I was running errands the other day and noticed many people in a grumpy mood. I don’t know their reasons for being sullen, but their actions seem inappropriate for their situations.
I witnessed a person being rude to a checkout attendant even though the employee was hard working and courteous. Later, a driver beside me on the road was honking at someone in front of them for apparently driving the speed limit. I even saw an older child scolding their parent while shopping for clothes. In each case, the innocent person responded in the same manner. They smiled and politely dealt with the aggressor.
We meet all sorts of people in our lives. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are a real pain in the…aren’t so nice. How we deal with this latter group can make a difference in our lives and theirs.
Many years ago, I worked as a receptionist at a vet clinic. The majority of the time, it was easy to do my job and take care of clients and patients. Happy people brought their happy puppies and happy kittens in for a checkup. The really friendly ones would get a tasty treat—the animals, not the owners.
Of course, not every day was perfect. Sometimes people would get frustrated waiting for their appointment. Others would complain about the cost of the services. Some were just having a bad day. Yes, there were days that the patients wagged their tails and licked my face but the owners barked and growled.
At times like these, I always took the calm and pleasant approach. I smiled, made eye contact with the customer, and politely worked with them. I treated the customer in this manner even if there wasn’t a problem; it’s good customer service. I also used this same technique with nervous pets to calm them down.
It all comes down to treating people with respect and having empathy, even if they aren’t pleasant. It can be difficult to stand there and be polite while someone lashes out at you, but if we fly off the handle and shout back at them, it will only make the situation worse.
If we have a calm attitude and use a pleasant voice, we can diffuse the situation. As the saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey.” This method works with customers, co-workers, friends, and even cantankerous children.
It may be easy to shout at the top of our lungs when a child is unruly. I admit that I have done this very thing with my kids. I have also found that speaking softly into their ear causes them to quiet down so they can hear you. Now that I have their attention, I can remedy the situation.
I can’t guarantee that a soothing voice will calm a savage beast, but a pleasant attitude and soft approach can make a situation more manageable and indeed less noisy.