There is a story about a man named Harris who goes to a newsstand with his friend to buy a newspaper and the vendor is very rude to him. His friend seems to ignore the vendor’s behaviour and is polite back to him and wishes him a good evening. As they walk away Harris says to his friend, “Man, he’s sour”. His friend replies, “He’s always like that”. Harris says, “Why do you continue to be so kind to him?” And his friend replies, “Why not? Why should I let him decide how I am going to act?” Sidney D J. Harris
The bible doesn’t tell us to treat others the way they treat us. It tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Instead we tend to be emotionally driven. Someone offends us and we respond “their not going to treat me like that!”
I had a couple of phone calls last week from two irate customers. They both rung up agitated, firing first and asking questions later. It’s always interesting in those kinds of interactions. My human frailties kick in, my hackles go up and my posture tenses in defence mode. Thankfully I had a revelation during one of these conversations that moved me into a better space.
When I sit down at the table for dinner with my family at night, I love to share stories from my day about things that went well, especially things that turned out better than unexpected. So as I was having these conversations with these two callers this week, I felt that my goal was to resolve the issue for them so that they would have a story of resolution to share at their dinner tables. I felt led to step away from a decision driven by “company policy” to instead one that was relational. The outcome was positive in both situations. The blessing for me was when I laid my head on my pillow; I didn’t have any regrets about how I handled it (things I wished I had or hadn’t said in response to their initial aggressive manner) nor any anxiety about what was going to happen next. Both issues were resolved.
In this age of social media, the experience we give our customers or indeed any person, has greater ramifications than ever before. Prior to social media, if I upset you and didn’t resolve it, you might have shared that story around the dinner table and maybe told a few friends. Today, you can take your upset global, with just a few taps of your keyboard, a single click.
Of course the motivation to treat each other well shouldn’t be just because we fear a bad online review.
Jesus’ well known verse summaries it in one perfect sentence. “Do to others as you would have them to do to you.” ( Luke 6:31).