You Often Get What You’re Looking For

Yesterday, Gail and I were traveling to San Antonio, Texas, where I was scheduled to speak. As we sat at the gate waiting to board, the gentleman sitting next to me was engaged in a phone conversation.

A Woman Looking Through a Magnifying Glass - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/izusek, Image #3551768

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/izusek

Apparently, he had just had a negative exchange with a TSA agent. He bellowed into the phone, “Yea, you pay an idiot ten bucks an hour, pin a badge on his chest, and he thinks he is God.”

Of course, in his story, he was an innocent victim; the TSA agent was the villain. He recounted several similar stories and finally concluded, “They’re all a bunch of morons, I tell ya—MORONS!”

Interestingly, Gail and I had just come through the same TSA screening line. We greeted the agents cheerfully, and they replied in like manner.

After Gail was cleared by the first agent, he looked at my credentials and asked, “Are you related to Gail?” I smiled and said, “Man, I wish!” We both chuckled, and he waved me through with a big smile.

Right before we were scanned, we encountered a second agent, who was also polite, professional, and even friendly. I thanked him, and he replied, “You have a great day, sir.”

As I listened to the man next to me, I thought, I don’t think I have ever had a negative experience with a TSA agent. I’m not saying they don’t happen. The TSA has to recruit from the human race, so I’m sure a few bad apples slip through.

But my experiences have always been neutral to very positive. (Okay, except in Newark, where they can be a little bossy.) I, for one, am grateful for the job they are doing. I try to express it frequently.

What I am saying is that you often get what you look for. If you think TSA agents are idiots, then your mind looks for evidence to support your conclusion. (It’s amazing how the mind works that way.)

On the other hand, if you believe that TSA agents are just fellow citizens, doing a tedious, often thankless job in order to keep us all safe, your mind will also look for evidence to support your conclusion.

Given the fact that we haven’t had another terror incident since 9/11, I think they are doing a pretty great job. Regardless, you are likely to get what you’re looking for. The choice is yours.

By the way, if you travel a lot, you might want to subscribe to the TSA’s blog. They do a good job of explaining the rationale behind many of their procedures.

Question: How do you see those you encounter throughout the day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    This is something that I have intentionally worked on (along with help from the Holy Spirit) over the past few years. In my part-time job as a pharmacist, I see incredible abuses of the medical system (Medicare and Medicaid). For many years I carried a very bad attitude about these people and treated them as less than those who have private insurance or pay cash for their medications. One day God took me to the woodshed over my attitude and I remembered that Jesus died for them just like he did for me. It was a humbling moment.  Now, I am very conscious that I may be the only “Jesus” some of those people will ever see and it is up to me to represent Him well. Sure, people still abuse the system, but it is not my job to change their hearts about that. My job is to be salt and light and show them the love of Jesus!

    • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

      On a side-note, I run a retail pharmacy. My comments about retail are about some of the same exact things you mention here. 

      So many people walk up to my counter convinced that I am rude, ugly and don’t care about them. I see that as even more of opportunity to, as you said, be salt and light!

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Chris, there are truly a myriad of opportunities in the pharmacy to be Jesus. Bless you!

        • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

          Thank you Leah!

        • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

          I agree!!!

      • Joe Lalonde

        Chris, I think that experience is quite common in the retail industry. The only thing that can be done is to change one opinion at a time. Keep it up!

        • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

          thanks joe!

          • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

            Yes, Keep up the positive attitude!

            jim

      • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

        Thats great that you can do this Chris. Most people use it as an attack and not as an opportunity to share.

        Jim

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Wow! Great, convicting point Leah. 

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Thanks, Sundi Jo. It has truly been hard won wisdom and I still don’t get it right 100% of the time. I’m trying, though.

        • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

          we’re all a work in progress. 

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Leah, I really like what you said about Jesus taking you to the woodshed. He’s done that with me many times. Because I’m so stubborn, He’s had to remind me about the same ole same ole more than once in the woodshed.  He’s never had to hit me with a 2″x4″, though, usually I get my bloody noses because I’ve stumbled and fallen. Thank you for putting a smile on my face this morning!!!

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Ummm, I’ve had the 2 x 4 over the top of my head. It usually comes in the form of a major disaster or crisis. Thankfully they are swinging my way less and less, Gina.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      In situations like yours, and when I was a pastor I ran into people looking for a quick handout, I know that my pride told me, “You don’t want to be conned.” At some point, I recognized, conned or not, I needed to respond as you’ve suggested–as God’s child and not God’s enforcer. Thanks for sharing.–Tom

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Tom, it is hard, isn’t it? When you see so much abuse and people just being plain sorry. It is hard, but God has helped me try to see them through Jesus’ eyes.  Bless you.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Leah,

      I see the same abuse of government programs that are designed to help those that are down get back up. They abuse really makes you sad and upset that this is allowed.

      jim

  • Ed Chinn

    Excellent!  David caught a profound truth about God and humans when he wrote, “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.” Psalm 18:25-26.

    Someone said, “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great verse and GREAT quote.

    • Sherri

      Ed I think this is what makes people suspicious of others at times. As a social worker I see this  a lot. If you are generous and kind for no reason except that you can be, people don’t trust it or you. People who give the best of themselves see, and often get in return, the best in others. People who are generally dishonest or mean or selfish expect and see only that in others.  Doesn’t it make you wonder how much we could change the world if we expected good things from people? That might be what it takes to make them see that there IS good in them – they are made in the image of God. That’s life changing for anyone!

    • Anonymous

      Your quote is precisely the reason I’m such a fan of personality profilers like DISC. It simply helps me understand others. This way no matter how grating they may be, I can work with them. Most people have good intentions. They just approach things differently. Understanding that is powerful.

    • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

      Ed, I love the quote, “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.”

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, we see things through our own perspective.  We see people as we are… we project on other people our own flaws and attitudes.

    • Bill Horn

      That IS a great quote!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      great quote!

      jim

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    It’s true. There is well know saying that “We don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are. “ We often fall prey to this weakness easily in our life. Over a period of time, we tend to slump into our personal prejudices effortlessly. We need to be wise enough to overcome this demeaning attitude. Mike! Your post today reminds me that our perceptions do matter in our life to a greater extent. As used in computer jargons “What you see is what you get.” So, let us set right our minds first. Everything else will fall in place subsequently.

  • Johnstonteam

    I’m not thrilled with the whole TSA screenings, BUT, I will have to say my encounters with the agents have been very similar.  Treat them with respect and they seem to respond in kind.  I don’t go looking for trouble and they seem to be kind. 

    I think some people are PPP.  They want to find something to be peeved at. 

