Today, while at Wal-Mart for my weekly grocery trip, I had to use the restroom. When I got all the way to the back bathrooms, I noticed an elderly cleaning lady with her big mop and bucket in the doorway...I politely asked her if she needed me to go to the restrooms upfront (hoping she would say no...i really had to go) and she never looked up from mopping and quietly said, "no", and scooted her big rolling mop bucket out of my way. The bathroom was spotless and smelled "clean".
While in the restroom, I thought about how she wasn't very friendly, and instead of being annoyed, I put myself in her shoes. Maybe she doesn't feel that "making eye contact" would matter, maybe her back is killing her from cleaning...SO...I decided to let her manager know how nicely cleaned the restrooms were. On my way out, I asked her for the name of her manager and she hesitated for a sec, then worriedly stated his name. I was caught off guard that maybe she thinks I was planning a complaint. I immediately complimented her and said that I'd like to let the manager know what a great job she was doing. She burst out into tears...she was smiling by this time, so I assume they were happy tears, but how sad is that? As she composed herself, I said that she deserved some major credit for her job, because I clean bathrooms at home just for "my" family and it is hard work! She thanked me repeatedly and I thanked her back.
The lady at the service desk said that "positive remarks" are HUGE for them, all the more reason to find someone to compliment on each visit. Sometimes you may have to look hard, but I'm sure there is someone who could really use a kind word :)