A few summers ago I broke my wrist on a cattle drive in Montana.

On my return to Birmingham I was referred to hospital to have the break re-set and a titanium splint inserted. My big worry was that I would be detected every time that I went through airport security on my international travels. Fortunately, that has not occurred.

What I really appreciated about my treatment was the way my surgeon, Simon Tan, related to me. I consider myself a professional, and obviously a surgeon is a professional, too.

However, in this context I was a patient and normally that is how I would feel I was being treated. In this case, though, I felt honoured as a fellow professional. The attitude that Mr Tan took towards me, the respect and the trouble he took over explaining all the details of the break and the treatment, all took place on a one-to one adult basis.

I hope, and believe, that this special health service worker actually treated everybody exactly the same.

Recently I was flying from Phuket to Bangkok. A Thai lady was sitting next to me with her young son. She asked me whether I had been on holiday and explained that she lived in Hong Kong and was returning home. There was something very special about the manner in which this stranger addressed me. Once again it was as if we were equals – worthy adults who might have known each other for years. 

Not only did this conversation honour me, but it indicated great self confidence and self esteem on the part of the lady.

I was very struck by this short interaction. A couple of adults had treated me like this when I was a teenager. The difference is subtle but significant.

I have been pondering since what is the difference between these interactions and normal conversations between adults. How can I honour and respect people when I meet them in the way the Mr Tan and the lady from Thailand did to me?