How do you feel about those especially rude or demanding customers that creep in to your life in the business you have chosen to be in?
It’s easy to let them make you angry, or at the very least, frustrated.
When I was a waiter in my 20’s, I had this theory that those really demanding folks were CEO’s, celebrities, or others with the money and power to make demands whenever they felt like it. Now, in some cases that is true, but in most, as I have learned over these many years, it is not. After working with CEO’s, celebrities, and others with money and power, I now feel differently.
I have modified my “theory” over the years, and I now put those demanding, sometimes unhappy guests in to multiple categories. For one, it’s not the CEO that usually makes demands.
It’s the middle manager who is told what to do all day long. Told what to do by his boss, his family, his friends, and the media.
It’s the stay at home mom who finally gets out and wants to make a few rules of her own for a change.
It’s the couple that can only afford to go out once in a great while, and really want things to be special.
It’s the man unhappy about his life, his neighbors barking dog and his unfulfilling job, and projecting it to you.
Please know, I am not defending abhorrent behavior. Its never ok to be rude. I just think if you stop and empathize with these souls for a moment, and see your experience with them as a chance to connect with them on a level they need, you can possibly become that ONE exchange in their day that they remember differently from the others. And even if it does not seem to be working, do not stray from the effort, regardless of how they react. It is at that very moment that they subconsciously need what you are giving them.
Don’t get me wrong. There IS a point where you must respond respectfully with your feelings regarding their behavior, but if you keep it positive, you will never lose. Other customers will see your empathy, even if your intended recipient did not. And, in a best case scenario, the customer will recognize the connection you are attempting to make, and you will be a positive influence in their life.
In a worse case scenario, you deal with the unruly guest accordingly, and in a way in which you wish to be treated. They may not leave happy, but you will have done your part in defusing the situation in a way that set an example to anyone who witnessed the exchange.
It’s not your job to “cure” unhappy or especially demanding people. But, it is your job to serve or sell to them to the best of your ability. While you are not a licensed therapist, you can give a fellow human more than any shrink ever will. You can give them compassion and understanding. You can make them feel good about themselves. And you can actually contribute to your world with your understanding and grace. Why not?