It’s been a while since I lived a late-night lifestyle. Generally I’m to be found in bed with a book by 11pm and wake up, if not wholly refreshed, then at least alert enough for the rigours of an eight hour shift. In any case if any feelings of tiredness are lingering somewhere in my joints they’re sure to be banished by the great-pyramid-of Egypt-like heaped spoonful of instant coffee accompanied by one sugar it has become my custom to add to a large-ish mug of hot water and splash of milk upon my arrival to the office.
So I was surprised when my third customer of the day piped up with:
“you sound tired if you don’t mind me saying”
Tired? Certainly not! At least I don’t feel tired and well I certainly do mind you saying. My response to this unwanted slight on my professionalism is curt.
“Well thank you for that observation now if we can get on with the business at hand”
I know it’s wrong and that the right response would be to use the customers comment as a wake-up call and adopt a more cheery switched on tone when answering – first impressions and all that, but one thing I really find hard to abide is people feeling they have the right to be judgemental based on ten seconds or less of conversation. I certainly would never feel I have the right to make and vocalise judgements about other people and in fact wouldn’t want to unless I was really, really pushed. In this case there was no warning, no prior conflict; I had simply been asking the customer the basic questions required to process their order. Commenting on their perception of my manner simply served to sour the entire encounter making for a rather uncomfortable three and a half minutes.
Later in the day I took a call from a customer with what I’d describe as a ‘haughty’ tone of voice. As soon as I introduced myself and asked how I could help the voice rudely clipped “I want you to take an order” instantly I tensed up a feeling of ‘oh no I’ve got one of these’ washing over me, but my first impression couldn’t have been more wrong. The caller was in actual fact very friendly and a pleasure to deal with. As soon as I realised this I rebuked myself for being far too quick to judge – just what I had felt so offended by earlier. This is why people like the caller I had earlier are so wrong to judge I reassured myself. The balance of my day had been successfully restored
but then, just at the end of the call the customer chimed:
“You sound as if you’re about to fall asleep”
Better make that two spoonful’s tomorrow.