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I think the key phrase here might be, “You get what you prepare for.” My limited experiences with the TSA have been rather difficult because I wasn’t prepared. After going through the line I realized that some things would have been helpful…
    1. Wear slip on shoes
    2. Don’t take a laptop or laptop bag
    3. Put everything in one carry-on bag

    You have blogged about optimizing your carry on bag, using a MacBook Air (which will fit in the carry on), and also buying a good pair of shoes. All three of these I’m sure helped you have more pleasant experiences that the average unsuspecting person like myself. Next time I fly, I will take your advice and prepare accordingly.

    • Mxyzptlk

      I’ve had to travel with two laptops. And I don’t wear slip-on shoes.  But as you say, they key is being prepared. In my case it’s having a routine that gets the shoes, belt and jacket off, metal objects out of my pocket, and both laptops out, all put into three bins, and in order so that when they come out the other side I can repack. I don’t try to get my shoes and belt on until I can walk to the nearby seat (at least they have those now). It keeps the line moving. 

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Wow… two laptops… yikes! As you say, the secret is to keep the line moving. I find my iPad travels much better than my laptop. I can stow it in an outside pocket on my carry-on and it goes through without problem. I always take any change out of my pockets before getting in line. Getting some pants that work without a belt and slip-on shoes would really make things easier.

        I really feel for the people traveling with little children, with their strollers and the assorted liquids that accompany them. Patience will certainly be a virtue!

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          I am so glad that I haven’t traveled with my small children yet… I’m dreading the day when that happens.

          • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

            Robert, I travel a lot and some times it is positive and sometimes it can be a challenge. I think your influence as a parent will come through.

            Jim

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      John,

      I showed that video to my wife and now she does her best to copy the technique. I can tell you it has made traveling easier.

      Jim

  • http://www.brainwads.net/drewhawkins Drew Hawkins

    I would totally agree with that. I know TSA workers have to deal with hundreds and even thousands of people every day that hate security and sometimes hate them. It’s hard work dealing with the general public, most of which have a negative perception of you. I try and keep that in mind when I’m going through those screenings. I know my positive attitude may be one of the few smiles they may get that day. 

  • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    I wholeheartedly agree. I work in retail and am often receiving the type of comments the guy on the phone was expressing. Often I will be approached with a wildly negative attitude and all of these expectations of what a customer thinks their experience is going to be about. 

    I am grateful for my job and I am their to love on and serve people. I remind myself daily to give it my best and not allow someone’s crazy expectations about what their experience is not going to be to dictate how I act.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Chris, several years ago my driver’s license was rejected by one state because the state I moved from had my license tagged for lack of insurance. I’ve never had 1 day without auto insurance so I was angry before I even called my former state. The guy on the phone disarmed me by simply saying, “I hear you, ma’am. I completely understand and feel your frustration about all this. It’s happened to me, too.”

      Knowing that he empathized with me melted all my frustration away. He acknowledged my feelings and my pain so we could both put that behind us and move on to solve the problem.

      So often people in customer service have to face irate and difficult people because something has gone wrong. If that customer service rep would just acknowledge the customer’s pain (not deal with it, handle it, or push it aside), then more than half the difficult situation is diffused.

      Empathy is better than sympathy because a person doesn’t care if you are sorry for them or not, but if you get up and sit on their side of the table, that is when problem solving begins.

      The same holds true for an angry customer. Acknowledge it isn’t the CSR’s fault the policy broke down, the mail is slow, or data entry got the numbers wrong. Once anger is directed correctly, then the pot doesn’t boil over.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        I think it would take a gifted person to be a customer service rep, because they have to deal with the people who are having problems or who are unhappy.  Rarely do they get to deal with a happy customer.

      • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

        Great insight. You are right too, it can easily swing both ways.

      • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

        I agree! Great points!

        Jim

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    A wise therapist called Yvonne Dolan said, ‘The questions we ask shape the answers our clients give us’. 
    Your fellow traveller might want to think of another version of Yvonne’s line, ‘The emotions we exhibit to others shape the responses they give us’.  

  • http://smallgroupbooks.com Ryan K

    Man, it’s easy for me to expect respect before giving it but that doesn’t help much. I struggle with this more on the phone when you feel removed from the other party. It’s easy then to get upset or angry instead of setting a loving mood. Thanks for the post!

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    Michael, I agree with you that most TSA agents do their job and a good attitude by all involved helps the process. However, I completely disagree that the TSA is the reason we have not had further attacks. Virtually all prevention has come through intelligence, not searches.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think there should be some security at airports. We could just be spending our money better on strategic efforts rather than trying to search everything.

    And yes, if you have a nasty attitude, you are likely to be profiled as a suspect.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I don’t think that you could say that all prevention has come through intelligence.  One could say that it’s because we have such stringent security at our airports that terrorists must come up with more creative/elaborate plans, which are caught by intelligence.

      If we had lesser security at airports, a simpler plan would be easier to execute.

  • http://twitter.com/ntzschsdwnfll Patrick Frownfelter

    Honestly, I’ve been trying pretty hard lately to see my coworkers as people who do the same menial job I do for the same low pay, but it’s pretty tough.  Working in a hospital, people tend to complain a lot about one another quite a bit, and its easy to get sucked into that (only, instead of complaining about the rest of the hospital, I complain about my manager and the people I work with in my department).  It’s easy to be snide when everyone else tells you how good a job you do and how everyone else is lazy.  You start to believe it after too long.  All the same, it does me no good to be a hard worker if I get arrogant and mean about it too.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    Michael,

    Right on.

    A smile and some love can change a person in a second.

    A TSA agent, clerk, drive-thru worker, teller, you name the position… 90% will make an immediate emotional and physical shift to the positive with a little joy from us.

    (Though I’ve found law enforcement difficult to sway with a smile after juggernauting past the speed suggestion. I’m telling ya, they take those numbers pretty serious.)

    • Joyce Harback

      Your juggernaut remark made my day. Thanks for the laugh.

  • http://www.jondale.com Jon Dale

    Mike, I couldn’t agree me.  When I was younger I was probably more like the guy on the phone…pretty focused on myself…and pretty sure I was right about everything (and others were wrong).  Going through life with that perspective I constantly found myself experiencing bad customer service.

    However my perspective really changed the day my wife overheard a phone call I had with a customer service agent…I was reading the gal the riot act over something her company (not her) had done or some policy I didn’t like.  After the phone call Amy said to me, “You’re a nice guy, you’d never treat someone like that in person, why do it over the phone.”  She was right, and I was wrong.  Ever since then I’ve completely changed the way I interact with people…I try to remember that this is someones wife and mother…that they’re just doing their job…and I go out of my way to treat them with respect.

    A funny thing happened…most companies customer service improved overnight. 

    It’s not that I don’t have bad experiences any more…it’s that I’m not expecting them to happen to me, so they seldom do.  In fact, I’m now constantly looking for amazing customer experiences to share with others.

