“Hello. Thank you for calling. Please hold while we retrieve your account information.”
“Please hold while we connect you with customer service.”
“Your call is important to us. Please hold and your call will be answered in the order received.”
(Loud, looping Muzak)
Then finally, if you’re lucky, a human being answers. Perhaps now you can justify the 16 minutes and 23 seconds that you’ve been waiting on hold.
But who’s counting?
Has this happened to you recently? Me, too.
I spent half of my Saturday afternoon on hold that day. It was a week of catch-up calls to various customers and service providers — both personal and professional — and I was gifted with a large chunk of my time being routed from one online music recording to customer service agent to the next, and the next…
For more than five hours.
Whereas in the past this may have presented me with a perfect opportunity to be frustrated and impatient, I had a different experience this time around — I got out the honey.
I decided it was as much my responsibility to be considerate as it was the person on the other end. So I deliberately put myself in a state of peaceful alignment before I made my first call.
As I spoke to each person that day, I focused on being calm, pleasant, patient, and cooperative with whomever I was speaking to — regardless of what was happening during the conversation.
And can you guess what happened? I got fantastic service. Yep. In fact, two different times the customer service representatives went out of their way to do something exceptional for me.
Why? Because: 1) I asked nicely; and 2) I was calm and patient with them during the entire call.
Remember the last time someone was polite to you? How did you respond?
I thought so. You were — most likely — polite back to them. It’s more difficult to respond angrily to someone who’s being kind to you. Not always, but mostly.
It’s no surprise that people are more flexible and understanding when we treat them with respect. Who wouldn’t be?
To soften our stance and swallow our pride is a choice, and in these times of business and burnout, a kind act or word is never wasted.
Want to practice being more positive and patient? Try these tips:
Lighten up. There will always be new things to worry about, unless we stop worrying so much. Try to lighten up your life, especially about things that haven’t even happened yet. And the past? Let it go. There will always be new lessons to learn, and that’s a good thing. Worrying about anything just depletes our energy supply.
Kindness is catchy. Remember Blockbuster Video? They used to have a wonderful slogan, “Be kind, rewind.” It spoke of the ability to think about the next customer renting your VHS movie, or the lucky employee who’d need to rewind the cassette before it could be viewed again. This example of kindness involves thinking ahead and thinking of others. Kindness is catchy. Pay it forward.
It starts with you. If you want to experience more kindness, then give yourself kindness. If we want to see the world through the eyes of peace and compassion, we need to first cultivate those attributes within ourselves. Being kind and compassionate with ourselves ripples out and makes it easier to act that way with others. The Golden Rule still applies.
Soften before you speak. When we naturally react to something frustrating — like waiting on hold for an extended amount of time — we also have the opportunity to respond intelligently and compassionately without letting our anger or frustration overrule our ability to choose a gentle response. Remember: Our power to choose also includes our attitude.
Hey, look over here! If you’re having a tough time and you’re ready to stop the momentum of stinkin’ thinkin’, choose a healthy distraction to move you back into positive momentum. Sometimes it only takes a slight shift in awareness to make a big difference.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a career coach, best-selling author, and founder of The White Box Club™ — live coaching and resources for people in career transition. Find his syndicated blogs on Thrive Global, Medium, and The Huffington Post. Learn more at connect.michaelcreative.com