one day he did.

I’m talking about our mailman. Most days I never see him, but when I do, he looks grouchy.

“I think he hates us,” said my wife.

“Nah, it’s not personal,” I said, “he probably just hates the mail. He spends all day delivering it, and then people just throw it away. It must get to him.”

One day I noticed he’d grown a beard.

“Your beard looks great,” I said.

“It was my fiancée’s idea,” he said. Then he smiled.

“Congratulations on your engagement.”

Another smile.

Since then, if I see him when I’m out running, he waves. It’s not like we’re friends, but there’s a connection.

How do you connect with people at work?

Try a sincere compliment. The sincere part matters.  (The mailman’s beard really did look great.)

Even better: tell the other person something they may not know—a hidden strength.

The mailman already knew he had a beard. But what if I said, “My wife and I, in our last house, used to get other people’s mail all the time. That never happens with you. We really appreciate how careful you are.”

Maybe the mailman never thought of himself that way. Now, maybe he will.

It’s a gift.

Unfortunately, I can’t give this gift to our mailman. He mis-delivers mail all the time—wrong person, wrong house, wrong street. I’m often impressed by the sheer randomness.

It was the prior mail carrier who was meticulous.

I should have told her.

Tip: Who are you not telling? Tell them.

P.S. I worked as a mailman in NYC for several summers. I can’t remember if I smiled.

P.P.S.  Looking for a holiday gift? Consider my latest book, You’ve Got 8 Seconds, now available in print, kindle & audio.

It’s been translated into 5 languages, selected by a Fortune 50 company for their book club, and named one of the best biz books of the year by an obscure, but obviously brilliant, Canadian newspaper.

To get these fast tips, click here

PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful. For more info: please call 508-879-0934, or email

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