I once knew someone who worked at my local library branch who had a Zen-like response to annoying people. Janey had a mantra, which was, “Relax – relate – release.”
When she shared this with me, I was immediately drawn in and wanted to know more about this 3-step mantra. Had she gone through customer service training? Did she read about this in a book? Perhaps she had seen something on the internet?
Actually, none of these things had occurred. It was simply her way of dealing with difficult people who crossed her path. She was 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 can come across in the workplace as well as our everyday life.
I was reminded of Janey because I recently witnessed an ugly scene between a front-line worker and a customer that ended badly. It was uncomfortable for all of us who witnessed it.
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”. People 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. It surely beats being argumentative and confrontational.
It’s also important to remember that front-line employees don’t need to be the dumping ground for whatever is going wrong in your workday. Why not buck the trend and show a little kindness? You might feel better, too.
Header image by Andrea Piacuadio/Pexels.