Ton related a story of how an empathetic call nine years ago had an outsized effect:
The fate of anyone working to change something in how government works, or any larger organisation or system really, is that most often you’re not around to see the effects. Small course changes can take years to become noticeable shifts, and by that time no-one will remember where that started or who helped start it.
I’m a strong believer in making calls to reinforce the positive; it’s the companion to my equal and opposite tendency, learned at my father’s knee, to criticize the bad vociferously. Beyond the ripple effects of paying it forward that Ton describes, there is the simple pleasure of calling someone to tell them you appreciated their service, or noticed them going the extra mile, or recognized their going out of their way, or that you saw them doing good when others were being critical. It’s something that’s done so seldom that you will almost always make someone’s day.
I often go to the instore bakery counter at my local grocery store when no bread is out on the shelf yet, to inquire if it is ready. Usually it just needs to be sliced and bagged. While I wait for it, I admire the glass case of decorated cakes (I do not buy cakes but admire the decoration skill involved.) The cake decorator is often the bakery person who comes to find out what I want. One day recently, I told her how much I admired her cake decorating talent - and she just beamed. It felt good just to tell her and see her smile!