Today in Toastmasters, I gave a speech telling a moral of a story. It is about how a grumpy old man drive away children playing outside his house.
Mr. Smith is successful businessman. He is the boss of a small but profitable company in town. He has one strange habit. He couldn’t stand noise. He wants the place nice and quiet all the time. He is the boss of the company, so his employee has to lower their voice all the time. Everything is fine until the day he retire. In the first day of his retirement, he woke up by noise outside of his house. He looked through the window. He saw children form the neighborhood are playing outside his house. The children are riding bicycling, chasing each other around, yelling and screaming and making lots of noise. The noise is driving Mr. Smith crazy. He wants to go outside and tell the kids to shut up and leave him alone. As a business man, he knew it won’t work. The kids will simply ignore him and label him the grumpy old man in the block, and he will being a laugh stocks among the neighbors. So he came up with an idea.
He go outside of his house and gathering the children around. He says to them, “I love having children play outside of my house, your laughters really cheers up my day. Here is 25 cents for each of you to show my gratitudes. Please come and play for me more.” Receiving the money, the children are cheer in joy and continue their play. The next day, Mr Smith gather the children outside his house again and says, “Thank you so much for play for me. However, I am a retired old man, I cannot afford much money. Here is 15 cents for each of you showing my sincerity.” The children are a little dismay about the cut in the reward, but 15 cents is still go money, so they disband in joy and continue their play. On the third day, Mr. Smith gather the children again and says, “I am really broke today and I can only afford 5 cents to have you kids playing for me.” At the point, the children are really upset for receiving so little money and they tell Mr. Smith, “What! Only 5 cents. What a mean old man. We are not going to play for you anymore. Let move out play in the end of the street.” Finally, Mr. Smith can enjoy his relaxing, nice and quiet day.
The moral of this story: Sometimes the withdraw of positive reinforcement is as effective as negative reinforcement. Another moral of this story: Don’t get conditioned for doing something that you like. Remember why you do it in the first place, you do it for the fun of doing it, not other rewards. The rewards are just bonus, don’t let it bother you.