Friday, September 24, 2010
When I suggested to him to have his checks written to his business instead of to "Cash" and explained that it's safer in case he lost one of them (something we were taught at the teller school and were advised to tell customers), He did not get mad. He carefully selected the nastiest condescending expressions without any profanity or apparent anger. If you wonder what kind of language he used, it went something like "Oh really, how long have you been working here as a Teller, and what makes you think that a business man like me who probably makes in one day what you make in a year, would take an advice from someone like you?" I immediately apologized to the customer and gave him his receipt. He noticed that I was not responding to his rhetorical questions but finishing the transaction and asking if there was anything else I could do for him. I kept a smile on my face and didn't show him any of what was going on inside me. He asked me for my manager. It was the first time I was asked for my manager since I started working there, or come to think of it, ever in my life. My customers were pretty much happy with me. Some of them didn't mind the wait till my window was available to come see me. I immediately pointed out at her; a strong experienced and very fair lady. He went to see her and I called the next customer. Thirty minutes later my manager came to my window and asked me this: "Did you have a nasty customer a little bit earlier?" I looked down at the stack of transactions I had that day and said that I hope I didn't cause any trouble or inconvenience. She said those words to me that I don't think I will ever forget "Well, he sent me to apologize to you because apparently he is not man enough to come back to your window and apologize in person".
Couple of months later I had another customer at my window and I guess while I was giving him my undivided attention, everyone else at the bank was trying to get my attention to warn me. I greeted the customer and said to him "How are you today?" he stopped looking at his check and looked up into my eyes and said "None of your God damn business" my smile disappeared and a huge question mark appeared on my forehead, he saw that and continued "How I am doing today is a very personal question and I don't see a reason for you to ask me that kind of question. Whether I'm doing well or not, what would that change for you? you couldn't care less about my mood or health so why do you ask? You don't even know my name so what business do you have in my health" and the lecture went on. I wasn't mad or offended, I thought it was quiet original to see someone who would be so mad if someone else asked him casually "How are you". I admit that I asked the question casually, but I see over a 100 customer a day, and my intention is to make it light and easy by being friendly. My manager, the same woman I was talking about earlier, approached my window and stood next to the customer and asked me if I were okay or if I needed any help. I assured her that it's all good. I apologized to the customer and wished him a good day for the lack of better words. Oh boy, he went off on me as he was walking out because after all, what business did I have in the kind of day he was going to have…….. etc
As I was parking the car by the Palisades Park with mom and my friend John and his son, a man in his late 70s early 80s who was driving behind me, pulled next to me and told me "You're the worst driver I have ever seen in my life" I smiled at him and said "Thank you for that observation sir, you have a good day okay!" and continued parking the car which was not even mine. Mom was sitting next to me, Marco who was 7 months old was in the kids car seat, John was sitting next to his son and holding a big table that hardly fit in that SUV. I had no choice but to drive a bit careful and slow in a 25 miles speed limit street. I was at that speed but no one drives that slow unless they have a reason. I did want to tell him "I don't think I'm the worst driver sir since you're still loose in the streets" or something like "I don't recall asking for your opinion so why don't you keep it to yourself?" but I didn't want his comment to ruin the day at the park I was about to have, even though it did affect my mood a little at the beginning. Some older people feel entitled to say what's on their mind just because they're older and they think they earned that right. Sometimes I wish people would ask before they just declare their unwanted opinion. But aren't we all guilty of that?
Those are just three of many stories we all go through. I guess learning not to take things personally is a winning attitude. I'm still training myself to do that and It's hard. I keep reminding myself that those aggressive people who express themselves, are actually accusing me of things that are a reflection of who they are, because they don't know me. And if I respond back to them with defense, I'm creating a poison that's going to come back to me and I would be sending out negative signals that are going to create more friction. So I try to keep cool and sometimes ………. I don't succeed.
Even after a decade of doing it, and even though I pretend that it doesn't bother me, it does. Yes you learn how to handle tough people in your life and to stop taking their insults personally, and you do handle it in a way that a lot of times those people realize with your attitude that they're making a mistake in attacking you and pouring their anger out on you just to feel better, and they end up apologizing to you for being rude to you, and some of them even wonder how you put up with them. But will it ever be natural the pretense that it's not bothering you? is it a technique that will stay in process? I am doing it day in and day out, but inside of me, the words that I really want to express are so different from the words I utter.
So, how are you doing today sir? thank you so much for being such a valued human being, have a wonderful life :)