You might assume from the above title that this post is going to be a few hundred words on positive thinking, or some lame garb about how wonderful everything can be, without any effort on our part at all. The thing is, if that’s what you’re looking for, you might want to look elsewhere. Here, you’ll find something to think about, that will genuinely help you have a better life, and not something that’s just a temporary fix, to a shitty day.
The only snag, is you do actually need to do some of the work. Let’s start with having a rethink on attitude. Right now (as you might have guessed) I have a bit of an attitude. Even so, it’s as good a time to write as any, because we are likely to get the truth, rather than the people pleasing bullshit spouted elsewhere. Attitude is something to manage and use productively.
Now, the reason I’ve got a bad attitude this morning is because I’ve allowed someone else’s mood to infect me. I could easily have chosen to ignore this person’s attitude – like water off a duck’s back – or, as is the case, use this morning’s upset as fodder for this post! So let’s do it.
Here’s the story. In order to keep myself grounded, and earn a little extra pocket money, I spend my mornings as a newsagent managing a store. One of the services we offer is parcel collection. You may have used this facility yourself. No money changes hands, however, the store does earn a fraction of a penny in commission on each transaction. With such small commissions involved, the hope is, customers collecting parcels spend whilst in the store, they rarely do. Yet we do look to be as polite and warm as possible in the hope they’ll part with some dosh.
Anyway, in walks a customer who approaches the counter throwing down a piece of barcoded paper as they do. Looking at it, and then me, they ask for their parcel. I then go through the process of asking for name and ID so I can search for it. The customer in question then states, in a very aggressive and agitated manner:
“This store is the most problematic when it comes to collecting parcels!”
I reply by pointing out that they’d probably not be thinking that if we’d had it stolen.
I’m then told I should be much more polite when dealing with customers, not make them feel like they’re trying to steal something, and be much calmer. I’m so taken aback by this I simply say nothing further and the customer leaves the store. On reflection, remaining quiet throughout the whole encounter, would have been a far better policy; we live and learn do we not?
“The alternative, to being infected by the attitude of others, is obviously the ability to simply shrug off this kind of encounter. This ability is gained through some very simple understandings.”
Firstly – and staying with the example of my customer – this particular individual had the expectation that the process of collecting a parcel was going to be somewhat problematic. To just throw a barcoded piece of paper on the counter is bound to elicit further questions. I’m unable to read barcodes and the till doesn’t disclose any details when its scanned. It just acknowledges that someone wants to collect a parcel. It’s not until I’ve found the parcel, through eliciting a name, that I can then scan the corresponding barcode. Even then details are not supplied on the till.
So asking for a name was necessary, and would have been, on all the previous problematic encounters they’d had before. ID is also required to ensure the correct person is given the item. All of this is a given, so seeing this process as problematic, is the result of poor expectations. We find what we seek through our expectations.
The second consideration comes in respect of the advice I was given: I should be calmer when dealing with customers. Interestingly enough I woke this morning feeling very calm, carrying out my daily routines in an almost sleepy fashion. Over the years, of filling some of my time doing mundane jobs (bit of a surfers attitude to work these days: it’s a means to life not life itself) I’ve gained the ability to switch off. I do it in my sleep.
“If you’re a calm, unassuming kind of person, you may find yourself the object for other people’s problems. You act as a sounding board. A void to swallow up all the shit from the sewer.”
Potentially, this calm manner, does tend to faze people a little bit, especially if they’re the kind of person who doesn’t deal with stress very well. Anyway, suffice to say, I felt very calm indeed. Who was it that was talking and acting in a stressed, agitated and aggressive manner? That’s right, the customer. So once again we have confirmation of the following philosophy: All Criticism Is Self Criticism. A classic example of the simple psychology of projection.
“A problematic encounter is experienced when we behave aggressively with unrealistic expectations. On an unconscious level, problems may well be what we seek, and have nothing whatsoever to do with those around us.”
In terms of the effort we must exert to have calmer, less stressful encounters with others, we must be prepared to look within. A little effort is required. A little effort to find your inner Gold Please. Relax your package is here.