#928: Complain nicely

06 Jan

I have sincere sympathy for people in the customer service field because I know how much it sucks. Most of the jobs I’ve had were not officially in customer service, but I’ve had to do enough speaking with angry customers to know that doing that all day would be miserable for me.

So I try not to be intentionally mean whenever I need to complain about a service. But if I’m already angry–and I am, if it’s driven me to make the effort to contact someone about it–I have a tough time controlling my tone. I’ll tell the person I know it’s not their fault, but my tone will sound like I think it is. I’m not proud of that.

Yesterday, when the pool schedule posted online was wrong, leading me to believe it was open for swimming when it wasn’t, and leading me to change into my bathing suit and take a shower before finding out the schedule was wrong, I was angry. I had to put my clothes back on (never fun when you’re starting out with wet skin) and go out into the cold night, after wasting a half hour of my limited free time during the first week back at work after the holidays.

Yes, I was angry.

But instead of approaching the staff member with anger in my voice, I played the part of a nice human being. I really felt like someone else, talking sweetly (or as sweetly as my lower-pitched voice can ever sound), nodding understandingly, listening compassionately to the explanation, and accepting the apology graciously. And by the end of the exchange, I wasn’t even that angry anymore. My act as a calm, rational person somehow calmed my rage. All of the things all of the experts always say about the importance of breathing and living in the moment might actually hold some truth.

I don’t like to go for that “new year, new you” stuff because I’m not sure you can suddenly reinvent yourself at the turn of a calendar page. At the same time, though, I want to believe you can. I’d like to think you can change your path at any time throughout the year. That’s why I started this blog in the first place, for a fresh start and a new way of thinking.

So I’d also like to think that I suddenly changed myself into a kind complainer yesterday. There are literally no downsides if that’s true, so I’m going to go with it for now.

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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in People


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