I Got Flipped Off – And I Deserved It
I got flipped off today and I totally deserved it. Here’s why. It all started when my son woke up sick this morning and I had to take a partial sick day to be home with him until my wife got home from work.
When she arrived, I took an alternate route to the office to try to get there a little bit faster. The only problem was that I got stuck behind some old dude that sped a modest five miles per hour UNDER the speed limit. Needless to say, my plan to expedite was not going well. As it happened, we both pulled up to a stoplight to turn right. When the light turned green he just sat there, and sat there, and sat there. Finally I honked, once. Nothing. Twice. Nothing. Thrice.
It was after the third honk that the cyclist, who had been making her way across the crosswalk, flipped me off. I didn’t see her but the car in front of me did. I told you I deserved to get flipped off. The driver showed much more grace in that situation after being road raged. In shame, I made my way to work.
Choosing The Wrong Attitude
That got me thinking about the many different phone calls with customers where I’ve pushed the idiot button within the few seconds of the call, flooding my mind with messages like “this guy doesn’t know anything about computers,” or “this lady is so stinking slow and she’s wasting my time,” or “great, this person barely speaks English.”
You can guess how these calls went. My behavior was completely inappropriate and more than once it took a customer yelling at me or asking for my manager to get me to shape up. Essentially, the customer had to flip me off to tell me just how out of line I was.
Assuming The Best
As I reflect on my road rage and my past customer service phone rages, I immediately compare and contrast those scenarios with times where I’ve been content to tailor my approach to the customer on the other end of the line. In these cases, had I assumed that the customer, or driver had the very best of intentions, my attitude would have been 180 degrees different. I would have been patient and attentive–placing their needs above my own. I might even be more equipped to roll with a few punches they might throw at me.
By assuming the best in others and seeking to understand them, we keep our focus on connecting meaningfully with them and solving their problems. In the end, that sounds a whole lot better than getting flipped off.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.