D: Distancing

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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.



In most real life situations, and especially relationships, distancing is discouraged. Often, people use this create space when feeling overwhelmed or smothered. The downside is that it minimizes authentic interaction and can cause more damage in the long run.

However, in certain stressful situations that occur in retail or with customer service related problems, using this technique for specific occasions can help us diffuse the situation and stay calm.

Much of the time during a difficult moment, one of the parties becomes angry and the problem escalates. When the emotions are raging at full boil, with no resolution in sight, the tenseness and emotional turmoil often permeates the circumstances and without restraint or control, both parties can soon be embroiled in a furious debate.

This is where distancing becomes a useful tool for the person that wants to retain a professional demeanor. If we can mentally take a step back and distance ourselves emotionally, it can help us remain calm and removed from the emotional drama threatening to envelop us.

Personally, I’ve used this method, both in the challenging position in my municipal employment, and also during my seven years of retail. At the moment that I create a distance between myself and the other party who is upset, I also like to place an invisible, protective wall around myself.

Different protective walls can be used. Many like to picture an invisible brick wall surrounding them. Or a clear, impenetrable barrier. My own favorite is to picture a healing, calming spirit of white light surrounding me that helps me remain steady and composed, while protecting my spirit from the barbs being thrown my way.

The psychological effects of detachment that benefit us in a difficult work related positon are:

  • Helps us gain, and improve, our emotional self-control
  • Helps us maintain a polite behavior
  • Helps us remain true to ourselves, and be less swayed by social influence
  • Helps us experience less emotional reactivity

Just remember to leave this tool at work. It’s not one that you want to bring home with you, nor do you want to use this for extending periods of time. Long term this can produce undesirable symptoms in our relationships with others.

But for a now and then use, to diffuse angry interactions with customers and clients…priceless.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth Hein
    Apr 05, 2016 @ 11:00:51

    Keeping a safe emotional distance from customers is so important when working with the public. We can never know what is going on in a stranger’s life and can’t let their chaos become our chaos.
    Great post topic.


  2. Miriam
    Apr 05, 2016 @ 13:08:25

    Lots of good advice in these posts. Thank you.


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