Monday July 15th 2024

A valuable lesson from Iran


Recently I read an article by Wolfgang Riebe who is a motivational speaker from Germany.    (Yes….came as a big surprise to me too!) .

He talked about a visit he had made to Iran and how impressed he was by the many kind and pleasant Iranians he met while he was there. He had expected something quite different. 

This got me thinking about how easy it is to fall into the trap of making totally false assumptions resulting from our misconceptions and prejudices.   We often make snap judgements about people based on where they come from, how they dress, how they speak etc. without knowing anything about them at all.  Simply as a result of our preconceived ideas and some propaganda we might have been subjected to.

I have to confess to having done so myself on far too many occasions.

Now obviously there are plenty of occasions where our first impressions turn out to be totally justified. But we’ve all had experiences where people have proved us completely wrong once we’ve got to know them.

Many years ago I had a similar conversation with my eldest son who, at the time, was going through a rather strange ‘punk rocker ‘stage. During that particular phase, in my eyes at least, he looked horrendous. My wife and I used to hope the neighbours weren’t too scared! 

However, of course, we knew him to be a fine young man who was kind, considerate, polite and great fun.  My real concern was how other people would perceive him.  At the time he was about sixteen. A few years later, I’m delighted to say, he could easily have become a photographic model for any of the top fashion magazines of the time.

There are two very important points that I’d like to make here:

Firstly, whether we like it or not, people are going to form judgements about us within a few seconds of meeting us for the first time. That’s an absolute certainty.  What’s more, once those judgements are made it becomes very difficult to change them.  We’ve all heard the expression that “You only get one chance to make a good first impression”

It’s true, and you should always be aware of it. That doesn’t for a moment suggest that on meeting someone for the first time you should be anything other than yourself. Just be conscious of the fact that while you are forming an opinion about them they will be doing the same about you.

Secondly, and this is something that has become more and more evident to me over many years, is the fact that people will almost always respond to you in a similar way as you behave towards them.

You can make life so much easier for yourself by being a pleasant person to be around. Showing interest, giving consideration, being friendly and polite, listening, maybe using humour if appropriate and sharing the warmth of your own personality will be reflected back to you many times over.

Actually many people will be in shock and certainly they’ll remember you for all the right reasons!

The hidden strengths of people are brought out by ‘good finding’ not ‘fault finding’. Giving praise where it’s due and showing gratitude will have a much more positive impact than unnecessary criticism or indifference.

That doesn’t mean that you should ignore poor performance or lousy service.  By all means stand your ground where the situation demands. However you’ll induce a more favourable outcome in most cases by choosing your words carefully and criticising the performance rather than the performer wherever possible.

Nobody wants to be made to feel small or inadequate.

So wherever you may be in the world, be it Iran or anywhere else, including your own back yard, people will treat you in much the same way as you treat them.

Most people go through their life starved of an occasional pat on the back or a feeling of being appreciated.  So give a few people a treat whenever you can.

Remember that what you give out in life has an uncanny knack of coming back to you.

There’s no need to go to Iran to become convinced of this!




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