Several years ago I was shopping with my sister. The shoe department at our favorite store was having a sale and it was a mad house. We each tried on several pair waiting an extended period of time for each pair as the woman helping us was juggling several customers. Finally we made our decisions and were ready to buy. We had to wait again for a cash register to check out. Finally it was our turn and we stood and watched our sales lady, who had not been overly enthusiastic at any point in our dealings, enter our transaction and slam our shoe boxes on the counter and in general be slightly hostile about the whole thing. I was getting ready to make some snappy comment about not banging my shoes around so harshly. But just before I did I paused to look around and noticed how crowded the place was and wondered how many times she had been snapped at that day. So instead of getting mad at her I simply pointed out the obvious, “wow it is busy today, have you been here long?” The immediate change in her attitude and behavior was frankly startling. She became calm and friendly, stopped banging the lids of the shoe boxes down and even smiled at me as I took my purchase.
I was reminded of this incident recently when a friend of my son’s posted a similar story on facebook. Her story involved watching a customer be rude to a salesperson and the whole thing causing her to be late but choosing to be kind rather than impatient and having the person thank her for being such a great customer that day.
At the time of my shoe buying incident I was fully entrenched in homemaker world and had never worked retail. Now that I work I have had those very days of working long hours, being yelled at by multiple customers and not having the energy to be friendly to the others. Of course at home I did have to deal with cranky people (toddlers, pre-teens, teens) every day and some days I was that cranky sales person who had been working too long and been yelled at too many times to be cheerful and friendly to others.
This is the part where I could write something preachy about how we treat each other, being loving to one another. The verse, “love your neighbors as yourself” comes to mind as a possible application verse here. “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes” seems like a good application. But I think it is all so obvious and you are all so smart I don’t have to say much here. I am going to just simply say that while we can’t choose how people treat us, we can choose how we respond to them. I have chosen to respond positively and I have chosen to respond negatively (you may notice I didn’t share those stories today…). I am not perfect but I do strive to do my best, to honor God both at home and at work as I deal with people.
How are you responding to stressful situations and poor customer service today?