They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
— Carl W. Buehner
I recently traveled for work and stayed at a fancy-pants hotel.
I don’t know what kind of hotel you usually stay in, but I frequent establishments with continental breakfasts and self-serve waffle makers. This hotel did not have a self-serve waffle maker. It had old-school doormen, mahogany paneling, and marble floors. It was old and historic. The Beatles once stayed there!
Not being the Beatles (or even the Monkees), I had to check in to my room upon arrival. When I approached the front desk—tired, disheveled, and under-dressed for this particular hotel—the young man behind the counter told me my room had not been paid for. “Yes it has,” I countered, producing a receipt I’d printed in a moment of forethought. “A reservation doesn’t mean you’ve paid for the room,” he said with a smirk. (A smirk!) “I understand the distinction,” I said. “But this is clearly a receipt.” Back and forth we went.
I’ll spare you the details, but resolving the issue took about 30 minutes and a handful of phone calls. It was only a minor glitch—I stayed for three nights and thoroughly enjoyed my stay.
But you know what I remember most about that hotel?
That dude at the front desk. It was his manner—I just couldn’t escape the feeling he was talking down to me. Now, I’ll admit that in my flannel shirt and skinny jeans, I looked like a sleep-deprived hipster lumberjack—not their typical clientele. Maybe the guy was having a bad day. Maybe his mom is sick. Maybe I was just imagining things. But that feeling of being condescended to—real or imaginary—was both the only unpleasant moment of my 72 hours at that hotel and the only thing I’m likely to remember about it in six months.
Information is powerful, but feelings are stronger and longer-lasting. As we interact with others, at work and at home, this is worth keeping in mind.