Great Examples Are Such Fun to Observe

Posted on February 22, 2014 by Bob Burg Comments (19)


I often find myself writing articles on influence and persuasion. It’s usually after seeing someone do something that brings them the very opposite of the result they desire. I’ll watch them arguing, pleading, begging or screaming, and then finally walking away in anger and frustration. “Why do these things always happen to me?” they seem to be saying to themselves.

Of course, those things happen to them precisely because they do what they do.

The results of one’s actions are more often than not a matter of cause and effect. Do things in a certain way and you will almost always get a certain result. If, for example, you relate to people in a way that makes them feel good about you (and, just as importantly, about themselves), chances are much greater that they will go out of their way to please you. Do the opposite, as most people do, and you’ll get the opposite results.

It’s not fun to watch this happening. It’s much more fun to watch someone “doing it right.” The bonus, when we come upon such an example, is that we are then able to use it to help us handle our own potentially difficult situations.

Here’s what I mean by watching someone doing it right …

I was in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, having been invited to speak at a conference there. It was about 8:00 a.m. when I brought my cup of coffee and a book into the lobby of my hotel. My presentation wasn’t until late afternoon, and this seemed like a good opportunity to relax and do some reading. Sitting across from me, oblivious to my presence, was a woman with a pleasant smile on her face and a cell phone at her ear.

If I hadn’t been eavesdropping … er, uh, I mean sitting where I couldn’t help but overhear her … I’d have thought she was talking to her best friend. She wasn’t. She was trying to straighten out a business problem that seemed to be her fault. It had something to do with someone having been left without some important documentation regarding an important transaction.

She hung up, went to the front desk, and pleasantly (there’s that word again) asked if they could send a fax for her. Granted, this was a wonderful, service-driven hotel. But even if it weren’t, they wouldn’t have turned down her request. If you’d been there, you would know exactly what I mean.

She came back to the chair opposite me and, apparently noticing me for the first time, very sweetly apologized for having bothered me with her talking while I was reading. I told her it was quite all right. Absolutely no bother at all. That I enjoyed watching her handle an obviously difficult situation. She smiled and told me that she was very grateful for everyone being so patient with her.

Positive Persuasion and Ultimate Influence Lesson: People tend to reflect your attitude right back at you. In other words: “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him (or, as in this case, her) by another.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 27:19)

Resolving her problem required several more trips to the front desk and phone calls to various people. She apologized when she had to, encouraged when she needed to, and smiled genuinely the entire time. Her mission, needless to say, was finally accomplished.

Before she left, I had to ask, “You have such a wonderful way with people. What’s your secret?” She summed it up in two sentences: “I appreciate everything my Creator has given me.” (That explains her positive attitude.) And “Most people are nice if you treat them as such.” (That explains her results.)

Getting the results you want while helping people feel good about themselves, about the situation, and about you. I call that Ultimate Influence. And that’s exactly what she had.

Bob Burg

Bob Burg speaks at corporate conferences and entrepreneurial events. His books (which include Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver) have altogether sold more than a million copies. His newest book is Adversaries Into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion. To read Chapter One, visit While there, check out his Go-Givers International Membership Community.

19 responses to “Great Examples Are Such Fun to Observe”

  1. Ivan says:

    What a beautiful observation in every day life where we can learn from others how to handle things in a good way.
    There is so much we can learn from every day life,while shopping each day,observe how you are treated from place to place,
    and you will understand why some businesses are growing and some are failing a lot have to do how customers are treated
    before during and after each transaction,treat them right and with great respect,and they will be back again and again,treat them
    with no respect and soon you will be out of your business.

    • bobburg says:

      Ivan, thank you for your kind words. And, I love what you said in terms of treating others and how it relates to good business. As one of my favorites, Harry Browne, used to say, "Profit is the reward for pleasing another person."

  2. Murray Suid says:

    So often these days writers emphasize the negative. Take a look at HOUSE OF CARDS, a series (entertaining for sure) about doing things the wrong way. Many popular bloggers endlessly analyze how things have gone bad. But they are usually at a loss to bring forward examples of doing things right. Or maybe they feel stories about getting it right are boring. This post of yours proves the opposite: A story of working smart and having good values is not only instructive but also fun to read. Thank you.

    • bobburg says:

      Murray, huge gratitude to you for your very kind words about the post. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and found it to be of value!

