After waiting 20 minutes on the line for a customer service rep to get back to me, the line suddenly goes dead. When I call back, and after re-stating all the preliminaries – my name, email address, phone number, and what the issue is, I end up getting bumped to someone else. After restating everything again, I’m told it isn’t something they deal with, and they end the call. I know it is something they deal with, so if I have time to do it all over again, I try another time, hoping to get someone else who is more responsive.
Have you ever experienced this?
Probably – it’s more common that anyone would like. All I really needed from that rep were words like r “That sucks, would you mind holding for a few minutes while I see what I can do?” (and then after a few minutes get back to me with an update). I know before I call that my problem might not be fixed the way I’d like, but knowing the person at the other end is doing their best leaves me feeling that person cares, and I end up trusting that they will follow through.
Seth Godin talks about how hard it is to build trust, and how easy to destroy it: All it takes is a moment – a few thoughtless words, “a heartless broken promise, a lack of empathy” – and the trust is gone.
As a therapist and coach, building trust is all-important. I go to great lengths to let my clients know that they are stepping into a safe space with me. Without that security, there’s no way they can do their work. I also know how easy it is to break that trust with a thoughtless word or gesture.
The way to build trust – and to break it – is simple. When I care about the person in front of me, I build trust; when I don’t care, I break it.
This holds true for the customer service rep, the owner of the local dry cleaner, the banker, our financial advisor – even the mailman. It also holds true for our close relationships.
John Gottman steps through what makes intimate relationships either what he calls “master” or “disaster” relationships. In a relationship that works – a “master” relationship – the two people show, in various ways, that they care for the other person. They do this by listening, by keeping a space open for them, by being gentle in their approach. In relationships that are “disasters”, the two people show they don’t care mostly because they feel defensive and are so busy protecting themselves that they haven’t the capacity to care.
At this point, it’s interesting to see the way we relate to another as the way we relate to ourselves – that whoever is in front of us is in an important way a mirror of ourselves. If we show contempt towards that mirror, what we’re really doing is showing contempt for ourselves. When we care for that person in the mirror, we care for ourselves.
And so, the next time you find yourself about to yell at that neglectful customer service rep, try this: take a moment and a few deep breaths, and then mirror some genuine care for their lives. And see what happens.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions. In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Simon Sinek – Why good leaders make you feel safe
Quote of the Week
When people cared about each other, they always found a way to make it work.
– Nicholas Sparks
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org