Merry Christmas Eve everyone!
In a couple of days the after-Christmas tradition of returning items and shopping for those gifts you really wanted will commence. As you're dealing with return policies, inventory, and the crowd at the mall... I ask you to please keep this in mind. Not only now when shopping.. But in all aspects of life. The people you may deem to have unimportant job titles (sales associates, assistants, flight attendants, etc.) actually have much more power than you give them credit for.
Now I'm not saying everyone demeans or speaks down to these employees because they're "just a [insert job title here]" but there are definitely those that do. And its definitely more common than most would think.
I have held a few long term clerical jobs in my pre-mommy days and for a couple of them "assistant" was located somewhere in my job title. Now I don't know what it is about that word but some people automatically see it as a way to say " you mean nothing" when in fact, if you have a great boss and you do your job well... You actually mean a whole lot.
The "assistants" (sales associates, flight attendants etc) are usually the ones who keep things running smoothly. They are leaned on and a vital part of the system. They are your first point of contact and can often be the difference between you getting what you want and getting a resounding NOPE!
Maybe those that yell, scream, and boarder line verbally abuse these employees fail to realize there is always a bond between coworkers. They see each other often, usually daily, and you... You are just someone no one knows coming into their work place causing a disturbance. You see the blanket of "the customer is always right" simply doesn't exist in customer service anymore. It can't when so often times these days the customer is oh-so-blatantly wrong.
I had a boss who was amazing to work with. Yes, the job was demanding at times (most of the time) but he made sure to form a bond of trust with his coworkers. His perspective was that since I was his assistant, I was an extension of him. Often times I was his eyes and ears and, to him, anyone being disrespectful to me was also disrespecting him.
I can't tell you how many times people underestimated my worth at the company because of that simple "a" word in my title. People would actually be taken aback when my boss would back my stance or explain to someone that it is unacceptable to speak to me in that manner.
You see, if someone was cooperative, friendly, and nice about an inquiry or request I would go way waaaay out of my way to help them out...maybe even talk to my boss about bending a rule or compromising for them by highlighting how professional and kind the approach was and how simple a compromise would be.
If someone was rude during an isolated incident but was usually cooperative I would chalk it up to a bad day and still give them the benefit of the doubt, even explain to my boss that they were usually very easy to work with.
If someone flew off the handle ... I would try to help them the best I could...but when my boss eventually asked how the interaction went (and he always did) I would state straight facts about the disrespectful behavior and leave it at that. And you know what that means. No rule bending. No compromising.
I should point out I also did A LOT more in these situations to help the customer/vendor/client than most in my position did. Most would do the bare minimum to help that type of customer/client. I really would try...but I wasn't going to suggest a compromise or an exception to the rule to my boss. Not for someone who obviously didn't know how to at least keep it together in a professional setting. And, yes, any interaction you have that has to do with an exchange of money or an interaction with a business/organization is a professional situation and you should conduct yourself in a respectable manner.
(I should also point out that tantrum throwing is a great way to show that you are someone who will probably abuse any compromise or rule bending you receive. )
Simply being nice and friendly in order to get what you want is relevant in so many situations its ridiculous. Another example? I have a friend who can ALWAYS get tickets to exclusive business and networking events. Does she have a PR contact? A big shot hook up? Nope. If you ask her what her secret is she will simply state "I'm always super nice to whomever answers the phone. Then they usually direct me to the correct assistant. And then... I'm nice to them as well" and just like that she and a plus one are put on the list.
Even if you feel a staff member is not doing their job correctly... being nice about it will get you much further in a much less stressful manner than causing a scene will.
So when you're frustrated from all of the holiday aftermath and chaos... Remember this. If you're not going to be cordial to staff members just for the sake of being a decent human being...at least be nice as means to having a better shot at getting your way. You won't be unnecessarily adding to the stress of the season and everyone will walk away having a better day.