Anyone who works in the retail or service industry knows how quickly the idea of loving infinitely and unconditionally can go right out the window.
All it takes is one crotchety old lady telling you you’re a moron for you to decide right then and there that this “We are the world” stuff is for hippies and hermits. You don’t even have to be the one dealing with the masses on a minute-to-minute basis to find yourself the recipient of negative energy — as anyone who’s ever dealt with a cashier, barista or waitress in their life has almost certainly discovered.
But it can be argued that those people who test our good will are the ones that really matter. Sure, it’s easy to send love vibes and rainbows and butterflies to people we love, to animals, to polite strangers. But it takes the Dalai Lama to smile sweetly — and mean it — to the man who just asked for your male manager because he “needs someone who knows what he’s doing, sweetheart.”
Or does it?
There are a million factors that are beyond your control, but the one that that isn’t is how you react to a situation. And that can make all the difference.
I’m no expert at this, and every day is an exercise in keeping my cool as I’m constantly doled out heaping servings of negative or belittling energy — or sometimes both! But as a member of the retail industry, I’ve found that keeping a few things in mind and tweaking some of my routine has helped me to shift my experiences.
I’m hoping sharing them can help not only keep some people out of anger management but also spread a little more love each and every day. And I think there’s something to be said for treating strangers with kindness, no matter which side of the equation you’re on.
–Remember that the more aggression you put out there, the more
aggression gets passed on. Everything in human interactions has a
domino effect. Turn that anger into love and not only will the world
be a little brighter, you’ll feel a whole lot better.
–Meditate. I never believed it until I tried it, but meditation can
have a long-lasting, amazingly calming effect on your disposition. Try
just five minutes a day focusing on whatever it is that brings you
–Be comfortable. A co-worker of mine who wasn’t feeling well was
recently dealing with a difficult customer, and she said to me, “I
don’t want to go out there and snap at him just because I feel
terrible.” And she probably would have, because I’ve found that the
more uncomfortable you are, the more likely you are to have a short
temper. Dress in what makes you feel good. Eat vibrant, healthy food.
Trust me, it matters.
–Smile more. When you smile at someone, their natural reaction is
usually to smile back. If nothing else, that’s a start.
–Don’t beat yourself up if you lose self-control. Use it to create
more self-awareness about what triggers your anger or makes you lose
balance. And keep in mind that the cranky exteriors of some people
just can’t be broken in a five-minute exchange.
–Remember that the human being you’re dealing with is just that: A
human being. You don’t know what they’ve got going on or what kind of
news they might have just gotten. And if they’re letting that affect
their behavior toward you, it’s because they haven’t fully learned how
to control their actions and reactions. But guess what? You have, and
you can keep the situation from taking a negative turn.
You don’t necessarily need the Dalai Lama to pass on the sunshine-y vibes — just some mala beads and a little perspective.