We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day at work, your bed seems to be calling out to you but you’re still on the clock. Customers have been requiring your unwavering attention all day, and it’s becoming harder and harder to convey that happy, inviting tone as the tight feeling of irritation settles into your chest- every request sending you closer and closer to the edge.
That feeling is much easier to give in to than fight- in fact, that’s what many people do, generally with regret following closely behind. It’s truly unfortunate because many of us on the front lines don’t always realize in a moment of frustration just how much power we have to instantly shape a customer’s impression of an entire business.
You act as a reflection of your employer and place of employment. And patience is something that great employers seek out in potential candidates. You will see this in interview questions such as “How do you handle stress in the workplace?” The last thing that they or you would want is for a customer to come away from an interaction with you wondering why in the world it was that you were hired. Maybe even feeling compelled to address your employer about the interaction. How unattractive is a candidate who takes out their anger on coworkers or customers?
In times where your patience is being tested, feelings often trump logic. Instead of “This could be the moment I make a lasting impression on a customer” our thoughts will naturally gravitate towards “I’m exhausted, I don’t feel like doing this anymore.” Even if we don’t show the way we are feeling with our words, we definitely convey it with our faces and tone.
As said by Peter Frost, “Emotions tend to be contagious. Toxic ones leak out into the workplace affecting more than just one person afflicted. It can poison a team, workplace, or organization.” More than that, it can spread to customers as well. Contagious emotions don’t have to be a bad thing, however.
This idea is supported in an article by Psychology Today, “Researchers have found that when subjects “catch” positive emotions from others, they’re more likely to be viewed by others and view themselves as more cooperative and competent. They also perceive themselves as more collegial…Simply put, when you spend time with happy people, you tend to feel happier, have more energy, and feel less stressed.” Just think of all of the benefits of exemplifying positivity!
Controlling emotions under stress calls for a strong sense of discipline. Building this discipline requires work and practice, just as with learning anything. It begins with refusing to let your emotions control you and actively being conscious of the way you are feeling. Saying to yourself “I am in control of my emotions, my emotions are not in control of me” can have great benefits. Physically say it out loud if you have to.
Having a sense of empathy can also assist with this. Recognizing that customers are not being difficult simply to bother you or keeping in mind that perhaps they’re having a poor day too, even if they are not, giving them the benefit of the doubt in any situation will always improve your customer relations.
No matter what the situation, patience will always get you that much further ahead.