Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Take a Deep Breath

By Belinda

In the midst of all the media coverage of the recent Royal Wedding, a radio program focused on advice to the young couple.

A wise person said, "Take a deep breath before you speak--and then, don't speak!"

What excellent advice that was--and not just for Will and Kate. I wrote it down and have thought about it a lot. I've even tried to put it into practice since then--practice being the operative word, because it will take lots of practice for me to learn this skill.

Imagine if we all did that--what hurts might be prevented; what regrets might be avoided. All by simply holding our breath for the few seconds it takes for anger to subside; pride to be swallowed; cool heads to prevail.

I should have remembered this yesterday. I came up against a salesperson who said to me, "We can't that. It's the rule."

It was a rule that didn't make sense to me but it was also the fact that it was being applied with such determination that made me feel disrespected and devalued as a customer. I didn't want to leave with that feeling so I asked who her manager was.

"She's the one who was helping and told you it couldn't be done in the first place," she said.

"Well, who is her manager?" I asked.

She called over another busy looking woman who only confirmed that this was "right from corporate," and was in the interest of processing customers through the checkout line as quickly as possible and without keeping people in the line up waiting a few seconds longer.

I know that the expression on my face had hardened and that I was not making her day with my questioning of "the rule" and using up more precious seconds. But there was no arguing with it even though what it told me was that speed was valued more than the customer. Maybe they think that saving a few seconds is serving the customer!

As I drove away I thought about writing to "corporate" and telling them how their rule made me feel, but somewhere along the way I decided to mentally "drop it." I was beginning to obsess! So I let it go and had a happy evening.

And while I still consider the rule just silly, if I were to revisit the conversation I would hope I could take a deep breath sooner and in spite of the sales staff's  lack of regret at enforcing a silly rule, not shoot the messengers with my attitude.

Yes, "Take a deep breath before you speak--and then don't speak;" It may not, of course, apply in all situations, but it may be profitable in many, at least that's my take on it.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi Belinda, I wrote about 'seconds' this morning too - cool. I'd amend that advice to Take a deep breath before you speak--and then, don't speak, or if you have to, do so calmly. I've found that I simply have to use my voice to engage people in changing practices or processes. When I was younger I could only speak if my confidence was fueled by anger. As a result I became either rude or vulgar. Now I've learned to fuel my confidence with a sense of purpose - and I never speak out of anger and never resort to 'potty mouth'. I think its good that you brought a silly rule into focus. I think their manner to you was rude and dismissive. So heres to calm heads and reasonable discussion. Here's also to times when the point to be proven isn't worth the hurt it would inflict. In other words, take a breath and shut up!

Belinda said...

Dave, I wondered what you, one who lives his life speaking out about wrongs and foolishness, would say about this post. You're right--knowing "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em" is a key. My main regret was allowing my anger to rise and my vibes to go out to people that had no control over the issue, although they did have control over how they presented it to me. If I had focused on that it would have felt better! :)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Belinda, believe it or not as I was writing my comment I thought, 'I'll bet that Belinda is wondering how I'll respond to this.' OK, this is now officially scary!!

Belinda said...

Dave, I think it means you know me pretty well! And it's about as scary as me suggesting that you hide a whoopie cushion in your wheelchair when you enter an elevator backwards! :)

(Anyone curious about the whoopie cushion will have to read Dave's post for today to understand. :))