Polite persistence


I recently visited the British Museum and happened to leave my credit card where you collect the audio guide. After leaving the museum I went to the pub for Sunday roast. As I went to pay the bill, I discovered I had left my credit card behind. Fortunately, someone else paid the bill and I remembered where I last used it. I returned to the museum at 5:25pm with five minutes to spare before closing.

The security guard didn’t want to let me in so I decided to practice calm command and use Heartstyles’ Above The Line behaviours, Relating and Compassionate, to achieve the goal of getting past the guard to retrieve my card. I explained that I had left my card behind, that I’m a member of the British Museum and that it would be great if I could just go back and retrieve the card. He was gracious and let me in.

I discovered the exhibition entrance locked so went to the gift shop near the exit, waited for someone to come out, then entered through the exit. I found another guard clearing people out of the exhibition and asked him to help me. Once again, I was polite and used Relating and Compassionate behaviours, understanding that he had a job to do, that he wanted to get home and that I was pestering him to do the opposite.

This guard was also gracious and agreed to return to where I had left my card. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get me in as he didn’t have the keys for that section so he sent me on to the information desk. I explained my situation (again!) and they handed me a form to fill in. They were following due process, they had a job to do and they were probably wishing they could go home now that it was well past 5:30pm.

I could have become forceful, changed my tone and used the fact that I’m a museum member as bargaining power however I stayed calm and said “You probably want to get home right now and I’d really appreciate it if one of your security guards could take me to the exhibition entrance. I know exactly what I did with my card and I’m sure if it hasn’t been handed into the information desk it will still be there.” The attendant’s entire energy changed. They took back the form, found another security guard to take me back to the entrance, opened the exhibition and, finally, there was my credit card!

The return journey with card in hand was wonderful. I returned to the information desk, thanked the attendant, returned to the museum and did everything I could to find the security guard who first let me in. I showed him my credit card and thanked him very much. He said it made his day that somebody would come back and thank him. It was a good lesson for me to practice calm command, to stay Above The Line and to be authentic as I achieved my goal.

Living Above The Line and polite persistence pay off!

Stephen Klemich [CEO, Founder]


HR Summit podcast


Listen to Stephen Klemich talk about how to transform culture in the workplace. Podcast in association with the HR Directors Summit.



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