    Over the years, customer service has become a real passion of mine.  So much so that when we formed our latest company I stuck up my hand and said, I want to be in charge of customer service.

    Now, every day, my team deals with tons of customers and 99.9% of the interactions are wonderderful…because we expect them to be.  Every once in a while somebody like the old me calls…and we kill them with kindness…it’s a lot of fun. 

    I wonder what would have happened to the old me if I’d called Zappos or Moolala?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment, Jon. I also appreciate your vulnerability.

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    it’s the same with anyone who has done you wrong in your mind.  suddenly everything they do is evidence that they are what you’ve now defined them to be.  something little, something that you would be probably ignored or overlooked is now blown out of proportion in your mind. no matter what they do, it won’t be right, because you’ve already decided who they “are” to you.  suddenly you think everything they do is against you. and it changes the relationship. and it changes you.  i’ve found that if i take my complaints to God instead of airing my frustrations out for all to hear, than i usually walk away from my conversation with peace. because i’ve told the only one who can do anything about it anyway.

  • Abraham Niehaus

    Put another way, what you are describing is a very common type of error in logical thinking called “confirmation bias”. Our brains are wired to constantly try to confirm what we already believe to be true.

    Many of the research results we hear of nowadays are actually of low quality because of this very same reason. The researchers have a specific idea in their minds that they then try to proof by creating a project with biased methodology. To make things worse, if they can’t proof something to be true, then often they’ll rather not publish their results which lead to even more bias!

    In everyday life however, it may be worthwhile to approach life more subjectively. But only if we keep focusing on the positive!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dick-Powell/1602757566 Dick Powell

    People generally get what they give. If you are grumpy – the response is grumpy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WMMSVF4NHYCIIFT6YDJRN7HKBQ Gary

    Ouch, you really hit it over the fence today.  I have never had a bad experience with a TSA agent either, but then I don’t work with them everyday.  I have made it a habit of looking for the negative a co-worker.  Thanks for the reality check, so maybe it is not all them (sad smile) and maybe I need to focus on the good in their work.  Thanks for the sharpening today.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more! In similar fashion, assuming the worst about people is incredibly harmful. It blinds you, confuses matters and prevents solutions from occurring. I’ve found assuming the best about others has paid off far more than I’ve been let down.

  • http://idoneousurl.tumblr.com/ VerecundAmaranth

    Great
    article ! People who look for negatives, will never be disappointed in
    finding many. Same with those seeking out the positives.  The choice affects our overall view of life, way we approach it, way we treat others, what we believe we can even accomplish.

     

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry to say sometimes I am like the man on the phone. But your talk was a wake-up call and should be thinking of the person who is doing the job and what I would be like if I was doing their job.
     
    Thank you for your thoughts for today. It is all in our mind. What we think is what we will do.

  • Anonymous

    I flew recently and had a very similar experience. I smiled and greeted everyone during the screening in a friendly way and they reciprocated. It seems that if I start my day with a good attitude, most things turn out positive.

    My 21 year old son who challenges me to a better person told me he tries to see people as God sees them. That will change your perspective.

    Pierce
    MarrsCoaching.com

    • Joe Lalonde

      Pierce, that’s true. The way you treat others is normally the way you’ll be treated in return.

  • Murphytina

    In my teens and 20’s I used to be the “victim”. That is all I knew When I encounter rude or angry people now I show them compassion (within healthy boundaries).

    It is hurting people who hurt others. It takes an experience greater than their hurt to help them learn to heal.

  • Hs88 6791

    I would agree, as an International business
    traveler, you treat the badge with the respect it deserves and you get the same
    back.

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com Cynthia Herron

    I think it all goes back to attitude. Some folks would have a bad one even if you served ‘em filet mignon on a silver platter.

  • George Petak

    Thank you, Michael, for this morning’s practical application of an important Biblical principle:  We are challenged, instructed, (or may I say commanded) to put on the mind of Christ.  (Phil 2)
    I understand and acknowledge the utter depravity of mankind and my own heart apart from the grace, mercy, and forgiveness available to us through the grace of God in Christ Jesus.  For that I am eternally grateful — while challenged to pray for those who have not yet personally experienced the love God desires for all of us to know…TSA agents and irate and inconsiderate travelers alike.

  • http://twitter.com/johnlambert John Lambert

    In my line of work, people often say that the people we are trying to reach are too hard or too stubborn to our message, but we choose to believe that they are ready and willing to hear what we have to say.  Therefore we have to be the ones to change so that we can be more effective in sharing.  I think this is what you are saying as well.  I can’t change the TSA agent, but I can change my own perspective and many times, more than not, the other person will respond positively.  Thanks for the insights

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Mike, I couldn’t agree more with your observations. Most of the time, what we’re doing is holding up a mirror to the people with whom we interact. They tend to respond with the same emotions and attitude that we demonstrate. It’s not always easy, and I have to confess that I don’t always succeed, but generally  it works. Kindness in, kindness out.

  • Todd Sandel, LMFT

    This concept is one of the key truths we use in the field of psychology everyday with clients to help them replace negative cognitive beliefs with the truth very much in line with Rom 12 Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  What you’re describing is a real clinical concept in psychology called “confirmation bias”.  Try applying this concept to the last argument you had with your spouse and most likely you will see confirmation bias at play to some degree.

    Great word, Michael.  Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like that term, “confirmation bias.” I’m going to research it a bit more. Sounds intriguing.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    Michael,

    I think your post is a great reminder that we need to be treating people the way we would like to be treated.  A friendly greeting and a smile can go a long way towards making someone’s day.  And it’s contagious.  We can all do our part to start the momentum as we interact with others who may be facing challenges far beyond our wildest dreams.  Thanks for getting the ball rolling with your post this morning!

  • Sozburn

    I am a general jurisdiction trial judge and I handle many criminal cases, frequently involving the entry of guilty pleas, as well as jury trials. As each one appears before me I try to discern what led him or her to do what they did. They must bear responsibility for their actions but in sentencing them I make it a point to explain the sentence, that is, punishment but also an effort to address the reason for their crime (drug addiction, anger, etc.) In doing this I recognize that even the worst criminal has value in the eyes of God and that by seeing them in that light I am hopefully (with God’s guidance and wisdom) helping them. This also keeps me from becoming discouraged and cynical as I deal with these cases day in and day out. I was put in this position by Him and only by depending on Him am I able to see these sad people as He sees them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank God for people like you in these positions!

  • Julie

    Great column, Mr. Hyatt. How we perceive others is a choice. I had a short conversation with a husband and wife at an event. The wife was pleasant, the husband curt and one might say rude. He walked away from the conversation and the wife apologized. I said, “I’m not offended. He’s an introvert and hates crowds, doesn’t he?” Her expression went from worried to relieved. “He is. Thank you for realizing that. He gets super stressed in these situations.” 

