The supplement in last weekend’s Dom Post in Wellington (Saturday 26 January 2013) had a feature about the terrible customers that turn up in hospitality settings and the often equally nasty things some workers do to get back at them. It was a story full of horror and negativity.
People who work in customer service, especially in hospitality can get jaded. Customers can be very difficult especially if they are affected by alcohol in bars and restaurants or highly anxious such as when travelling.
Another missed moment at the luxury resort which said they were ‘all about YOU”
The housekeeping staff were very friendly and pleasant of course. When my wife mentioned to the cleaner that there were bits of white fluff on the carpet from something we had dropped she replied "Don't worry, I'll give it a good vacuum when you go".
I recently stayed at a luxury resort as a birthday gift from my family. It was a lovely place and we had a relaxing time except for one thing that I was struck by.
Their by-line was "We're all about YOU". Great I thought, I will be looked after here.
Adam Lanza the gunman who caused such carnage in Newtown Connecticut was a loner. It was difficult for people to show him empathy and difficult for him to receive it. But that is what he needed most from the ordinary people around him.
While changing the gun laws will restrict access to these lethal weapons and may reduce the number of incidents of shootings in America, changing the way we show empathy is a more sustainable way to change the hearts and minds of others and make the world a safe and peaceful place.
A controversy in the news today concerns the publicist for the ACT Party, John Ansell, who sacked himself because the party wouldn’t use some of his copy in their advertisements. Leader Don Brash said he was tempted by some of the statements John Ansell used, but in the end toned them down. John Ansell claimed the whole party are cowards because they won’t speak ‘the truth’ about what is going on.
Without getting into the details of the controversy, here are two things we can learn about workplace communication and community dialogue from this incident.
“Why is she telling me this again, I got it the first time?” Steve thought to himself as he suppressed his annoyance with Jan and wondered how he could finish the conversation quickly.
Steve didn’t realise that he was the one who was prolonging the conversation. He was sure he was listening to Jan. He made eye contact with her and gave her his full attention. He understood clearly what she was saying about the details of the new website and yet somehow she kept repeating herself. Perhaps she needed to go on a communication course.
My nephew Scott Garvie, a Wellington plumber (see Scotty’s Potties), volunteered to work for a week in earthquake-stricken Christchurch. He discovered that people needed to talk even more than they needed their plumbing fixed — and listening became harder than fixing their toilets! My own experience of talking on the phone with friends from Christchurch confirms this. People who have gone through severe shocks, like the earthquake, desperately want to talk about their experiences.
This makes being a good listener so important.
When I rang my friend in Christchurch the other night, his 13 year old son answered the phone. “You must have got quite a shake up by the earthquake” I said. “Nah, not really, it was nothing”, he shot back offhandedly. I was taken aback but didn't pursue the conversation at the time.
Later his father told me that he had stopped his son making inappropriate jokes about the earthquake. At that point I saw clearly how this was the boy’s way of dealing with the scary shake.
People need to be heard. The protests in Egypt show that if people are not acknowledged they will keep on expressing themselves until they are heard.
President Mubarak has not been listening. He comes up with all kinds of excuses as to why he shouldn’t step down as President of Egypt. Because he isn’t listening the people shout louder and more of them join the protest.