So, we all know that there are certain protocols that must be present in the service-worker/customer relationship. Things like courtesy, empathy, helpfulness, and general kindness are just a few of the unspoken staples of a service relationship that, when missing on any level, can cause a firestorm of complaints, confusion, dissatisfaction, and frustration, at the very least. But what of the relationship between coworkers? What happens when we upstanding customer service providers forget ourselves when dealing with others in our work group?
She said what?
Often, in the midst of a busy work day, one can find oneself in need of assistance from others. Sadly, in most cases, you cannot select these people. They are randomly selected for you, which means that you have to endure any personality quirks that peek out from under the rock that is their cubicle. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be a hiring manager, in which case, you can choose whom you employ. But even then, you never really know who you’re looking at on the other side of your desk behind the shiny, pristine resume. But I digress.
So I found myself in need of assistance from a person at work who I decided that I didn’t really care for, which was my first mistake. That not withstanding, when in the midst of uncomfortable interaction, I generally try to lighten the mood with a little jocularity. So I approached this person whose face was buried in her monitor, and said, “Hey, don’t get too close, you might…” And before I could finish, she spun around and said, “I have a conference call in less that 2 minutes so…”
Sticks and Stones
Did you ever have that sensation when something makes you so mad that you can actually feel your blood pressure rise? As I stared at her in utter disbelief, I decided it best for me to simply state my purpose and move on, as I did need the job at the time and couldn’t hold myself responsible for any outcomes if I chose to act differently.
As I walked away, having gotten an answer to my question, I found myself making excuses for her rudeness. ‘She’s having a bad day’, ‘She just came from a funeral’, ‘She’s really tired ‘, ‘She’s pregnant’. But then I thought, even if those conditions existed, she could at least acknowledge her rudeness and apologize. So I told myself that this is exactly what she would do. So far, it’s been 3 years. I’m sure she’ll get around to it, even though she’s left the company. The truth is, she was a jerk, and it’s OK, because jerks exist. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and genders and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, unless you get lucky, like I did, and they leave the company.
I’d like to think that the incident that I described above had no effect on me, but let’s face facts…it was 3 years ago and here I am writing a blog post about it. The good news is that I’ve managed to avoid allowing it to send me into a great depression but, honestly, we all remember these things. We are able to mentally push them to the side but they impact our decisions in ways that we never really stop to consider. My advice…dilute it. Bury these thoughts in so much positive that you don’t give yourself time to dwell on them. What’s the best way to start? Smile!
Smile? Yes. Smile. It does a few things that are unexpected when given a situation:
First, it completely throws off the person that is being rude to you. They’re not expecting that your reaction to their rudeness would be a positive one. Often times, rude people are looking for a fight. If you give it to them, you’ve played right into their hand. If you smile at them, they’ll wonder and may even ask you what’s so funny. Then you get to walk away, leaving them wondering. Petty, I know, but sometimes you have to do what makes you feel good!
Next, it may actually allow you to find the humor in your adversary’s behavior. Did you ever notice how silly someone looks when they’re being nasty? Really…take a look next time. Remember to smile first. That will help to clarify.
Lastly, smiling sparks your imagination, the most important tool in your arsenal. With your imagination, you can invent all sorts of crazy reasons why your snotty coworker is having a problem with you. You can also think of ways that you might punish their rudeness. Just don’t act on these as we wouldn’t want you to lose your job. They’re certainly not worth all of that.
And with that
The only thing that you can control continuously is your actions and your attitudes. You decide how things make you feel. You decide where your anger is place. You decide how to work with others. Avoid giving others the power to negatively impact your day. Smile, and throw them completely off their game. Make them wonder why you’re always so happy. It might even be contagious.
Now, some of you might read this and think that I’m granting you permission to be a door mat for others. Absolutely not. State your case as needed but pick and choose your battles. There is no need to get frustrated over minor interactions. Just smile, roll your eyes, shake your head, and go read something funny, like a comic, or the latest poll results for our current presidential candidates.