  • http://twitter.com/javerlin74 Jason Verlinde

    Your post today hits home.  Living in Michigan we travel to Canada on a semi frequent basis and have to deal with Customs.  I hear horror stories about Customs but have never myself had a bad experience.

    Follow instructions, be polite, answer questions, Yes sir, No sir, Thank you.

    Great advice not only for dealing with authority (TSA/Customs) but dealing with everyone in your life!

  • http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com Stacy S. Jensen

    Thank you. I also have a neutral to positive experience with the screeners. I know they have a job and I want to help them, so I can get to my gate. They get a bad rap much of the time.

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    My wife and I are the same way. When we enter the TSA line we are friendly, try to be thankful, and smile as often as possible. Traveling is already a beating for so many people and I can’t imagine the kinds of stresses are on a TSA job.

    There are a few bad apples, but I can tell a lot of them don’t like doing the things they have to do (then again, I have seen one like it too much…). 

    Are they securing us from another terror attack? Maybe, maybe not. Will my indignation at what they are doing change anything? Certainly not.

  • Mxyzptlk

    I fly out of Newark and that bossiness you mention is just being in the N-yawk sphere…it’s rough around the edges but not mean.

  • Mark Clark

    Thanks, Mike.  Great restatement of “you reap what you sow.”  I make it an effort to ask myself this question whenever I am dealing with others–“How is their day going and what can I do to make it better?”  The highest praise I have ever received from this came from my twenth-something daughter who recently said, “Dad, my cashier was obviously having a BAD day.  Her face and attitude reflected it.  So I did what I always saw you do: I smiled, made eye contact, and asked her to take a deep breath.  After looking at me for a moment or too like I had two heads, she took a deep breath, slowly let it out, and smiled.  By the time she was handing me my change her eyes had changed.  Light was shining where there had been storm clouds.  Best of all, she looked at the next customer in line, made eye contact and smiled! See Dad, I really did pay attention!  I always saw you kill’em with kindness.”  So thankful for her sweet spirit and humbled by her attentiveness.  I hate to think what else she may have learned by observation!

  • http://www.producewithpassion.com Dan McCoy

    This is great thought. The law of attraction say what you focus on expands. One comment though. Are the people that “slip through” bad apples or are they just misguided folks that have not yet found happiness because they have CHOSEN to look for the negative. With each person I meet I learn something. In the bad apple situation, I am reminded of how I don’t want to ever act, or be around people that act that way. God loves him too and His kindness showing through the way you and Gail chose to act shows more people WHO God is than anything you could say. thanks for leading.

  • Watsonsrock

    It seems when you see others as fellow humans it helps in many areas. When I am driving and another driver seems to be in more of a hurry than I think they should be, I think back to the time we got to the drop off to take our child to camp and realized the sleeping bag was still sitting at home by the living room door We rushed home to get it before the bus pulled off. Or I think back to the time we forgot that we had promised to pick someone up at the airport and were trying to get there. If I think of what they might be going through two things happen; I am not road raging, and I am getting out of their way!!!

  • Mxyzptlk

    While this post is meant to apply to many situations in life, on the subject of air travel I want to say how key it is when you have a travel delay or cancelled flight and need to deal with airline customer service personnel. At these times, the customer who is friendly, positive and sympathetic will get the best service and also feel good about himself.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewComings Andrew Comings

    Your post convicted me this morning.  A week ago I exhibited great impatience with the service representative for the car dealership where I go for repairs.  Today I went with a different attitude, and the change in service was amazing.  I felt so bad I went and apologized to the poor girl who had to deal with me last week.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kelly.arrey Kelly Arrey

    If anything, I think you’ve understated the situation.  Some people seem to go through life thinking that everyone who is not them is a moron.

  • http://twitter.com/chris_rainey Chris Rainey

    Michael you are absolutely right. Our attitude towards others, including the TSA, will determine more times than not the attitude we receive back. Hmm…seems like that is similar to something a good Book promotes…treat others as you want to be treated.

  • Pingback: You Get What You Expect | BG Allen

  • Anonymous

    Excellent points. I have traveled quite a bit over the last year and have likewise not had a negative experience. I’ve chosen a pat-down instead of the body scanner but have always been courteous and received the same.

  • Paula

    I try to extend grace and kindness to anyone I come in contact with.  I haven’t always done so, but the older I get, the more I am seeking to find ways to share God’s love through my communications and interactions with people.    A dear friend shared a thought with me that always helps me when I come across someone who is grumpy, angry or demanding.  She taught me to stop and consider that maybe that person has a sick child at home that she’s worried about; or maybe he just got some bad news from his doctor about a health problem; perhaps she has had some big expenses and is worried about paying the mortgage/rent and utilities this month.   We never know what worries people may have.  Extending grace can potentially lighten another’s burdens. 

  • Joyce Harback

    This is a wonderful reminder to treat others as we would want to be treated. A grumpy clerk is my challenge to have them smiling before I leave. A great guideline is, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

    I appreciated your post, Michael, and I gain even more from the reading the richly varied examples in the comments. Quality begets quality. Thank you for leading the way by example.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Joyce. I am so blessed myself by the quality of the comments.

  • http://www.jonstallings.com Jon Stallings

    Great post Michael. The Biblical principal of “Seek and you will find” applies here. If you look hard enough for the negative you will find it. (You see that a lot in politics) I also have to work hard to let my attitude be based on my choice and not on the actions of others.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, Michael.  After several years working at a Christian bookstore, I doubled my efforts to treat others kindly no matter the circumstances.  It’s been a decade since I left that job but I still remember the customers who were rude, demanding, and entitled despite my best efforts to help them.  (I also remember some of the customers who complimented my skills in helping them find what they needed.)  It is so much more pleasant for me internally to be pleasant with others externally.  Even when you’re on the receiving end of poor customer service, I’ve found maintaining an understanding demeanor, a few light jokes here and there, and a good amount of patience can really turn the situation around.

  • Mark Mcpeak

    I left Africa a few years back having heard this advice from a friend of mine. “Smile and greet everyone cheerfully on your long trip back to the US and you’ll be amazed how they respond.” It was so true! My smiles were reciprocated from Abidjan to Paris to Atlanta to Nashville. It was a great trip!
    I love this quote – “the true test of a gentleman is how he treats those he’s not required to be nice to.” The real story is how you and Gail genuinely value every person you meet. I wish your caller would learn the joy of connecting with people, even if only for a moment. We can convey a sense that they are important and it can have such an impact!
    Thanks for this post – and for who you and Gail are…great examples of the right kind of attitude and compassion!

