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What do you get for free that makes other people jealous?

I get stuff for free all the time. I’m not talking about expensive swag, but lots of little things that just make life more pleasant.

For instance, last night I was at the mall (a rarity for me) and I went into a store called “Dip It” that sells sweets dipped in chocolate. I decided to purchase a caramel apple, and was chatting with the guy behind the counter. I said, “There’s nothing bad about a caramel apple, except missing out on it!” He loved that so much that he actually wrote it down and said that I should watch the electronic sign outside the store, because he’s going to put that up as his new slogan for the next month! He told me that when I see it, I should come back and remind him, and he’ll give me another apple of my choice. In addition to that, he gave me two huge chocolate dipped strawberries just because he liked me.

Earlier this week I had a friend call me to go with her to a taping of the game show “Family Feud”. Her husband had to drop out at the last minute, and she had to find someone she could stand to be paired with for 6 hours. It turned out to be a super fun day, and afterward we went to the Margaritaville restaurant at Universal Citywalk. It was Tuesday so the place was slow, and we got to talking with the manager. He liked us so much he comped us an appetizer.

It’s not unusual for me to get extra discounts at clothing stores, additional services from aestheticians, massage therapists and the car wash. I have buddies at the local Staples copy center that always find discounts when I’m doing work for clients. Maybe everybody gets these kinds of privileges, but I don’t think so.

How do I do it? There’s no magic. I’m just nice to people. I always make an effort to connect with others on an authentic level and to leave them happier than before I was there. Even if there’s a problem during a transaction I try to be firm about my position, but not mean. I usually end up on the better side of the deal, because people are willing to do a little extra when they sense you aren’t out to cheat them or hurt their business. I’m also willing to ASK for a discount. The worst they can do is say No, so why not? I don’t do it everywhere, just at places where I feel like there’s a little wiggle room on the price. It works more often than not.

When I tell people about getting stuff for free or additional services, they often seem jealous, and it makes me wonder how they are treating the people they interact with. Do they actually SEE the waitress, or is she just part of the background? Do they realize that the guy drying the car at the car wash depends on tips to make ends meet? The biggest compliment you can give someone in a service profession is your repeat business, so be gracious and give them the opportunity to be their best, and usually they won’t disappoint. And then you won’t have to be jealous, because you’ll be enjoying a lot of perks too!