I woke up this first day of 2015 with a smashing headache, naturally brought on by too much indulgence. . . but also quite inexplicably thinking about the Aurora movie theater shootings as well. As I was preparing my breakfast, I then began to think about a conversation my brother and I have often had surrounding customer service and thought, “maybe customer service could save the world.” Bear with me here. . . because these are the trips my mind often travels.
My family and I lived two suburbs away from the Aurora Theater attacked in the summer of 2012 shootings. It is difficult to describe the deep heaviness that falls over a community when something like this happens. There is a vulnerability felt, particularly by a community that has suffered this type of atrocity too many times before. Having moved around the country for the previous 12 years, and watched other tragic events such as 9/11 play out on television, I was struck by how very different it felt to live in the community affected.
Shortly after the news of the shootings broke, I stood in front of my yoga class, wondering what if anything to say. That day I spoke about the importance of community.
All too often, we like to close ourselves off when tragedy strikes. We desire to withdrawal, to escape. This is exactly the opposite of what we should do and of what is necessary to heal. . .the world and ourselves.
Neither the smallest slight or insult nor biggest atrocity was EVER committed from a sense of being deeply connected and rooted in one’s community. ~ Me
I can’t think of a single post tragedy interview in which it was said that the perpetrator was deeply connected and involved in their community. Can you?
So, back to my conversations with my brother. . . he and I have spent many years in the world of customer service. He currently oversees 5 markets in our town and says that often times when trying to teach customer service skills to employees, he is met with resistance. As a matter of fact, one employee informed him that they felt being required to smile at their customers and chitchat with them was an invasion of that employee’s personal space and offended them!
“Our job is to relate to people.” ~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
In his book, Walk Like A Buddha, Lodro Rinzler writes, “your job is not just ‘sales clerk’ or ‘educator’ or ‘social worker’ but that you are, in essence, in customer service. We are all in customer service.” He goes on to say, “our whole job is to relate with people.”
It seems to me that we are living in a time when it is easier and easier to disconnect ourselves from personal interactions. We can easily escape into media and technology and falsely claim that is how we stay connected. It doesn’t take great tragedy to make us want to escape; we have made a habit of it in our daily lives.
The truth is however, that our daily distractions and diversions of social media and the like are a poor substitute for a smile, for truly being seen and acknowledged, for knowing someone’s name or true passions because you actually asked them. . .with your vocal cords.
In 2015, I encourage you to make connection and community a top priority. Put down your phones; get off your computers (after you read my blog. . . joking) and gaming systems, as a matter of fact. . . Don’t eat at your desk and work through lunch. . . go somewhere, look up, see and hear the person in front of you. SMILE at someone! Ask the person at the counter how their day is going. Ask your co-worker what their passions are. The next person you see who looks sad, ask how you can help. And then listen. . .
Approach 2015 as though your whole job is to simply relate to people. Will a smile or customer service save the world? Perhaps, perhaps not. . . but we all know that the world could use better customer service. . .so it can’t hurt.