  • B Segura

    I so agree withyou, Michael! In a previous job/career, I traveled regularly and I can’t recall a bad experience with a TSA agent – ever. Airline travel can be inhumane at times, but I have a policy to always dress nice and act nice when I am traveling…it’s amazing (maybe not so!) how it comes back at me in a positive way.

  • http://stephanienikolopoulos.com Stephanie Niko

    I would go a step further and say that that if you treat
    people like morons, they’re likely to respond accordingly.  If you treat workers as unique and important
    individuals who have feelings and needs instead of as robots there to cater to
    your every whim and attitude, they’ll be a lot more willing to treat you the
    same way.

    And Newark … yeah.  I’ve often found that in general New Yorkers get a bad reputation for being rude when in fact it’s usually commuters from New Jersey. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I cracked up at your last line!

  • http://roborr.net Rob Orr

    Same things could be said for sports referees. I wonder how many people really think there are “people” under those uniforms with families, bills, and all those things which are common to the journey of life.

  • Anonymous

    Michael – Thank you again.  This morning I was filled with negative thoughts, I read your post and the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I realized that if my expectation is to see the negative in each event, I would and many times we get caught in a closed loop of despair, fear, anger and resentment.    I got on my knees (literally) and prayed, Jesus, I expect to see you today because you are alive and well, I expect to feel your presence in me today because your Spirit is in me.  I recalled the verse from Matthew18:18, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.     I was on track to have a day of negative expectations, now I have a different outlook, the same challenges of launching a new company remain; but so is Christ.  I thank you and praise God for listening to Him through your words this morning.

    Walter

  • Shelleylandes

    My mom has always said to me, “….if you expect the worst, you will get the worst.”  I also firmly believe that people respond to what you put out there.  If you are rude and nasty, you are likely to get that back.  If you greet people respectfully and with kindness (and a big toothy smile) you will get that back.

    It comes right back to the golden rule…..treat others the way you want to be treated.  In this day and age that sounds trite and cliche but it’s the most basic principle of human interaction.

    Like you, I have never had issue with the TSA agents and thank them for keeping our friend skies safe!

  • http://www.sarahkovac.com Sarah Kovac

    Thank you for posting this!!! It applies to so many areas of life, but as the wife of an airport security officer, I can tell you that the individuals checking you through security take a lot of heat for regulations over which they have zero control, and they really are just trying to get everyone safely from A to B. It’s so refreshing to hear someone appreciative of what they do. People like you make my husband’s day. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. Tell your husband that I appreciate what he doing to serve our country.

  • http://www.brandonkraft.com Brandon Kraft

    Thanks for this post. Too many people around me love to hate the TSA. If you’re polite to them, willing to follow instruction and are prepared (their website is a great resource), it’s (typically, usually) a very forgettable experience.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I have watched this happen with waiters/waitresses. Some people tend to forget that are moms, sisters, college students, uncles, etc., doing a job to make ends meet, put themselves through school, and more. It’s amazing what a simple smile and asking how their day is will do. When I ask them how they are, it tends to catch them off guard, because they’re not used to it. You want great service? Treat others like people, not your slaves. 

    The waiter you’re rude to today could be the surgeon you need tomorrow. 

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    I loved the slight against Newark. Just a bit of humanity in what would otherwise have come across as sounding like you’ve never been there. I was beginning to think you never “expressed frustration” at other drivers when caught in traffic.

  • Anonymous

    Also, if you do have a negative experience, your reaction to it says a lot.  When you have had a negative experience, did you “bellow” into the phone and berate people or calmly and rationally express your dissatisfaction?  Or did you cut the person some slack, give the benefit of the doubt or just let it roll off?

    Conversely, there are people who are grouches who get good service and are totally oblivious to it or feel entitled to it because they are wrapped up in themselves.

  • Ken

    Michael, At the bottom of your post I noticed a banner with the inscription.  10 things Jesus never said.  Immediately I thought of a bracelet.  WWJDAATSAA  What Would Jesus Do As A TSA Agent. Would Jesus or God ever say, “Take off your shoes, Raise your hands, You can’t take that with you”……  Oh wait!  He said all those things……..   Never mind.     BTW I have met a few TSA agents I would love to have test your wonderful outlook. 

    Thanks for encouraging us to take the high road.

    That was me sitting next to you. (-;

  • Tina

    My pastor once told me she purposely said “Thank you very much and have a nice day” to the toll takers on the NJ Turnpike or GSP because 99% of people probably scowl at them.  She thought it would shake up their day and maybe make them smile.  Boy is that true.  So you also see what you project.  If we give off kindness and a smile, you’ll likely get it back.  If you scowl and swear, you’ll likely get that back too.

  • DMG

    Well, this reminds me of an experience that happened about 10 yrs ago, one of those an after the ” job interview” incidents, which went terrible wrong.  Several people helped me get an interview with this very important and ideal (I thought at the time) publishing & newspaper co. So I did everything right to apply for the job, just as they asked, including the interview, which went well.  About 3 days later, HR calls and tells me to come pick up my design portfolio. It was some crazy heat wave day of 110 degrees, I’d had car trouble that morning and whoa, the HR gal brought out the wrong portfolio… I was rude beyond belief to this gal… skip ahead 5 yrs and my husband and I meet this same gal at a large church picnic. We’re now friends, but boy did I have an apology to make.  Lesson learned!

  • Nina Walsh

    I tend to be too chatty.  My family chides me for my comments to agents.  I recently said tongue-in-cheek to a TSA agent who was definitely in a good mood, “You are having way too much fun with your job.  You need to be more serious.”  We had a good laugh.  I usually am ready with a quip at my first chance to speak to the border agents at the US/Canada border.  I am convinced, when they scan my passport, they see:  “Let this silly woman pass.  She is harmless,” because they rarely ask me anything.  And I often say to both types of agents — “Thanks for keeping us safe.”  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I love your description of your experiences and the words you share.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Nina, there’s nothing wrong with being chatty(or too chatty). I think people enjoy it more than we think they do. It also gives people the interaction that so many of them crave but do not get.

  • Jody

    I find that people always rise (or the opposite) to the level that they are treated.  This is a wonderful article. God Bless the TSA!

  • http://lifeallin.net Jacob Musselman

    We prime people to interact with us. We tell them how to treat us. When I go through one of those encounters, I have to ask what it was in me that brought that to pass.

  • http://www.accuconference.com Maranda Gibson

    Every experience I’ve ever had with TSA has always gone like yours – pleasant, cheerful, with “where are you headed” and “have a great time seeing your friend” peppered in there. So much of what we do is in the way we perceive the task we’re about to take on.  When we approach a situation (a security check) with the idea that its’ going to be embarrassing, rude, or a waste of time – that’s what we walk away with. 

