Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dont' Worry, Be Happy!

Most of us are familiar with Bobby McFerrin's cute tune of the 80s espousing us to "be happy" and telling us "don't worry." But that is hard advice to follow. We all worry, it's common. Books line the bookshelves about decreasing worry and a quick Google survey reveals countless quotes on the topic, my personal favorite belonging to Thomas Jefferson, who said "How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened."

Again, easier said than done. Even with the songs, the books, and the quotes I still found myself worrying, until I came across some ancient Buddhist wisdom:

There is no need to worry. If there is a problem that can be fixed, fix it. If there is a problem that cannot be fixed, there is nothing you can do about it.

What a great quote - if there's something you can do about a problem, do it. If there isn't, there's no use worrying about it. And that's really how I try to live my life. My favorite saying is, "it is what it is." In other words, deal with it and move on.

This little trinket can be applied to customer service. How many times as customer service professionals have we had that call that really set us off? They were irritated and yes, even abusive, and not matter how many times we tell ourselves not to take it personally, we find that customer's words haunting us the rest of the day, even beyond.

But why bother? We don't know the customer. The customer doesn't know us. Maybe the customer was having a bad day - or maybe the customer was having a good day, made bad by some experience he or she had with our company. Think about it. We've all been upset at one time or another and I'm sure there are times we've expressed our anger in ways that aren't always appropriate. That's no excuse, but sometimes we forget that the person on the other end of the phone is an actual human being - just like us, and like all humans (and all creatures for that matter) that customer desires one thing - happiness. Sometimes we prescribe super human properties to our customers. They are as super human as we are.

Next time there is an irate customer on the phone, try to remember that the customer is a human - like us - and try to think about the problem, not the customer, as the enemy.

When there is a customer that can't be satisfied, and may even be abusive, take a few moments after the call to clear the emotional toxins from the system by taking what I call a "mini-meditation."

Take a deep breath, or several, and try to clear you mind of any thoughts. If any thoughts come into your mind, let them pass out without affecting you in any way. This doesn't have to take long - one minute or even less sometimes. That's it. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever had was to take ten deep breaths when upset. It's amazing how that can clear the mind.

And if it matters, that customer is probably feeling pretty bad about what they said. Think of that. That should make your day.

Tashi Delek!

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