Coping strategies for an angry world
The other day I was catching the bus. That is an ordinary statement from a normal person. A daily ritual. We all have to get from A to B. Daily, weekly, yearly. As part of that ritual we all endure late buses and trains, the unacceptable behavior of fellow passengers and the bad attitude of transportation workers.
As frequent users of these services we are mostly oblivious to the prevalent appalling customer service. We think it’s acceptable behavior, or if not acceptable, we believe there is nothing we can do about it. We take abuse on the chin and if we let it, it can ruin our day or at least a few hours of it, until the anger subsides. It’s all part of the angry new world. Workers take out their dissatisfaction with their lives on us. And being in desperate need of their services we are reluctant to tell them to go forth when we know we have somewhere to be at 9am.
I am writing this article spurred by the bad attitude of a bus driver who I encountered recently. Upon stepping on to the bus the driver began screaming at me. I hadn’t even uttered a word. To begin with I didn’t know what the problem was. After repeating “You have to swipe your card on the street!” for the third time it finally sunk in. I didn’t know the process, I hadn’t used this bus route before. I rushed off the bus to swipe my card and the driver closed the doors and drove off. I had to wait forty five minutes for the next bus.
This kind of attitude is not uncommon in our daily lives. I often wonder why a manager would employ someone for a customer facing job who has the attitude of an angry wasp. You come across these types of people everywhere, in retail stores, fast food restaurants, airplanes and at the DMV.
In prison they say don’t react to a person’s actions because you never know their personal circumstances. The example the prison counselor provided us with was an inmate who became aggressive after finishing his phone call. Another inmate took offense. Fortunately for everyone the offended inmate restrained himself, although the thought of beating the bad-tempered inmate to an untimely death no doubt flashed through his mind. It quickly became public knowledge that during that phone call the inmate had received news his family had died in a car accident. His wife and two children, dead.
That story demonstrates that we should try not to react to another person’s anger. You never know what his or her underlying issues are. A bad marriage for example, a child having problems at school or a death in the family.
That reasoning alone won’t prevent us from becoming irritated when we encounter ill tempered people but it will help. As I write this I am slowly losing my anger towards the bus driver.
In a perfect world we should all work in jobs which we are suited to. Working in customer service when you don’t like people is not a sensible career choice. It will only add to our stress and anxiety.
Managers recruiting customer service staff should be more discerning. One bad recruit can devalue the whole organization’s culture. Just look at the DMV.
How do we cope with this bad attitude and make it work for us? The bottom line is, we have to change our thinking. Letting someone else’s problems get the better of us is the approach of a fool. Do you think it is the behavior of a reasonable person to be upset for the entire day when someone is rude to us? Why let someone else’s attitude impact us? In some cases unpleasant people do their best to upset us. You are doing them a favor by getting upset.
Let the abuse flow through you. Feel sorry for the abuser. Quickly think of one positive thought and focus on that instead. The lovely dinner you had the night before, a great night out or the warm loving embrace of your partner waiting for you at the end of the day.
If a bus driver called you a ‘dick head’ and kicked you off the bus you would be pissed right? What would happen if two minutes later you checked your phone and discovered you had landed the job of your dreams or your lotto numbers had come up? You would immediately forget about the disagreeable bus driver. The power to move on and focus on the positive is in your hands. A weak mind is one which allows others to control it. Am I going to let that bus driver dictate my day? F*** no!
Banner Image: City bus. Image Credit – weston m