Before we can react in a way that gives us the best chance of getting what we want from any interaction, we need to know what’s really going on. For instance, you manage to make your way through a telephone tree that seems as if it was put together by a six year old. You only had ten minutes and now you have six or seven left. You finally get a live person and what you want to know is whether or not your insurance is due or your payment was received. The person asks you for your last name, date of birth, last four numbers of your social, zip code, city, dog’s name, mother’s name, brother’s address, well maybe not all that but that’s what it feels like and you say it all. They say you SHOULD have been sent that information and they can’t give you that information anyway because you’ve called the wrong department. They sound angry, they are curt, they don’t offer to transfer your call. They tell you in a very abrupt way that you have to call this other department, click. Then you are staring at a phone that doesn’t have a person on the other end any more. Sigh.
You can let your blood pressure ratchet up twenty notches, get so angry that you are determined to write letters, call their supervisor, get them fired, and the list goes on. Or you can recognize that they are working for the company that just had you on a merry-go-round telephone tree so the rest of the organization that they have to work for probably operates the same way, insanely! You can imagine what it must feel like to have to answer phones for minimum wage, maybe without any benefits, and to have to try to pay your bills, eat, do whatever other chores await you in your brief weekend off just so you can turn around and go back again because there aren’t any other jobs for you. Maybe that rude person is trying to raise a family on those wages. Maybe they know the CEO of the company just got a ten million dollar bonus. Maybe they are just tired or maybe they are sick and tired and have no choice but to answer those phones and you just happen to be one of the folks who had her own agenda that morning, who wanted some information and didn’t have all day to try to get it.
If that phone person had been happy with his or her own life, that happiness would have spread to you. Since they aren’t happy in their life, their unhappiness tainted your experience and that really is a shame but it isn’t worth getting upset over. It isn’t worth anything. You still have to call that other number so let it go and move on. You’ll feel better and maybe having a little compassion will make you feel a lot better. Funny how compassion does that, makes us feel better. Isn’t it supposed to make the other guy feel better. Oh no, I forgot, it’s never about the other guy. Have a great day and remember to take a couple of deep breaths whenever you want to reach through the phone and smack someone.