Respect will make you a better problem solver

Customer service in Austin is usually good, so it’s noticeable when someone strays. I was in line at a popular retail store over the weekend. The person in front of me was a little confused by the credit card reader, asking, “What do I do here? Give you the card, swipe, stick it in the machine, what?”

The cashier took the card just a bit too snappily and quipped, “It’s 2017. This is a chip reader.” You or I could say that nicely, help the person out, and enjoy their patronage for many years. This cashier had a different idea, preferring a condescending tone, and a lost customer. I know that because the person turned to me following the sale and said with a laugh, “I hope you get it right. I was just trying to give them my money, but they don’t seem to want any more of it!”

No one appreciates disrespect. I have no way of knowing if someone disrespected the cashier, if the response was born of other frustration, or if the cashier believes that a disrespectful attitude is somehow fashionable—it is, after all, 2017. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the boss’s fault. Respect tends to trickle top-down.

At the front line of every business is someone who represents you to your customer. Treat them with respect and clarify your expectations regularly. Perhaps, “Everyone gets respect all the time” will work. It’s not a difficult formula to remember.

Your brain, and theirs, only has so much energy to use up during the day. If one uses any energy at all fighting against the emotions associated with being disrespected, there’s less brain power available to fight real problems—the ones they were hired to solve.

On the other side of that reality, the disrespected customer could let it go. And by the guy’s laugh, I’m guessing he did. Look, we both know that if you’re around people long enough, someone will say something offensive. That does not mean we should seek it out or let it bug us for more than a minute unless it’s egregious. If one spends energy looking for an offense, they’ll not only find their desire fulfilled, but they’ll have less brain power available to solve real problems.

Respect others, and let small offenses slide. People who come to you with a legitimate problem will be so happy because you will have what it takes to help them.

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