In every industry I’ve worked in, customer service has played a big role in my daily responsibilities. Let’s face it, no matter where you work or what field you are in you’re going to have to interact with people to some degree. You’re going to encounter customers, clients, coworkers, vendors, service providers…You can’t avoid human interaction (as much as we want to some times).
I’ve worked a bunch of different jobs. I’ve been a cashier, a temp, a receptionist, an assistant, an office manager, a retail manager, a server, a wedding planner, graphic designer, etc. In every industry, I’ve been treated like a second rate citizen in some way.
Age has been an issue. I started my first business when I was 19. At the rip age (kidding) of 19, no one really treated me with respect. They thought I was too young to hire. As a service provider people thought that just because I’m providing them with a service I’m their slave. Even though my services are clearly spelled out in our agreement. I am very firm about going above and beyond for my clients, but sometimes that translates to people that me not responding at 2 am means I don’t care about their needs. People have stigmatized me because of my job title. People think that because I’m serving food means I’m not going anywhere in life or I can’t be treated with respect. They think I’m not allowed to make mistakes because they should “always be right.” Even if I have family issues or health issues I have to be smiling, pleasant, and cater to their every need no matter what. They think it’s their way and don’t think I deserve to be heard. Several industries I work in have also been a factor. I’ve worked in male dominated industries. When they hear my voice or see me in person they assume I’m someone’s secretary. Even if I was, shouldn’t you treat me with respect?
My point here isn’t to complain, it’s to just say that everyone has something going on in their lives. Lots of people have treated me rudely. I’ve been yelled at, cussed out, treated unfairly, and pressured to do something I didn’t want to do. Customers have done it, superiors have done it, colleagues have done it. A long, long time ago I told myself hat if I ever became someone’s boss I would never treat my team the way I was treated. Why? Because there is always a reason for someone’s attitude and actions. If someone is angry or rude toward me I choose to still show them kindness and grace. I choose not to retaliate to their anger.
I’ll use one situation as an example. When my mom was really sick and getting cancer treatments it really hit me hard. But owning a business meant I had to keep working which limited my time to spend with her. Being a server at our restaurant I have to be smiling, pleasant, and focused on customers even if I was having family issues. Even if I was dying inside, I had to pretend to be happy and like nothing was wrong on the outside.
But I choose to be that way. I don’t want my hardships in life to have an effect on people’s days. I don’t want to push my stress and negativity onto anyone. If I were to reverse the roll and be a customer but going through my family issues, I would want someone or something to help brighten my day. I always try to see the other side of the story.
Everyone has something they struggle with. We all do. Financial problems, family issues, marital, health, personal, work…everyone has something. So be kind to others even if they’re rude to you. And really mean it. Your constant kindness might change someone’s day for the better.