Yes ma’am. Yes sir. I heard that a lot in the last four days in Savannah, GA. At first if felt a little strange, then I grew to love it. There were other signs of the gracious nature of the south: like when the receptionist at the front desk of our hotel greeted us like we were long-lost friends, or the cab driver who obviously loves his city and shook our hands with a big smile when dropping us at the airport.
One of my first experiences was the server at a diner who explained with a smile, “Honey, this is the south. Y’all only get sweet tea”, when unsweetened iced tea was requested at lunch. Though the drink I wanted was not available I felt honored somehow. (Or perhaps it’s the stately gorgeous trees with moss hanging from the branches that invites relaxed and engaging behavior?)
It did not matter that it was 96 degrees with humidity to match, the folks we talked with gave off a feeling of gracious liveliness, whether resident or tourist. I am not sure which came first. Did the happy tourists help to create the gracious culture, or visa versa? I’d wager that the culture came first. The joyful zest for life that I felt from the people who live in Savannah seems deeper than can be gotten with a few days of vacation.
I don’t think that “yes mam and yes sir” will come across well in New England. So I find myself looking for ways to treat others with that same feeling of mutual respect that taking the time to say “yes sir” engenders.
Here are a couple of ideas:
- Listen more fully. Let the other person complete their sentence, and then pause some more.
- Let go of trying to figure out my response while the other person is talking
- Let some cars into the line of traffic ahead of me, or graciously wait for a pedestrian to make up their mind whether they are going to cross the street
- Remember that it’s okay to have a different opinion than the others, just be gracious and respectful
Please comment below so that others might benefit from your practices.
My best wishes for your continued success.