Relax – Relate – Release

I was standing in line at the pharmacy and the man in front of me was disruptive and disrespectful to the person helping him. After he left, she and her co-worker were commenting on what had happened. As I approached to get my prescription, she greeted me, zen-like, saying “Relax – relate – release.”

Of course, I was immediately drawn in, and wanted to know more about this mantra. Had they had customer service training? Did she read about this in a book? Perhaps she had seen something on the internet?

None of these things had occurred. It’s simply her way of dealing with difficult people who cross her path. She is determined not to absorb the negativity that can arise from such encounters.

I was impressed and reminded of how helpful it is to create a mental barricade against the frustration and negativity that we come across in the workplace.

Front-line workers who serve customers are usually the lowest paid people in our organizations, and typically they put up with the most grief. No signs are posted saying “no whackos permitted”. Bad bosses feel entitled to grunt and groan about their problems, while the front line serves with a smile.

Anyone can model the behavior of this simple mantra when dealing with disgruntled people. And it’s certainly a reminder to leaders that their behavior is on display.

Front-line or junior employees don’t need to be the dumping ground for whatever is going wrong in your day whether it’s at a retail establishment or in your office. Why not buck the trend and show a little kindness? You might feel better, too.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Header image by George Milton/

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