Be Gentle with Yourself – Tomorrow is Another Day

Be Gentle with Yourself – Tomorrow is Another Day

(Today’s post is an excerpt from EVERY DAY’S A GOOD DAY: Remaining Positive in a Retail or Service Based Profession.)

EDGD_be gentle with yourselfToday 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.

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Humor at Work

humor at work'Sometimes humor is the only technique that gets us through difficult periods at work, especially if you’re working in a retail or other service based job.

The story below shows great use of humor in a work situation. Although it’s most probably a joke or an urban legend and not a true recounting of an actual incident, it still illustrates a humorous reply in a difficult situation. (Snopes.com has a similar story, United Airlines but coming out of Denver, that they collected via email in 1998.)

An award should go to the United Airlines gate agent in New York for being smart and funny, while making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo.

For all of you out there who have had to deal with an irate customer, this one is for you.

A crowded United Airlines flight was cancelled.

A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.

Suddenly, an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS.”

The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first; and then I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

The passenger was unimpressed.

He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”

Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone.

 “May I have your attention, please?” she began, her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal.

“We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him with his identity, please come to Gate 14.”

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United Airlines agent, gritted his teeth, and said, “F*** you!”

Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to get in line for that, too.”

Hang in there! When the demands at your job have you ready to strangle someone, see if it’s possible to use humor to defuse the situation. Or, at the very least, can you find any humor in it after the fact so that you can laugh about it instead of seethe?

Can a Day in Retail be a ‘Good Day’?

EDGD_ phrase on snowy gateEvery day’s a good day?

Ha! Not if you work in retail.

That may be what many people think – especially those working in a retail job.

Yet, it is possible to work in retail, or in any other service based industry, and keep a smile on your face. At least most days.

Our optimism – or lack of – and our general outlook on life is up to us. Our attitude is shaped by our thoughts and is what we let it be. Unfortunately, many of us, and I’m just as guilty as anyone else, let outside factors determine how happy or unhappy we are. We let life and the unpleasant situations we encounter sour our spirits.

The car doesn’t start. Our tire goes flat. A child wakes up sick. The cat’s left an icky surprise for us on the carpet. The milk is sour. The coffee pot’s empty. Traffic is backed up. We spill our coffee. All the lights turn red on us. And we haven’t even gotten to work yet.

Then, we punch in at our retail job and the real fun starts.

EDGD_then idiots happenCustomers are rude. Demanding. Cranky (to put it politely). And yes, I’ll bet we all have our own horror stories we can top each other with.

If only our problems were just the customers.

We also have the bosses. The immediate managers, who often expect us to perform miracles on very little time. Managers who assign us tasks we don’t like. Managers who expect us to “jump”, yet when we need them the same promptness is not reciprocated. Or, upper echelon managers show up at the store, making everyone’s lives more miserable.

If it’s not the customers or the bosses … we have co-workers. Most we adore. But, there are the others.

How do we even make it through the day with a smile on our face?

It is possible. Maybe not every single day. There will be set backs. There will be days that still make us pull our hair out. With a little conscious effort, it is possible to make it through the day, the week … the Christmas season … still cheerful and feeling that life indeed is good.

There are a variety of ways that help. We’ll look at some of them in future posts. Not every method will be for every person. Sometimes something that works one day won’t work on another. Having an arsenal of assorted tools at our disposal is the best way to survive with a smile.

Some of the techniques we’ll look at closer at, along with others, are soothing music, affirmations, count to ten, essential oils, connect with nature, take a walk, meditation, worry stones, treats … even sitting in the car and yelling. (Yes, it does work. Yes, I’ve done it.)

So what do I know about working with people and the problems encountered? I worked in a doctor’s office for 14 years; patients that are sick and in pain are not always the most pleasant. Next I worked for the city for 10 years, 4 years was with the sidewalk replacement program; residents that don’t get their way are not the most pleasant. (Believe me. One resident was so volatile I had to get a police escort to go talk to him.) And then, I experienced 10 years in retail – 3 years with my own business, 1 year in a hardware store and 6 years in a craft and home décor store. A little bit of everything, except fast food. For that, I’ll have to get someone else’s perspective.

On the next post I’ll start with one technique that helped get me through this last Christmas season. Affirmations.

And, by the way, I can’t take credit for the title of these posts. ‘Every day’s a good day’ is taken directly from one of those managers mentioned earlier (although he’s one of my favorites and not the one that gives me nightmares). We’d be greeted with his pet phrase each day we entered. And yes, there were many days we grumbled on our way past and wanted to smack him upside the head with one of his ‘every day’s a good day’. Until I decided to give myself an attitude adjustment to try to survive the six month long holiday season. I asked him if I could ‘steal’ his phrase. He gave me his blessing. So Angel A, these posts are for you.

If you have anything you’d like to add or contribute to any of these posts, feel free. You can email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

August 2019
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