  3. imgettingdizzy says:

    Great guest post from Mr. Burg. I get a sense that that the "eavesdropping" may have better been described as a writer practicing mindfulness — had the woman thrown her hands in the air and complained instead of taking the initiative and handling the problem, we probably wouldn't be reading an article about her today.

    • bobburg says:

      IGD, Thank you for your thoughtful words. Indeed, I wasn't really eavesdropping. :-) It was more that it wasn't a very big room and I could hear her very easily. Of course, it was a total pleasure observing how she handled the situation so well, with so much tact and class.

  4. george says:

    Thank you Bob. I am a simple person. I love life. Having a good attitude is so important when dealing with people. It sometimes turns hostility and indifference into friendship. Thanks for the Good Feelings I got from the story. I have the word ATTITUDE written on my mirror in green.

    • bobburg says:

      George, thank you for your very kind feedback. So glad you enjoyed the post. Indeed, while attitude might not be literally "everything"…it sure goes a LONG way toward both individual happiness and dealing effectively with others!

  5. Rod Caceres says:

    Good post. I have been implementing this in my life for a year or so.
    A simple smile can do SOooo many things, and yet it is so easy
    to forget, to just smile.

    • bobburg says:

      Rod, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Absolutely, a smile, when genuine, and based on gratitude (even gratitude in advance!), can set a positive frame for practically any potentially-difficult situation!

  6. I hear ya, a couple of months ago someone I have not seen close up in years showed with her best make up and trust me I have seen her without and some how she thought I would be impressed with it. Um no, the person is a dirt bag of low moral and ethical fiber. Looks honey, won't do much if you won't abide by the 4 way test from Rotary International and even just the Golden Rule and standard etiquette protocol.

  7. It has to start within ourselves to Propery transmit to others, love your self first and the rest is easy, after all it’s a well know fact that hurting people, hurt people .. :)

  8. larajf says:

    I had purchased a program from Vic Johnson some time ago, and confess I'd never heard of you. When I watched your segment, I was energized and have been a fan ever since. (so thank you RR for having him do a guest post!)
    I appreciate your message and how you teach. And I think it's great that there are others in this world who treat difficult situations with heart and openness.
    This weekend, I was at a convention, and let's be honest, the lines are always long in the women's room. The one closest to me was closed and I trucked to another 3 holer with 7 women already in line. One stall was closed while the 7 in front of me went in and out. Finally a woman came out who obviously had cancer and needed extra time. She blushed and apologized for taking so long. (I did have a small amount of annoyance wondering what WAS taking so long, but it evaporated the instant she walked out). I assured her that it was no trouble and she should take all the time she needed. I got the smile I was hoping for. I wish my first reaction would have been closer to kindness, but you know, we just keep working towards getting better every day, right?

    • bobburg says:

      Larajf: Thank you for your very kind feedback. And, Vic Johnson is a great guy. I remember that program; it was an event in Atlanta. Regarding your situation in the above comment, please feel great about how terrifically you put that woman's mind at ease. Initial reaction or not, you did a very kind thing and made a difference for her!

  9. Alan says:

    Hi Bob, I'm presently engaged in taking Og Mandino's 45-week journey…presently on Scroll ll. Your observation was additional confirmation that what one sends out comes back in kind. Indeed a wonderful reminder.

    • bobburg says:

      Alan: That's terrific regarding Og's 45-week journey. I had the pleasure of opening for him at a couple of public events many years ago shortly before he passed away. What a great, kind and humble man he was. His books and wisdom were remarkable. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback!

  10. Jean says:

    Hi Bob
    Your column came at just the right time to help me adjust MY attitude. I was dealt a shovelful of cr*p (the barnyard epithet is what I mean, of course) and spent most of my weekend grousing, griping and plain being miserable. Gratitude? Furthest thing from my mind! Your words served as a simple reminder that despite one large thing going wrong, there is still a lot that is going right.

    • bobburg says:

      Jean: Thank you for your thoughts and feedback. I'm sorry you've had to go through some "yucky" experiences of late. And, sometimes it's more difficult to be in gratitude than others. However, to the degree you can remain conscious of all the things for which you have to be grateful (again, easier said than done) that's the degree to which you're most likely going to be a LOT more effective in working through everything you need to, resulting in a much better situation than it otherwise might have been. I wish you the best!

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