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William is an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is fascinated by research around how individuals construct and create their social realities, intrigued with the powers of creativity and innovation, and an avid proponent of outstanding service experiences. When not teaching, writing, or researching, he tries to spend time with his family and occasionally paint. He is currently completing his PhD in Management at Saint Mary’s University.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunshine 101: A Service Primer

The sun has come out today in Halifax. Finally, it's warm and bright.

People seem happier today. They are walking with a bounce in their step and have that extra little smile on their face, as if demonstrating that their internal power source is indeed solar powered. And today, they get to fill up their tanks.

As I was reading some papers out in the sun earlier, soaking up some of nature's happiness, I stopped to reflect on the power of the sun. When these rays shine down upon us, we feel better. Act better. Are ready to tackle projects and jump in with both feet. The sunshine seems to push away our blues and negativity.

I think the same thing happens when we encounter someone with sunshine in themselves, those people with sunny dispositions and positive attitudes around whom we can't help but feel warmed by.

We've all met that extra helpful cashier who seems so genuinely happy to see us that the mere process of paying for groceries became a treat. Or the server at our favourite restaurant who greets us like an old friend, even during the busiest of times.

Personally, I recall a certain toll taker, far my senior in age, who works the Maine Turnpike on the I-95. Eight hours each day, five days every week, her job is to sit in a small booth, all by herself on the busy highway, and collect fees from thousands of passing motorists. Surrounded by people while somewhat isolated. When I happened to reach her booth on that busy morning a few years back, she gave me a warm "Hello there!" as she collect my $10 bill. As I received my change, she looked directly at me, gave me a big smile, and said, "You have yourself a great day hon." Instantly, my day was better because she let her sun shine.

What are your thoughts on sun? Does its warmth make you happier and put you in a better mood?

Perhaps I'll design a service course for my students called "Sunshine 101". Or maybe I'll just spend another hour reading papers on my deck while my tanks fill up.

6 comments:

  1. I love a server in the restaurant industry who actually makes recommendations when you're torn between what to order!

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  2. Sounds like Sunshine 101 is a much-needed course - thanks for sharing this insight into something so simple yet so ultimately powerful

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  3. The sun is nature's antidepressant and it's wonderful to encounter people with naturally sunny dispositions. But I wonder if in the service industry, one should fake a sunny disposition. If it's not one's natural demeanour, is it worth plastering on a smile and choking out "Have a nice day" or better just to go with what feels more natural (as long as that's not being rude which is never acceptable in this industry)?

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  4. Alison - Amazing comment and a topic called 'emotional labour' that is extremely interesting to me.

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  5. Everyone can benefit from a little sun. Pretty sure there have been studies that show it releases a chemical which makes us happier :)

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  6. Thanks for adding to the conversation here Deb. You're right that vitamin D is so important; I often add in supplements during our longer winters, coming to and from work in the dark. I would be fascinated to see what chemical changes happen in our bodies when we're around other people with amazing 'sunny' attitudes! Cheers =)

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