Sometimes, we let other people dictate our happiness. We might swear otherwise, promise ourselves that we are in complete control of ourselves at all times, but inevitably someone else will affect us. I had an experience just yesterday that startled me: while shopping at the salon supplier I buy from, I couldn’t find a product I needed and asked an employee whether they had it. Now, I get it–I’ve worked retail for most of my life, and I’ve had all sorts of customers ask me all sorts of questions. But if I couldn’t help them with something, I have always been apologetic and made helpful suggestions, hoping that I could still help them in some fashion. I’ve taken every job I’ve worked as a serious responsibility, and I hope all of my clients have seen that. It was clear that this girl simply occupied space at her job: without even turning to look at me, she gave me a curt “no” and attempted to look busy so I wouldn’t bother her again. When I explained my confusion–I had seen the product in their flier, I had found the brand on display, I just hadn’t seen that product–she picked up a basket of returns and began restocking, completely ignoring me. But within a few moments, she must have thought better of ignoring a customer and turned, angrily telling me they did not have the product, they never had the product, and told me to find a solution on my own. I was shocked. I put back every item I had collected for myself and left.
I’m not the type of person who lets grouchy employees affect my shopping experience. I’m typically a very independent shopper, very “search-and-destroy,” collecting what I need on my own and checking out quickly. It’s rare that I interact with any employee aside from a cashier, so if the person checking me out is a little disgruntled, I shake it off and don’t let it bother me. But this interaction put me completely off. In fact, it put me so far off that I felt the effects all day: I had a massive headache, I got into an argument with O, I felt despondent and uncomfortable at home. I’m certainly not blaming this girl for all of my issues yesterday, but I allowed my experience with her to put me into such a weird mood that everything felt out of whack. It’s my fault for allowing her and her poor customer service to affect my own attitude, but I have since vowed to source whatever possible from other stores simply to avoid running into her again, even if it costs me twice the amount of money.
When people bring a negative attitude to their place of business, it creates a toxic environment for everyone involved. When employees are short-tempered and irritated, customers end up angry and frustrated which not only hurts the business, but the health of everyone involved. It’s not good for the mind, body, or spirit to be angry like that. Allowing a bad day to affect your interactions with others passes that negativity from one person to the next: what started as your frustration with morning traffic or an argument with a loved one becomes someone else’s headache. It’s just not fair. We all have bad days, but we can all find more constructive outlets for our bad vibes. Rather than taking it out on the next human being to reach out to you, try talking calmly and rationally to a friend or coworker, explaining what happened to let it out in a soothing, healing way. Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and let the heat melt away your anger. Excuse yourself for a ten and take a walk around the surrounding area and let each step take you further away from the bad feelings. I don’t advocate eating your feelings, but sometimes there’s nothing better than an old-fashioned sugar rush to bring you from zero to sixty with one bite!
If you’ve been on the receiving end of someone else’s bad mood, don’t get infected–remember that anger and resentment stems from pain, and forgive them for lashing out at you as soon as possible. Take the necessary steps to heal yourself before it affects you: take some deep breaths, letting the venom out with each exhalation. If you need to, verbally command the negativity away–sometimes audibly forgiving someone is far more effective. When you leave the store, take a minute to sit in your car or on a bench outside and say, “I completely and totally forgive this person for trying to hurt me. I am untouched by their negativity.” Feel the heaviness of their anger lifted from your chest, and allow it to be replaced by love and happiness. Think about all the good things in your life, however big or small, and take a moment to thank the universe for allowing you to experience the love you feel at that moment. Pass it on–call a friend and tell them you hope they’re having a good day. Go somewhere that makes you happy and enjoy a moment, whether it’s shopping, getting coffee, or bird-watching in the heart of nature. You don’t even need to wait until you have a bad experience with someone: any of these things can be done at any moment on any day to pick yourself up!
Sometimes, all of this is easier said than done. I can think of several jobs I’ve had where I simply couldn’t slog through the negativity well enough to conduct myself around clients. Whether it was trouble at work or trouble at home, I couldn’t shake enough of it to perform my duties properly. It took a lot of work–both within and without–to fix what was broken, and I ended up having to quit and find a place where I felt better. Not everyone has the option of leaving their job in search of bluer skies, and I understand that. But it’s not fair to yourself or to those around you to allow your problems to affect every aspect of your life. It can’t hurt to try some new anger management skills in the meantime, both as an employee and a customer.