In participation with the A to Z Blog Challenge for 2016, I’m posting about how to survive retail life with a smile, in an A to Z theme. We’ll post every day during April, except Sunday’s – when we all get time off for good behavior.
I hope you enjoy these posts about customer service with a smile. Check out some of the awesome blogs that are participating in the A to Z Challenge this year. There’s over 1700 blogs participating in the challenge, so I’m sure you’ll find some treasures in there.
B: Be Gentle with Yourself – Tomorrow is Another Day
Today was one of “those” days. You know what “those” days are. I know you do, or else you wouldn’t be reading this. And it reminded me of an important nugget I had to share.
This journey of remaining optimistic in the face of retail or service annoyances is not a smooth, even road. Yes, this is a journey that we’re on, hopefully progressing at a somewhat steady pace. Some days or weeks we’ll make great strides, reaching reservoirs of patience and infinite calmness that we didn’t know we possessed. And other days, well … they exist, those days where we feel like we’re back at the beginning. Our goal is, or should be, to have continued growth, be it baby steps inching along, or be it huge leaps bounding along the path. At the end of each day, if we can look back and see progress, whether in large or small increments, that is what’s important.
For this issue of remaining positive in our working environment is not an all or nothing thing. It’s not one-day-we’re-Negative-Nellies and the next day …. Whoop … Instant-never-wavering-Positive-Polly’s.
There will be days, and even weeks, where we’ll sail along on an optimistic tide – always cheerful, patient, nary a grumble escaping from our lips. And then, in one moment, it all comes to a screeching halt, with steam rising from our collar, our ears bright red with aggravation, and temples pounding, warning of an impending headache.
Today was one of those. The day was almost over. Thirty more minutes and a genuine smile was still on my face. My order was completed well before lunch time, leaving me some extra time to help order in another department. General maintenance in the department done, labels on, new labels ordered, a few packages repaired. I’d even had time to pop in and watch my safety videos for the month. Check. Check. And Check.
I was still cheerfully assisting customers, helping them figure out fabric dimensions for a project and taking them to other areas of the store in search of what they needed. I had the duster out, finishing the last of my zoning (general straightening and cleaning of our departments) when I heard a voice behind me.
Yep. There he was. The district manager. I didn’t even know he was in the store. Thank goodness at least he caught me in the middle of doing my job and doing it properly. But, his impromptu visit rearranged the rest of my day.
I called for my zone check, which we can’t leave without the closing manager walking our department to ensure we’d done a proper zoning.
Fifteen minutes later – nothing. No response. I went looking for the closing manager. Ah, she was in the middle of a discussion with the DM.
That’s okay. It shouldn’t take long. It’s still not quite time to clock out. I’ll be patient and catch her in a few.
And then, in my pacing, I pass by the office and see all three managers sitting in the office, with yellow legal pads on laps, and the DM sitting behind the desk.
Now my dilemma. It’s now past time to clock out. I can’t clock out without a manger checking my zoning. Yet, I can’t stay late waiting for them. It’s already marked on my sheet that I’m 0.20 OVER my allowed time (yes, that’s a whole 12 minutes over. We can’t have that!)
I can’t go. I can’t stay.
There’s a third option. Interrupt the grand powwow in the office and ask. Woo-boy … I’m not EVEN going to go that route! No siree! I’ve never been on the receiving end of the wrath of the DM. But I’ve seen others there and I know that that’s one place I don’t want to be.
By 4:08 pm the convention was over and I got my reprieve. Now I’m 20 minutes over, instead of my 12 minutes. And by now the shoulders are tense, the jaw is clenched and the cyclone of aggravating and irritating thoughts is rampaging through my brain, stirring up every negative thought about this job that I thought I’d laid to rest long ago.
No matter the progress, no matter how consistently you’ve improved in wearing the mantle of cheerful optimism around your shoulders, just know that in a moment, you can be right back to where you started on this journey.
My purpose of sharing this story with you isn’t to garner your sympathy. It’s merely to show that we all, every one of us, has moments where we revert to a negative, complaining employee. And that’s all right.
What you need to take from this is
Don’t beat yourself up.
Be gentle with yourself.
Tomorrow is another day and another chance.
When setbacks appear, don’t spend your time and your energy whipping yourself over it. Admit it happened. Acknowledge that you’re human, just like the rest of us. Know it happens to us all. And go on.
Go home. Treat yourself to a comfort snack. Call a friend. Take a long hot bath. Get a good night’s sleep. And go on. It won’t be the last time. But as you gain more practice at remaining positive, these instances will happen less frequently, at longer and longer intervals.