The first time I complimented her she said, ‘Thank you‘. I asked her where she had learnt to react in such a way. She told me her father had taught her. I was impressed. Especially because there are others who negate or deny compliments. When that occurs neither person benefits. But here was someone who knew how to create a win-win situation in which both the giver and the receiver of the compliment walk away with a smile. A most effective strategy.
The more I got to know her the more I saw how much her father had instructed her on how to be, how to act and how to react in given situations. He had not imposed his personality on her any more than any parent does, but he had given her useful tips on how best to function in the world. He had provided her with a framework of tried and tested strategies and ready-made solutions, and sent her out into her world beautifully equipped to flourish.
We all need effective strategies to help us deal with life. They are vital to our survival and they contribute to our success. As soon as we are born, our priority is to have our needs met. From the beginning of our existence we observe and experiment in an attempt to work out how the world works. By simple trial-and-error methods we devise basic strategies to manipulate our environment for our own means.
The first and by far the most effective strategy we use is to cry. When we are babies, crying produces astoundingly effective results. Any adult within earshot is immediately alerted. Those genetically closest to us respond the quickest and are usually very keen to meet whatever needs we may have. They feed us, hold us, talk to us, smile at us, comfort us, play with us.
As with any successful strategy we discover, there is a risk involved if we try to change it, because we cannot know whether the new strategy will work (see ‘Survival & Growth’ for more information). So we tend to stick to what works, no matter how ineffective it may eventually turn out to be. That is unless we are forced to change, or we stumble fortuitously on a better strategy. Or unless someone we trust offers us a better one.
Life is about defining what we want and looking for the best strategies to help us realise our goals. As we search, however, we must be humble enough to question our existing strategies, re-examining them as we go. But we need not search alone. We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who can offer us the benefit of their wisdom. Their presence in our lives is invaluable. They may not be easy to spot, but they are inclined to say ‘Thank you‘ when you compliment them.