    However, if we approach situations with a positive attitude and with a little respect (because lets be honest, we need to respect each other more) we can walk away with a great experience.  And who knows — maybe YOU were the best group the TSA agent put through all day, and you made that person smile. You made a different and THAT is what really matters. 

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    My grandmother repeated a phrase so often we grandchildren would finish it with her. “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.” She was a delight to be around even when in her nineties she suffered from dementia.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’ve experienced this, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bkcronin Kevin Cronin

    My father instilled a discipline in us that we are responsible not only for everything that we do, but also for everything that happens to us.  Now I get it.

  • Ron Kuest

    Its the principle of the self-fulling prophecy.  Your interaction with others will turn out just the way you want it.  You want to be angry, it won’t go well.  You want to reflect Christ who is in you, it will go well–for them.  They may be angry, negative and having a really bad day because of who knows what.  Our job is to people of blessing.  Doesn’t require any other’s permission.  Smile, bless, take some grump and bless.  Remind yourself, “I WILL NOT condition my day and my response on the basis of how someone else acts.”

  • http://www.brianjones.ca joshaidan

    There’s a good book out there called, “Feeling Good Together,” by Dr. David D. Burns. He says that in a relationship when you have a complaint about someone, often it’s a “self fulfilling prophecy.” In other words, you’re doing the same to the other person.

    I think it’s true in this case too. He says the TSA thinks they’re god, but it sounds like he thinks he’s god too.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Interesting observation. Like that psychology.

  • http://twitter.com/IntactMarketing Intact Marketing

    It’s well known that what goes around, comes around. The Bible says the way you measure it will be measured to you. The way you want to be treated, should you treat others. It’s so simple, yet often missed. Couple of days ago, I’m in the grocery line and it just happened that the cashier change came up. The gentlemen in front of me is puffing that every time they change is right in front of his turn, and it goes on and on (for a nonsense for like two minutes) and I smiled and said: well they have to have bathroom breaks too. It’s only two minutes. It didn’t bothered me at all. He looked at me and said: are you the optimist one? I said well, I guess I am …. and asked him nicely … if you would be at the cashier, do you think would you need bathroom breaks from time to time? We smiled, mad a joke but then before he left, turned back and said … I guess I should change my attitude shouldn’t I? 

    I just thought about for a moment: he said this is happening to him all the time … it frustrates him … I can’t recall these events because they don’t bother me at all … we have to be nice, we have to be kind. So many people get frustrated and angry for really non-sense things. Life is more valuable then being always cranky. 

    We can choose to go out of our way to be kind, or to be rude … choose the one you would like others to respond to you.

  • Roweroo

    It is all about the “filter” we use. Reminds me of “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” in which the main character’s sunny disposition elevated those around him and helped him get out of scrapes with bikers, escaped cons and the like.
    Nothing like sashay-ing through ordinary days with a sincere appreciation for others. It makes all those encounters with TSA and others well, not so ordinary after all.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Recently,  I learned from my psychologist friend, Dr. Orv Owens, that humans are very goal-oriented beings. Then we have a choice between positive and negative goals. Negative self-talk, unwarranted criticism, unnecessary anxieties, and unbridled fears are all negative goals. When we think and say these things, we will end up achieving these negative goals.

    Like Leah, I have become so much more mindful about negativity. Michael, I have not had much negative experience with the TSA staff. In fact, I’ve noticed that they are becoming more courteous and friendly the last few times I travelled.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    I’ve never had a bad TSA experience, but I don’t fly that much.  Treating others the way you’d like to be treated is a good rule of thumb.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      I’m with you, brother! The closest I’ve encounter I’ve had was going through one of those “see through your close” machines. But they were all real nice while ushering me through.

  • Momarian

    I think part of this has to do with how much of a servant attitude one has. If we pay someone for a service do we repay with a kind heart, tone, look and words?  

  • Elizabeth Sanders

    I completely agree with this post, and it falls hand-in-hand with a life philosophy of mine that I often tell people who inquire as to why I’m always so positive: self-fulfilling prophecy. If you get up in the morning, stub your toe and proclaim “Man, I can already tell this is going to be a horrible day.” Well yes, now it is. lol You just deemed it as such, and that’s what you will be looking for all day. So I completely understand what you mean, and I try to practice that idea on a daily basis when connecting with people, while in the workplace or in everyday life.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Elizabeth, that reminds me of the scripture verse about “the power of life and death is in the tongue”. By speaking that it’s going to be a horrible day, you’ve just spoken death to the day.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    So true, and a good reminder to examine our hearts. What comes out of our mouths reflects what’s in our hearts. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored
    up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil
    stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    YES! Think this is so true. In fact, I think it spreads. My wife has a… let’s say a less than positive attitude about technology and her computer and all that is involved with that. She’s got it so bad it has spread to ME! Just had to replace a wireless router AND a modem! So I’m going to have to send her to techno-therapy to help resolve her aversion to all things technological.

    It’s nice to be back online!  :)

  • Joe Lalonde

    Good topic today. I agree that you get what you’re looking for.

    An experience I had at a store today could have gone either way. When I arrived at the store, there was a line and it took quite some time before I was helped. If I had looked at it as the employees being slow, goofing off, etc… I would have had a bad experience. Instead, I looked at it as they were helping other customers and doing their job. I was able to have a pleasant conversation with the employee and left the store satisfied.

  • Deliawel

    I asked a fellow Christian a simple question, and while I was searching as to why I never received a reply, I stumbled upon this site. as I was reading the subject of discussion, as well as the comments that have been written by other readers, I realized it was no couincidence, but truly:”The Holy Spirit” that lead me to this discussion. As a christian, and also the owner of a successful business, that is completely reliant upon customer satisfaction, in order to generate revenue. That being said, when ever I find myself engaged in business, or just in fellowship with a fellow christian; I, all too often ” do not find what I’m looking for.” I find that most christians, are more critical and much more judge mental & have less tolerant for others, xam non believers. I’m certainly not perfect, in fact, I know I’m wretched and unworthy, with out the blood of christ. And It’s because, I Haven’t forgotten what I am, With out The blood of christ, That I don’t Judge others for any reason. When anyone asks me for money, I give what I can, and give no thought to what they may or may not do with it! if they do wrong with what I have given, then that’s between them and God, But as long as God knows I gave you

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    You ever notice that there are still some people who are just catty regardless of how nice you treat them? I’ve been challenged with that a lot, especially  since I started teaching my kids that their thoughts and actions show how “big” they are, even though they are are genetically height challenged.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      LOL! “Genetically height challenged.” That’s great.

