gain a lot of knowledge & awareness from such an event, and as you handled it so well he may well be using it as a tool in his own ventures in life as he grows. Compassion will rule the day, many thanks Shelley

    • Thank you, Simon. In all honesty, there were many other thoughts rambling around in my mind as I approached him. But he looked almost pitiful, and my reaction was compassion.

      Cruel or unkind words also have a ripple effect, and must be guarded against. One can have no idea the damage one can cause in a cavalier moment.

      The best route, of course, is to always be true to who you are, regardless of someone else’s behaviour. 

  13. Shelley, 

    WOW! You were right, I greatly appreciate this article. I so admire you for how you handled this situation and for your fundraising efforts for a cause that is true to my heart. 

    So proud of you for the person that you have made yourself to be. I know you are touching countless people by you being yourself. So glad to know you. :)

    • Thanks so much, Joanne. And I am so glad to know you. you have touched me with your own words, your strength, your courage, and by simply being you. I so admire you and all that you are. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. : )

  14. GettysburgGerry says:

    What a wonderful read, thanks for sharing Shelley. I think your reminder to yourself that everyone makes mistakes, was such a great gift to the gentleman as well as yourself.  If more people would allow people some leeway, and remember that mistakes like this are part of life, and none of us are above such things at times. We are all in this together, and being patient and caring towards one another is really a must….thanks for making my day….

  15. Enjoyed your article, nice demonstration of walking your talk.  I have discovered that as I face my own inner issues as they arise, as I deal with them and develop more and more compassion for myself, I’m less judgmental toward others.  The way people behave is never “about us”.  It is always about them and their perception of “how life is”.  I do my best to question myself, “why” if I catch myself judging others.  The world will be a better place when we all exercise more patience and kindness, which of course, takes discipline and courage.  Life’s a lesson :-)

    • Thank you, Valencia. Your comments are very insightful. People do respond from their own perspective – from their own story. Rarely, do we know that story, chapter, page.

      I did not know that that was how I was going to respond, but when I walked over, saw his own suffering,  how could I not offer compassion?

      It takes continued practice and awareness. Every opportunity presents a choice.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing my post. I really appreciate it. : )

  16. Daniel Buhr says:

    Beautiful post.  The line that stood out for me was, “He chose who he wanted to be.”  Often when someone behaves badly it comes from a deep hurt smoldering inside them, and efforts to blow away the smoke of their actions only fans those painful embers.  Instead of taking the easy road, a passionate response to the behavior, you courageously chose a compassionate response to the person.  You allowed your actions to come from who you are.  Without dignifying his offense you treated him with honor for who he is, and gave him the freedom to choose “who he wanted to be.”  There indeed is a power in this that will send forth ripples further than we could ever know.
    Thank you, Shelley, you moved me.

    • Thank you so much, Daniel. From your own observations, I can see that you are a man of great compassion. We should all treat each other with honour and respect and not because we expect it to be reciprocated, but because it’s the right thing to do.

      As you said, living with character will send forth powerful ripples that we will never see. 

      Thanks for visiting. I appreciate you.

  17. Paul Zelizer says:

    Shelley,

    GREAT example of the transformative power of compassion.  Thanks for the reminder!

  18. QJ says:

    I am humbled by your great writing ability. It’s not just that the story is brilliantly told, it’s what you made of it, literally and metaphorically. And 26 comments in two days! I think I need to take some lessons from you. You’ve certainly seduced me to want to read what you write and to find out more about you. Where are you located? As far as networking, per se, is concerned, it certainly is a great laboratory for the study of weird human behaviours. Thanks for directing me to your article. I look forward to a burgeoning relationship with you. Best …

    • Thank you QJ! That means a lot. I love sharing my words and weaving them into something meaningful that people will relate to & connect with. You are more than welcome to subscribe. I would absolutely love to have your comments and insights on my posts! I hope you’ll check out a few other posts, as well.

      I am in Ontario, Canada, Greater Toronto Area.

