Working in Customer Service for many years has taught me countless valuable lessons, but one of the most valuable is…”You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I first heard this proverbial saying from my mother, at a very young age, when I was trying to get my little sister to clean my room. I kept threatening her with “beating her up,” or taking away her favorite doll. My sister wasn’t budging, and was getting angry as the “sibling war” ensued. It seemed that no matter what, I was going to have to clean my room myself.

Obviously all of this was taking place within earshot of my mother, and this is when she took me aside and said, “Son, remember, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” I was probably only about 9 or 10 years old at the time, and I didn’t know what the heck my mom meant.

Why would I want to catch any flies now? I just want to get my room cleaned.

I’m sure I had an annoyed and confused look on my face when I asked her, “What are you talking about, Mom?”

“Sit down son, let me try to explain this to you.” Reluctantly, I took a seat (and I’m thankful I did) because I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life.

Mom began, “If you really want your sister to help you clean your room, don’t threaten her, and don’t be mean. Try being nice to her. Tell her you will take her to the park tomorrow, or that you will watch cartoons with her. You know how she likes to do these things, and she loves to hang out, and be with her big brother. It will be much easier to get what you want, if you try being nice to her. You really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Go on, let’s see, I bet it will work.”

Well, I really don’t remember if my sister helped me clean my room, but I do remember my mother’s words. They have stuck with me, and I do my best at trying to adhere to my mom’s wisdom.

I apply this old cliche to all aspects of my life, but have found it most valuable in my customer service work. Treat people nice, treat people with respect, listen to them, sympathize an empathize with them. Try to find out what they want and need, then work on a solution to address and resolve their issues and concerns.

Thanks Mom.