I have a child and that means that I have had to work part time and evenings for nearly all of my twenties and early thirties. I’m looking forward to the day when I can waltz into a normal office job, but for the time being I’m stuck with the sucky jobs that very few people actually like. I’m talking the retail and the hospitality jobs that are low pay and sometimes really thankless. Some of these jobs are amazing but I bet there are more people complaining about them than raving about how great they are!
But are they really that bad? There are some people out there who seem to love them; always happy and joyful when the rest of us are grumbling about nasty customers and physically demanding tasks. It got me thinking about how these people do it. How do they remain so perky when the rest of us feel like we are on our knees?
And after lots of reading and watching talks and trying things out myself I have realised that kindness and caring is the key. I thought that was a bit of a cop out of an answer but it really is true and this is why.
As human beings, we are wired to be social and to live and work in community. The world as it is, makes this soooooo hard to do. It just takes one bad thing to happen in your day and your mood is ruined and you are far more likely to pass on those bad vibes to the checkout girl who is taking her time scanning your shopping!
But what if that checkout girl breaks the chain of ill will? What if she smiles back at the angry customer and at least tries to be pleasant? It’s not necessarily going to appease the angry customer but it might do. And if the next person that he comes into contact with is also very pleasant, it might have even more of an effect. If everybody he comes into contact with gives him excellent service and a smile it’s going to be hard for him to stay mad at the world at large.
And then the effect on the checkout girl is positive too. Just the act of smiling and being nice floods our bodies and minds with all those happy chemicals. Providing the customer doesn’t scream at her she can just carry on with the next customer and forget about him, knowing that, at least she has done the very best that she can.
The positivity of that checkout girl has a snowball effect, gathering more speed and more force for both her and the people around her. It’s infectious and that is a very powerful thing.
The point is that we can’t counter bad behaviour with more bad behaviour. It just doesn’t make anything better. We need to make a mental note that we should come out of every interaction having made a positive difference in that person’s day. We should never leave somebody having made their day worse.
We also feel happier and more successful when we behave in this way. It’s truly very difficult when we deal with droves of nasty customers, but those that are happy and joyful in their ‘sucky’ jobs are the ones that don’t let that first one completely deflate them and cause them to be ‘off’ with everybody else. Feeling like you have made everybody’s day better is the ultimate way to feel successful too. Stop measuring your success in money and measure it in how good you feel!
And funnily enough, it is the happy and positive people who are less stressed and more likeable and ultimately more likely to get promoted through the ranks (if they want it, because let’s face it, they’re normally pretty happy anywhere!).
So next time you have a crappy customer, smile and wish them a nice day. At least you can feel good within yourself even if they choose to remain miserable and angry.
Cheeky little bonus poem
You sometimes need to give a smile,
And go the extra freaking mile,
When someone’s getting on your wick,
And being quite the little pr*ck.
Just ask them how their day has been,
And until they’re gone, keep your language clean.