Here’s my axiom that I doubt you will find in any MBA or biz school curriculum: Everyone should be required to work at least 6 months in either retail or food service. I’ve worked in both industries and it’s some of the hardest work there is. (To this day I hate talking on the phone after working as a receptionist in a hair salon.)
First of all, you are just out there on the selling or restaurant floor and subject to any and all personality types and their accompanying moods. Secondly, there are always those folks who enjoy treating you like “the help,” in a condescending, dismissive manner. And lastly, you are often being paid at minimum wage or only slightly above.
And, yes, I realize that there are people in these jobs who don’t take the work seriously, do the job poorly, goof off or are rude. There are things you shouldn’t tolerate as a consumer – being ignored or treated badly. Sometimes that is management’s fault for hiring them and/or not addressing the bad behavior. But try a little patience and kindness and you might be surprised by the response. I just came from one of the dollar stores where I wanted to buy a gift card. When I asked the clerk if they had the kind that you could load on the dollar amount, she responded, “Ya know, I don’t remember.” Then she just looked at me. So I said, “Should we ask someone?” Things went smoothly after she asked her manager and she learned how to do it with my transaction.
Because I’ve waited tables (and was fired from that job!), I’m very appreciative of good service and outstanding service sometimes gets a 25% tip. But also go the extra mile and engage your server in conversation that doesn’t just center on buying another round.
It’s a basic concept, but respect is key here, too. This time of year, it’s especially important. Remember, you could be laid off and end up in the service industry. So stoke up on that good karma. Be nice.
This is a guest post by Nancy LaFever. You can read more from her at the Centre for Emotional Wellbeing blog.