Have you noticed people often seem frustrated, anxious, and quick to anger these days? Maybe you have been on the receiving end of bad behavior, or maybe you have been the one sharing your frustration? With worldwide pandemics, economic uncertainty, political and ideological battles, and worse, warfare, it is no wonder so many are on edge and under pressure. What can be done? Maybe it can start with something as simple as a pause?
JuliAne Burton, Director of Member Services, at Associated Builders and Contractors of Utah told me the last training I did completely changed the way she communicates under pressure. She had a gift card to a local spa. She decided she wanted to use the credit on hair products instead of spa services. The customer service representative was very annoyed that JuliAne was not using her credit on services. She wasn’t sure that was allowed. JuliAne was very patient and suggested that the young lady just run the gift card to see if it would apply to products, if not, she would use her credit card. The CSR reluctantly agreed, and the card worked.
What happened next was magic! JuliAne then asked if the CSR could check what the balance was on the gift card. She thought this was a reasonable request. To her surprise, the young girl responded with anger and disdain. JuliAne was shocked, and instead of engaging in that moment of frustration, she walked away. After she had practiced the pause, she returned to the cash register and found the manager waiting who had overheard the interaction. The manager was sincerely apologetic and asked if she could help her with her request. JuliAne said she wanted to talk directly with the young employee to see if they could handle it together.
When she talked to her, the girl was more responsive and apologized for her behavior. My friend said that she was seeking help and kindness from the CSR. She shared that the world can be a stressful place right now with so many people feeling anxious and triggered. Normally in a situation like this, she would have walked away frustrated and upset that she did not accomplish anything. Instead, after the pause, JuliAne came back calm, and the CSR agreed to check the balance. The balance was $30 which my friend donated to the young girl in an act of love and kindness. When this happened, the young cashier expressed the desire to hug JuliAne and emotionally thank her.
How will the world be a kinder and gentler place if we respond to mistreatment, judgment, and bias in kind? But if we take a break, step back and respond with kindness, we will move the needle to a better world. That day JuliAne accomplished two things: She helped herself, while helping others.