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I had a weird thought recently while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. What went through my mind was this: “I want to be the best patient this doctor sees today.” This was my first time seeing this person and I found myself thinking how I was going to be the most organized, well-prepared and knowledgeable patient the doctor will see today. 

Weird, huh?

But that got me thinking about this: “What if we went into every exchange with that thought?” What if for every meeting, phone call, Zoom meeting, significant family conversation or random pairing on a golf course, the people you interact with thought, “Wow, that was one of the best, most interesting people I’ve ever met!” Obviously, it can’t happen every time, but I’ve found myself thinking about that mindset more and more of late – and it’s made a difference.

For the amateur psychologists reading this let me first say this is not about getting approval from everyone you meet. Instead, I think it is about having extreme respect for anyone you encounter. It is a mindset that says, “You will get the very best of me in this exchange,” and it just sets you up for going above and beyond. 

This idea has shown itself in some interesting ways. First, for anyone who is serving me or providing a service that often gets overlooked, I now find I look those people in the eye and try to have a meaningful exchange with them, even if it is just a genuine “Hello” or “Thank you.” If I’m going out of the house, I think more about how I’m presenting myself – even if it’s just a stop at the grocery store. (Do the people working at the store REALLY want to see us looking like we just rolled out of bed? Probably not.)

Sure, most of us put our best foot forward in a job interview or going to a house of worship or on a first date, but what if we tried a little harder in everyday interactions? Perhaps this is my way of pushing back against the harshness of recent days – I’m not sure where it’s coming from, but I think there is something to this.

So, would you join me? Show that extra level of care in the commonplace exchanges that often fill the entire day of everyone from a store clerk to a waiter to that doctor I was determined to impress. I’m pretty sure I know how you’ll be viewed, and more importantly, I know their lives will probably be just a bit better. 

Be the best. Always.