  • http://profiles.google.com/heather.knight.pdx Heather Knight

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Ben Franklin

    The reason you have such a pleasant experience is because you are doing exactly what they ask you to do without thinking about the potential consequences of not doing what they ask you to do.  You think that being nice makes your experience nice.  While this is true, I wonder at what cost?  The TSA has not made this country safer.  There have been plenty of incidences since 9/11.  None have resulted in loss of life, but the potential for it was there. 

    In theory, I agree with you.  Yes, niceness begets niceness.  In practice, with the TSA, I respectfully disagree with your assessment.  Your agreeableness just helps the TSA perpetuate their assault on our personal freedoms in this country through fear.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Heather, is flying really an essential liberty? There are other forms of transportation. The government is not restricting your ability to move about the country. They’re not saying that you can’t fly from Florida to Washington. You don’t have the “right” to not be searched when boarding a flight.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I2ZP6MPDRLHVYO7X3NDTQLA5QU Tom

    Michael, I so greatly appreciate the thoughts expressed here because it is true that people tend to treat us as we imagine they are; kindness and positive expectation go a long way toward making even the “morons” behave better :)

    Hoping that my comment will not be considered so outside of popular belief that you delete it, I was disappointed with only one thing you said and that is when you equated the lack of new terrorists attacks since 9/11 with the good work of the TSA.

    There really is evidence beyond doubt, readily found and ubiquitously circulated, that 9/11 was a False-Flag operation carried out by elements of our own government, not terrorists. To start, I recommend a very professional, scientific, empirical look at some evidence which can be found in the documentary “Architects & Engineers: Solving the Mystery of WTC 7″. It is available on YouTube and other sites.

    That said, the point of this blog post is very well taken, thank you for writing it.

  • http://shelaughsblog.com Shaena Crespo

    I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been cranky and rude and have been shown love and respect in a way that changed my attitude and my day. I learn a lot from the people I meet doing everyday things. Sometimes it’s convicting, but it always challenges me to see people as people and not just a means to my end.

  • Revlarson

    I am amazed that the One man who can truly look down on others without any faults or failings of His own will look at someone like me and hide my faults from His Father’s eyes. Thank you, Jesus! 

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Well said. Amen!

  • http://twitter.com/1WeeSpark OneWeeSpark

    I have been working personal recovery from a childhood living with my mother in a hoarded home. I have found that so many times we get what we expect. If we expect others to reject us or to belittle/tease us, they do. But when we take the time to see ourselves as the beautiful children that God created–we are each enough already! (But God demonstrate his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.–Romans 5:8), we find that we are accepted more often…no matter where we are or where we go, or even who we go with. What a wonderful thought!

  • Edwina Cowgill

    It’s the same principle as “Do unto others….” If you want to be treated with respect and courtesy, you treat others – TSA Agents, store clerks, the kid at the drive through window at MickeyD’s – with respect and courtesy.

  • http://www.dwaynes--world.blogspot.com Dwayne Morris

    I’m with you! We see what we are prepared to see. This guy saw “inconvenience” and that’s what he got in return. (Isn’t it great when you can just write about the experiences the Lord gives us?)

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    Cleaners and council mowers are my 2 favourite people groups! I really appreciate the hard work these people do to make my life more easier and beautiful :) They don’t believe me though, when I tell them they’re my favourite people. Maybe they don’t get enough thanks.

  • Scott Lippmann

    You have hit the nail on the head. It is amazing how well this works, especially when things are obviously not going well for someone in a high stress, public contact job.  “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”  Matt 5:16 (NKJV)

     And for those who are on the other end of the transaction (TSA agents, etc.), this same principle works in reverse.  If you take the initiative to be positive, friendly, and put yourself in the shoes (or socks) of those you are interacting with, everyone’s day will be just a bit better.  Yes, you still have to do your job to the best of your ability, but nothing says it can’t be done with a friendly, positive attitude.  Yes, you will still run into jerks, which provides an opportunity to make their day better rather than confirming their expectations!  Look at the example of the traffic cops, who “put on a show” while they are directing traffic.  Not only is it amusing, it disarms much of the frustration of drivers in heavy traffic, and I daresay more people smile than frown going through the intersection – and it’s great public relations as well!

  • Anonymous

    A few months ago, I was purchasing a few items at a local supermarket that we frequently visit. I had a lot on my mind as I was running my debit card and punching in my PIN.  It suddenly dawned on me that the young lady at the register had asked me how my day was and I hadn’t answered her.  I apologized for my rudeness and told her it had been a very busy day.  

    Her reply stung me.  “That’s ok.  I’m used to people ignoring me.”

    Since that day, I’ve made more of an effort to make eye contact with and to speak to Wal-mart greeters, store cashiers, etc.  If they have on a name tag, I try to call them by name.   I once worked behind a register at an independently owned pharmacy.  I remember how much some of the customers meant to me and I’m trying to pass it along.

    Great article, and great reminder, Michael.  Thanks.

  • Bill Horn

    This is so true. I don’t think I have ever had a bad experience with the TSA either, even when I’ve been scanned or taken through the “puffer.” It’s the same with police officers or anyone else who may have to inconvenience us at times. If we treat them with respect, that is often reciprocated. If we act defensive, irritable, and annoyed, we’ll likely get the same in return. I don’t envy TSA agents at all. Like you said, it is a thankless job. Their work is usually perceived as an annoyance to others, while the required checks are not something they thought up. They are simply trying to do their job. Personally, I want them to take it seriously, and I am thankful when they do.

  • Scottishchief1

    Absolutely love your blog but I’m not in complete agreement on the TSA thing.  I’m a platinum traveler, generally am an optimistic person and own three companies that serve the airline industry.  I know there are a lot of exceptions but my experience with the TSA guys is a lot like dealing with the drive thru staff at McDonald’s (and NOT like Chick-fil-A).   I do appreciate the spirit of this particular blog though.   

  • http://blog.rumorsofglory.com/ Lucille Zimmerman

    This is so true.  I wrote about this psychology phenomenon here: http://blog.rumorsofglory.com/2011/07/22/collect-evidence-for-what-you-choose-to-see/

  • Rodney

    One if my favorite things to do is ask to see the manager in a restaurant, hotel, or retail store. When the manager comes in with a sigh of dread, I gush with detailed compliments about their staff. I even call the 800 number on receipts occasionally. They’re usually quite surprised.

  • Madion1wisconsin

    I worked for TSA for 9 1/2 years. My father was a world war II pilot, my daughter is an explosive engineer, my son is an airplane mechanic that worked for one of the major airlines as a counter person for 5 years. I think my family gets it when it comes to air traffic and security.
    My son left the airlines because he was so irritated with the flying public and their behavior he was afraid he’d someday hit someone.
    The public can help by going to the TSA webpage and read before they travel. TSA could help by employing somebody that can write on that web page something that is comprehendible. I had my daughter-in-laws parents go to the webpage and still not understand what they were supposed to do. They both have PHD’s. I think I had truly had enough when they asked the elderly teacher to remove her undergarment. fYI to the public, that really was proper procedure. I am glad to be gone. But not everyone there is an idiot.

