Over the years we’ve all had to deal with mean customers that act like jerks, or nice customers that are just having a bad moment. These experiences don’t have to take a negative toll on you if you understand how to put yourself in the right mindset while dealing with them.
In my younger more formative years as a professional, my first reaction was to get defensive, although I’d always keep my mouth shut. I would make sure that I always remained professional, and then afterwards I’d complain to all of my co-workers about it. These experiences would rattle me for the rest of the day and would often distract me from my work. It’s interesting because I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, however the customer’s words would hurt me and negatively impact my work. It wasn’t until I learned these 5 simple words that I was able to avoid the pain that these experiences brought me, which were, “I feel sorry for you.”
Now, whenever someone is being particularly nasty to me I recall those 5 words in order to regain focus and center myself. In my mind I think about how I’m having a great day, and this person’s day must suck so badly that they need to take it out on somebody else. The turning point came once I really started to believe that their attitude was a reflection of their own situation and didn’t have anything to do with me. This realization made those moments so much easier to handle.
This topic reminds me of a sales candidate that I worked with years ago. One day he yelled at me because I didn’t have any jobs for him. I vividly remember getting off of the phone with him and feeling discouraged and furious about the way that he talked to me.  However, once I began to really think about the situation and put myself in his shoes, my perspective changed.
This individual had a wife, who was a stay at home mom and 3 kids. He was supporting all of them, while also paying for 2 cars and a home in a high end area.  Clearly, this circumstance can generate a lot of pressure, especially if you’re laid off with no serious job prospects.
Although I knew that I didn’t deserve to be spoken to in the manner, it truly helped to think, “This has nothing to do with me. The poor guy is so stressed out and doesn’t know how to manage it.  I feel sorry for him.”  This thought process helped me approach these conversations with a different mindset, and ultimately transformed how I viewed the experience.
Putting yourself in this mindset can have a significant impact on the way in which you communicate, and how it impacts your emotions. The mantra, “I feel sorry for you” has helped me through experiences related to everything from personal relationships to business deals. With this mindset comes an understanding and belief that most people are good, but we all have our bad moments.
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