Non-Career Advice is a series that asks people - young, old, and in a range of occupations - for words of wisdom unrelated to work, career-building, dollars, or getting ahead.
Jamie Furlong / Florist + Server at Blue Hill
Also: Tea drinker / tree clipper / ice cream sundae connoisseur
Respond to people, not their behavior. I learned a trick a while ago that I use all the time when I’m working at the restaurant. I read it in a book: if you’re dealing with someone who’s being especially difficult, try to remember that underneath it all, that person is just wearing a disguise. That unpleasant customer is just a person — a fragile person — disguised as self-important, or unfriendly, or fussy. Once you remove the way he or she is acting from the fact that they’re human, it makes it so much easier to respond with patience.
Just recently, I was at the drugstore, and the person ahead of me in line was name-calling the cashier because she wasn’t able to give him the discount he thought he deserved. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I said, “Excuse me, sir, is this the way you always act, or are you just having a bad day?” And he said, “I’m just having a bad day, you’re right.” It may not have been the best way to handle things, but it diffused the situation. It was a good reminder that sometimes, people are just having a hard time. And that at the end of the day, everyone deserves kindness.
Beautiful. Thank you so much, Jamie. More from the Non-Career Advice series, here.