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    This really addresses all people, when I think about it…even how I see my son. At times, I can get so frustrated with him, and in a moment I can be bellowing in loud tones to get his attention resorting to utilizing 3 year old behavior myself to grab his attention. Swift move…right? (denote latent sarcasm at myself)

    But really…this post really addresses that. We do get what we look for. If I want to find something my son is doing “wrong”….well by golly, I will find it (and therefore feel I have every right and reason…as his mother…to bark at him). But how about if I transform my mindset…my heart set….my attitude…and start looking for the best in him (and if the worst comes out, just deal with it appropriately), and perhaps…just perhaps, I won’t have to bellow so much? Something to deeply engrain in my mind and process now.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Lot of wisdom in your words. I know you’re probably just using the parenting situation as an example. But we have been stepping back and doing what you’re talking about. Finding the good in our boys. Not just picking out the things we see needs to be brought back inline. There’s a great balance that needs to be achieved in our minds. Thanks for the comment.

  • Anonymous

    A guy walks into a bar… No, seriously. A guy – let’s call him Stan – walked into a bar and started a conversation with the man next to him. That man was moving because he couldn’t take another minute living in such a rude town. As he talked, it became clear that every place he’d ever lived had been the rudest place ever. Through their exchange the two men learned they’d lived in the exact same towns, but Stan had always been sad to leave because he’d met the most pleasant people in those places. 

    I heard that story a long time ago, and it was as if I’d been hit over the head with a 2×4! In a good way.

    [Who knew the TSA had a blog? Thanks for sharing! I clicked over. Very cool.]

  • http://twitter.com/nicolasstampf Nicolas Stampf

    People move toward the questions they ask. This is a fundamental to Appreciative Inquiry (see http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu). Words create worlds.

  • Francarona

    I just traveled las week and was subject to a “thorough pat-down.”   The lady was so kind and considerate.  I told her was sorry she had to do these pat-downs.  She replied by telling me that she was doing her part to keep America safe.  Now that is an unsung hero! 

  • Dr. Art

    I try (emphasis on the word “try”) to be responsible for the nature of the outcome of the encounter.  If I approach it from the perspective of wanting it to be positive then I need to bring a positive attitude to it. It usually works. There are times, however rare (at least I think its rare, but like most men I need to a final opinion on this from my wife :) when I bring a negative one to it. Those can be negative, but not always. There are also times when I bring a positive attitude and the response is negative.  I guess what I’m saying is when have a lot less control over the responses of others than we would like, but probably more than we know.
    So, when you come to an encounter bring the right attitude, at least your half way there.

  • Tamara Vann

    Great piece! You are oh so right, too. People do get what they’re looking for. Businesses need to learn how to rise to the challenge and behave better than the customers – in many cases. When they do, they might just surprise, delight and earn a customer for life. This video offers great tips for getting the job done – http://www.upyourservice.com/video-theater/how-do-you-build-and-sustain-a-superior-service-culture

  • Sivakishan

    Hi Michael, I can relate to what you shared. I recently started using public transport (Buses) in New Delhi. When I commute on my two-wheeler, I always dread these buses for the way they are driven and keep distance from them for my own safety. Only after using public transport did I appreciate the context in which they are operating and am now thankful for doing their ‘thankless’ jobs of 8 or more hours a day in the very traffic that I consider hellish. They need to be acknowledged for taking me home safely and for reaching their homes safely every day. Thanks for sharing. Siva

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great thoughts!  I believe in trying to see people as God sees them.  It can really change my outlook, and theirs!  Thanks!

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  • Constance A.Buckley

         I view people with interest. I almost always see beauty in people and am happy to see them. I believe we’re all made in the image of God. When I worked at the library, after many years I began to burn out. It seemed that I got a few customers representing their earthly father, the father of lies. Then I wish I viewed them as hopefully as when I first met them. Sad to say, I could only manage civility and occasionally left the area of service to one of my colleagues when they approached the desk. 
         One time, I asked God to show me the person as He saw them and I got filled with such compassion, the person saw it and was immediately transformed. That person approaches me at fairs and other random places with kindness and I’m glad to see the individual, too. That’s how I want to remember to respond to others, with the love of our Savior.

    Constance A. Buckley

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  • Just an American Christian

    While I appreciate the sentiment of kindness and Christ-like spirit in this article and the comments, we are ignoring something vital that someone needs to voice – folks, wake up!

    I am a solid, Biblical Christian, but I am also an American who has his Fourth Amendment rights violated every single time I have to endure a TSA screening. It is “unreasonable” to assume EVERY God-fearing American citizen is a potential threat. This is not done in any other law enforcement operation EXCEPT at the airport (at least not in my state). It is “unreasonable” for the TSA to offer me, an innocent citizen, only the choice of an insulting, degrading, violating search or “just don’t fly” (that last is from the TSA website Q&A section). The TSA blog and website continue to spin the idea that these “warrantless searches” are reasonable and Constitutional, but I insist they are not. Our Founding Fathers would cringe at how our government has responded (or “reacted” would be better) to the 2001 attacks on our citizenry – by treating EVERY American flyer as the potential enemy. This is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was supposed to protect us from. The burden of proof is on the government authorities to LEGALLY and JUDICIALLY prove one is suspicious before searching through their “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Then and only then, with a judge’s signed warrant. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE TSA IS KIND, MEAN, NASTY, RUDE, HAPPY, SAD, INSULTING, CONSIDERATE….they are breaking the law set by Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Roger Sherman, Elbridge Gerry and many other Founding Fathers.

    Even Paul demanded that the violation of his rights as a Roman citizen NOT be ignored when beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:37). He lovingly, kindly and most assuredly angrily demanded that those who were inflicting injustice be called to account (read the end of v. 37). We too MUST demand a return to decency, dignity and liberty provided to us in the Fourth Amendment, folks – or we will lose it (and more).

    I am an American. I am not a terrorist. I am a Christian. I am not Muslim. I love this country. I love what God has blessed us with in our liberties and basis of laws. And I am proud to be in a nation, from its very foundation, where we have been granted certain protections  – which are slowly and tragically being taken away. 

    Be kind and loving and Christian to the TSA agents. Yes! Just as Paul was with a Roman solldier. But let’s at least admit, we have lost one of our precious freedoms – and we should resent it – not merely accept it as lemmings. I will smile, act with kindness and share Christian love when I face the dreaded TSA line – but I can not, I WILL NOT compliment the audacious TSA and their agents for taking away what used to my “inalienable” right!

    “They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    [Benjamin Franklin]