      I look forward to getting to know you better, as well. : )

  19. Ted Rubin says:

    Love this post. Take the high road always… seems to not only make you feel good, but pays off in many ways. Building a reputation for putting yourself out (whether as an individual or a brand), doing good for others without expectation of something directly in return from that person, and generally being nice will most definitely add to your life in so many ways. People will notice, talk about it, spread the word, and in general most will treat you better, do for you, and watch your back because of the way you treat people.
    “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

    • Hi Ted!

      I completely agree! We make our choices and choose to make a difference, choose to lead with heart, and choose to be true to who we want to be – not just for others, but for ourselves. It would have been easy to respond differently, and some say I should have. I guess I see it from the perspective that it doesn’t matter if I am right if being right doesn’t lead to resolution.

      I had no idea the results would ripple the way they did, but I am so glad I made the right choice and was rewarded.

      People NEVER forget how you made them feel!

      And you’ve made me feel great by stopping by.. so thank YOU!

  20. Cathy Wilke says:

    Beautiful reminder of what we all need to remember: “You never know the difference a little compassion can make, like ever-expanding ripples across the water, broadening its impact.” It’s amazing what can happen when we choose compassion and kindness as a response.  It allows the  other person the opportunity to do the same.  Thanks so much for sharing this–you inspire me!!! xoxo

  21. Jann England says:

    A moving sentiment to all that can and should be good in the world. You have captured the very essence of not only humility but graceful acceptance of another’s ignorance. Likewise it reminds us all how to behave accordingly.

  22. Rg says:

    Patience & kindness. In all things we do. Everyone should make it a way of life.

  23. Shelley Webb says:

    I just love the way you write – clearly you ARE a poet. 

    Great article and an idea to which I should aspire, but I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have thought to have handled it that way.  I probably would just have asked him why he felt that way (the nurse in me) and not made a big impact.

    Ripples of kindness are the new black.

    ~ the other Shelley

    • Thanks Shelley! I must admit I didn’t know I was going to handle it that way til it happened. As I sat there through the lunching stewing, that’s not at all how I imagined it would go. But I’m glad it did.

      I love that! Ripples of kindness are the new black!

  24. ProfileTree says:

    Really nice read – Hope I would do the same in a similar position…but its not always easy to do – or remember to do…very nice story..

  25. That WAS an amazing sequence of events Shelley!
    A cool story. :-)
    Lori

  26. Sharon says:

    Great Post  Shelley. I have been reminded lately of the principle of “do unto others” and your example is a great one of that principle. We all have the opportunity to treat people  “well”. Good thing you did! :)

  27. So blessed that you shared this with me on twitter! What an incredible story — it is simply beautiful how with grace the situation resolved and improved.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Rachel

    • Thank you, Rachel. Absolutely my pleasure and I am so glad you cam to visit. The story truly touched me and I wanted to share it with others. We all have the power to make a difference. : )

  28. Maura says:

    Wonderful and eloquent story.  Thanks!  

  29. David Fraser says:

    We get back what we put out, and all that. Great post, Shelley. :)

  30. Gary Loper says:

    Great story Shelly, and a tremendous reminder to not take people’s reaction to what we say personally.  Your conversation touched an emotional button for him, perhaps one he was not aware of consciously – which is vital for us to keep in mind we never know what the other person is dealing with  and will never be able to say the right thing to everyone every time.

    Loved the fact that you turned it all around and was able to reach out to him and learn.  A wise person is one who is willing to learn from everyone, and I believe that those people who bring us gifts of conflict or chaos are bringing us the biggest lesson we need to learn at the time.    

    Keep Growing  ; ) 

    • Thanks, Gary! We are all presented with opportunities where we can choose to take the high road or give into other reactions. It’s not always easy, but it’s always the right thing to do!

  31. How inspiring! Thanks for a great post Shelley! 

  32. Farouk says:

    great story shelly
    it highlights the power of choice, we are in control of our lives , we just need to make the right choices 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>