In this video Craig’s friend, Charlotte Curtis, tells the story of how she handled the trash guys always leaving her recycling box in the wrong place. Some great lessons here about alternatives to reporting or reprimanding.
(And if you like this video you might also like the Good Group Tip Carrots are better than sticks.)
Here’s what Craig and Charlotte say in the video:
Craig: Hi everybody, Craig Freshley here. Last week in Quaker meeting, my friend Charlotte told a story about how she handled a conflict very creatively. It was a small conflict, but it was a pretty good story. Now, I thought about retelling the story myself, but then I had the idea – let’s ask Charlotte to retell the story. Check it out.
Charlotte: Well, I have a little story I want to share with you. It’s been a good experience. The people that take my trash, namely the recyclables, would always leave the box in front of the mailbox. And the mailman has to deliver mail, and it was becoming a problem. So I went out there, met him there and I asked him nicely with a smile, “Could you not put the box in front of the mailbox?” And it seemed like every time after that it was even out there more in front of the mailbox. Well, maybe there was a new guy on. So I got thinking about it and talking to my friend about it and she says, “Well why don’t you report them? You know, it has to be corrected.” And I got thinking that if I reported them, that wouldn’t make very good feelings.
And then I thought, Ah! I got an idea; why don’t I go down and get two candy bars – which I did, king size Mr. Goodbars, I got Mr. Goodbar because that’s the kind I like best! So the next time I met them at the mailbox and I passed one of them the candy bar and I said, “I just want to thank you for not leaving the box in front of the mailbox. I really appreciate that.” And the kid’s eyes got big and he said “Oooh, thank you.” He was delighted with the candy bar. Then I went over and gave the driver a candy bar and I said, “If you get somebody on new, could you make sure that they do not put the trash container in front of the mailbox so it can be delivered?” And he said, “Oh, okay! Sure!” He was delighted with his candy bar.
So the next time they came, I was on the deck but they couldn’t see me. I could hear the driver hollering instructions to the one picking up recyclables. Maybe he was a new guy. And when I went out, the box was where it was supposed to be – up on the bank and not in front of the mailbox! And I know every time they go to deliver they’re going to think of those candy bars.
And I was thinking, wouldn’t that be a great concept, if countries could grasp that? When somebody gets mad at somebody, take a whole mess of Mr. Goodbar candy bars and deliver them and say, “We appreciate you being a friend. We really appreciate that.” Wouldn’t that be something if countries could get that concept? I know one thing, it worked for me.