I get yelled at fairly frequently in the course of my job.
Not verbally, although I’m back to working a bit more on phones so who knows when that will come back. I get aggressive, upset, absolutely emotional emails from business owners, and it’s my job to bite back any response of my own (even if they’re attacking me directly, like the woman who said that she hoped that Facebook took away all of my coworkers’ jobs) and respond politely, try to talk them down, or let it go.
I could write a book on how much it surprises me when grown people can’t take rejection, even light rejection, well. I’m lucky in this regard–I’ve picked areas of focus in my life that are full of rejection, and you either go crazy or learn not to take it personally pretty fast. I think that everyone should be forced to audition once in a while, honestly. You learn a lot about false entitlement and about being gracious and understanding. What I don’t like is that apparently some people have had bad behavior reinforced. The man who responds with vitriol to a simple, nicely-phrased email has probably gotten results from behaving like that before. They say that you can judge a man’s character by how he treats people in service positions, and far be it from me to take that test from the world. But I think there should be some new rules.
I told my writing partner the other day that once our theatre company is up and going, I want to institute a customer service policy based on a sort of feedback loop. We start out as politely as possible, but our employees are allowed to respond to people at exactly the level of rudeness that they give us. If they’re nice and trying to understand, although disappointed about, say, a sold out show, we will be kind and sympathetic. Even if they’re angry, we’ll try to help them understand, because anger is a justifiable emotion. Rudeness isn’t. If they’re angry and rude, or just plain rude, then guess what? We will be too.
I know, I know, you’re supposed to be the bigger person, turn the other cheek, etc. etc. I just don’t like the idea that by being the bigger person, we’re conditioning people to think that behavior like this is acceptable. I don’t care what you make in a year, you need to be held accountable for the way you treat human beings. Trust me. This will end up helping you.
One nice thing about customer service is dealing with the people who are truly grateful for your help, the people who are perfectly nice and who you get to help. That’s probably around 90% of the people I deal with, actually. I freakin’ love you guys. And I’ll admit it–for every bully I talk to, I appreciate you more.
This was going to be an entry about how long it takes to process emotions, thoughts, and decisions, but I’ll save that for another time. For now: Tip your waiters. Thank the security guards. Be nice to customer support representatives. At the very least, it’ll impress that hot chick standing two feet away from you.