Stressful times can have a way of hanging like a cloud over our daily interactions. And despite the best intentions, we are all susceptible to fixating on the cumulative adversity we face every day.
Whether you’re worried about your health, safety, equal opportunity, the upcoming election, your finances, the education of your children, your job, the economy or the weather; it can sometimes feel urgently necessary to find an outlet and channel all that emotion at once.
Most of us don’t want to unload this baggage on our families, friends or co-workers. We have connections to those people. We know the ways that they may be hurting too. So, when anger and frustration go unchecked, where does all that negativity go?
The Service Industry.
We see it every day. As customers, team members, managers, and leaders we’ve all witnessed emotions spilling over right into the laps of folks just trying to do their job representing a company or business. In the grocery store, at restaurants, clinics, hotels, gyms and any place where customer service and human interaction reign supreme.
More and more it seems like people are quick to reduce those serving us to a just a uniform or a brand.
And while we can spend all day talking about why, we here at Living Every Minute think it’s better to focus on what we can do about it. So let’s get to work.
Leaders. It starts with you. Set the example for your team members. It’s your job to mitigate the effects that aggressive customer behavior can have on your team. Talk through their experiences with them. Remind them that every disgruntled customer is likely carrying an unseen burden that affects their interactions. Don’t endorse the behavior, the customer isn’t “always right.” But sometimes, the customer needs more than just a service from us. They need us to serve…and there’s a difference.
Help your team maintain a global perspective on humanity so they won’t adopt the same cycle of negativity they just experienced.
Continually reinforce how important their role is. Celebrate positive performance and foster energy throughout your team. Empowered team members are productive and provide outstanding customer service. Demoralized employees will sink your business.
Co-Workers. Watch out for one another. Listen to the language and mannerisms of your teammates. If you feel the energy level dip, or a negative tone creep in: intervene. Don’t hesitate. Be respectful of your chain of command, but team morale is everyone’s responsibility. The team will only be as strong as you make it. At the end of the day, the time and energy you spend investing in your coworkers is an investment in yourself.
Team Members. Someone, someday is going to mishandle a conversation with you. It’s probably already happened. Plato once said,
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
You can’t control their behavior. So, control your response. Focus on process improvement:
1. Can we improve our services based on what we observed in this situation?
2. Is there anything we could have done differently today? What am I committed to doing from here on out?
3. What positive things can I take away from this experience?
Own your job…not someone else’s baggage and have the perspective to understand the difference.
Customers. We’re all in this together. Remember the difference between a business, a service, and the people who work there. When you interact with the people serving you, remember they are human. Look them in the eyes and see the you in them. When frustrated by poor performance or engaged in a dispute, remember, aggression is the best way you can ensure that you won’t get what you want.
Every moment is a teachable one. Every customer is a teacher. The curriculum is how a service or business can best meet your needs. If you approach your interactions with that mentality you will consistently get the best service anyone could ever ask for. Teach with kindness and patience. You may just find that a moment of potential stress, turns into the best moment of your day.
Living Every Minute,
CEO, Dr Tim International