Today we are going to be talking about how to turn retail hell into, well, peace on earth! Okay, at least we’ll get a piece of really great advice that will make us all feel a lot better! We are all under added stress today, just trying to make ends meet, so many things up in the air—our health care, our kids, our job security is in question for many of us, and we are simply trying to make sure we have a roof over our heads and food on the table. That said, I have noticed a few places we where we like to vie for power or get some control in a world that currently feels more out of control than ever. One is on the road; we might feel pretty cocky sitting behind two-thousand pounds of steel yelling at someone for simply getting one car ahead of us/taking the spot that we are sure was ours/just because we are self-centered and get no respect so damn it we are going to get it in the parking lot!
Then there’s the stores. The places where customer service representatives become the sounding board for all our stuffed feelings and resentments and we are all too happy to sneer, judge, dismiss, and downright treat them badly because—well, we feel bad about ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished everyone had to take a public etiquette course! A class that we must pass that teaches us how to be, at minimum, civil with others regardless of how we feel. And I am talking about people on both sides of the counter. Author John Tarrant talks about how we can never lay our negative vibe on anyone; it’s just not right. And that we should keep our energy in check—it’s toxic to lay it on someone else! I couldn’t agree more. Ultimately we will all be happier and more at peace if we do.
It’s true, there are times when I have wished and even intimated that sales associates could be more attentive and behave as though they took pride in their choice as a customer service representative. I have fantasized about calling their boss and telling them how texting a friend/fixing their makeup/being rude seemed the order of the day rather than helping a paying customer. Just as I have been the one trying to bring cheer to a messy department store scene, or cleaning up after some miserable person dumped their negativity all over the salesperson just before I arrived (or sometimes right in front of my face). Bottom line, more often than not I try to hold my tongue and collect my negativity so as not to leak it on others or spread the love. All else seems irresponsible!
Here are some tips from my friend Freeman Hall who wrote a book called Retail Hell: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate. They can help you change your attitude on or off the road so we can be contributors of peace and love rather than harbingers of darkness.
1) Greet people you see either with your eyes, a smile or when a Sale Associate greets you, greet them back. Feeling welcome is a huge part of being connected to other people. A smile and hello go a long way and get you better service. A glare and silence makes the Retail Slave take note that you might just be a huge problem. They will run the other way. Take advantage of their greeting to ask a question or get help. If you don't need either, a friendly greeting will let them know you are not Scrooge and they'll be eager to assist you when the time is right.