Archives for December 2011

Great Customer Service is Not Optional

I have been in the business of dealing with people my whole life. You probably have too. Starting with family dynamics, moving into school days, then professionally, I do not live in a bubble. Working with, around, and for people is just a way of life.

In real estate I deal with a ton of people. These great folks have questions, they are making big decisions. I am a needed advisor. I appreciate that and I do my best to fulfill that role.

I fail sometimes, we all do. But, great customer service is not optional – it is necessary.

I was shopping last night with my family. I think I found a great gift. Unfortunately I will never know because I didn’t buy it. Well, actually I did buy it. However, when the total was much more than what I expected, I asked questions. And, oh boy, did I get answers. Loud answers, with a big heaping of attitude, a bit of finger pointing, with some slight neck work.

“It really is fine,” I said. “I think I just misunderstood.”

“Well,” more finger, neck, and attitude, “you said you had shopped here before.”

Really, that’s the answer? I have done business with you at some point so I am aware of all the little nuances of your workings? And because I have shopped here before I can expect to be talked to like an idiot in front of your whole store?

I again mentioned it was fine and turned to leave. I changed my mind and returned the gift. I was not spending money in that store today. I attempted to be as polite as I could to the cashier. I gushed apologies to those waiting in line. I was not trying to be ugly or cause a scene. I simply will not support that type of behavior. Everyone seemed to understand.

I supposed I could have gotten angry. But this lesson of customer service goes deeper than two people separated by a sales counter. It speaks to the larger movement of how we treat one another. It occurred to me that mean is usually loud. The majority responds by stooping to that level against their own character, or simply sucking it up to forgo the confrontation. There has to be a third option. The polite, “I am not participating in this behavior” choice.

Dealing with others, I think it is important to remember a few key factors

  1. If someone is trying to be nice, let them and respond in kind.
  2. If someone is testy, remember we all have had bad days. There is no way to know who their last conversation was with or what other factors are at play. You could be the one smile that lifts their spirits.
  3. When someone insists on behaving poorly, interact only insomuch as you have to and with your own integrity. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Be who you are based on your own inner compass. Keep you in tact. Get it done and move on.
  4. Regardless of which side of the transaction or relationship we are on, respect and kindness are appropriate.

Regardless of your industry or how you spend the majority of your time, it is probable that you interact with others on a regular basis. I am sure you have more to add. Please feel free to do so. How do you pursue kindness with others? What do you do when that just isn’t going to work?

God in the Chaos

Alrighty, so we all grow and evolve right? I too grow and evolve. Some folks don’t like to talk about it too much because they feel like, well I don’t know what they feel like. I do know what I feel like.

  • Go public and mess up – that’s always fun
  • Put it out there and change your mind – flip flopper
  • Make the statement and be misunderstood – there goes those hurt feelings
  • Have the conversation and be berated – party in the house!
  • try to do better and then be picked apart and judged – number one on my bucket list

Well, here’s the deal. All that stuff is scary and all. But, I have come to the conclusion that scary does not make my choices for me…and scary certainly isn’t the way I wish to run my life.

So I will tell you I have been VERY occasionally posting on another blog called “Shared Quiet Moments.” Very occasionally because writing about faith was difficult for me. Sometimes it still is…but, it has become obvious that I am supposed to write about it more…at the very least it should influence my writing (and everything else a bit more). In fact, dealing with this idea has slowed down all aspects of my writing – professional, personal, the book…that cannot be allowed to continue. It is time to move forward.

What does this mean? There will be a bit more God in the Chaos. It also means if you also read Making Life Work for You, you may notice some changes over there as well (but maybe not so obvious).

What does this not mean? I am not attempting to convert or push…I am simply sharing. I am also disclosing my bias. If you are single, that is your perspective. If you own a dog, love hunting, own a business, enjoy wineries…that is your bias. I am a Catholic and this is one of mine.

It also does not mean that I am instantly perfect. My husband will attest to that 🙂 Honestly, I am not sure what exactly it changes, but I just wanted to warn you. I am fairly certain I will still call bullshit bullshit. Oh lookie there, I will 🙂 I am certain my sarcasm level, while dimmed a bit because I do not wish to go back to negative or mean, will still be a major characteristic. I am certain I will still discuss beer, skanky girl toys, ridiculous politics and the like. I am certain I will still be me…just as always…with slight upgrades…

Chaos 2.0 (or ver. 12 – I lost count).

I’m Bringing Sexy Back

I swear I think I have used this post title before…I think it had something to do with Lani…but I can’t remember. And, while Lani is indeed sexy (and fits everything about this post as well), let me tell you who else is sexy.

Rocky Turner is sexy. Angela Miller is sexy. Travis Robertson is sexy. Glad Doggett is sexy. Simcha Fisher is sexy. Brad Nix is sexy. Jessica Lebos is sexy. Lisa Leake is sexy. Jenny Rosenstrach is sexy…I could go on. In fact, in future posts, I will.

What is so sexy about these folks and tons of people just like them?

They are crazy, sexy, kind.

They know a lot of stuff – some of it fairly controversial in some circles. And they teach, share, and help – all while caring for the folks in their midst.

Does this sound easy to you? It isn’t. When you are filled with passion and you are witness to struggle, innovation, failure, hurt, success, choices…it is easy to bulge out your eyes, stick out your chest, point lots of fingers, and rage against what you see as the lesser way. It is easy, but it is not helpful, it isn’t kind, and it certainly isn’t sexy.

Kindness is sexy. Highlighting it has become my mission.

For reasons I am still fleshing out, the anger, frustration, cruelty, and general “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality of our current affairs has really disturbed my heart. This teaching by shaming, message by firing squad, and conversion of idea by beratement has me thinking back to an old Navy (and probably other organizations) saying, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Yeah, that looks like it will work…

A chaotic good character favors change for a greater good, disdains organizations that get in the way of improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well.
~ Brad Nix

When the disturbance of my heart over all the meanness first started, I reacted the way most people would – I got angry with the enraged and mean with the meanies – yeah, I am the poster child for effective :/. That didn’t last long because my heart couldn’t take it. Having that kind of emotion in me was exhaustingly soul killing – seriously, I don’t know how some of those folks do it. So, for a minute, I did nothing – worse, I gave up on the idea entirely and resigned the world of influence to the loud and obnoxious. Gracefully, I found another way.

My audience is small but purposeful. My voice is little but it is still heard. And when kindness is extended once, it has this uncanny ability to grow. I have faith in that. So I am gonna try it…besides, I think it is sexy…

*Feature Photo Credit Katerha

2012 Manifesto – Because I Like the Word “Manifesto”

It has been an interesting year…looking back on 2011 as it comes to a close, it seems while one might say “business as usual” there are actually some fairly interesting movements.

Typically, I start each new year with an anthem of sorts…and honestly, I can’t remember what this year’s was. I suppose I could go back and look at some of the places I would have recorded it. But frankly, if I can’t remember, that says something about its importance.

Knocking on the door of 2012, I know there are things that have to change. They have to change because I have changed. I am known for a pretty thick skin. It has worn a bit thin. While I am more comfortable in it, I feel through it a bit differently. Situations that I could view or pass through unscathed now move me in ways that are distracting. My eyes well on a regular basis. My heart hurts. I feel sadness. It isn’t that I myself am sad, or my own circumstances cause pain, but the empathy for those around me.

I witnessed a great deal of pain, sickness, hurt, death, and despair this year. I also experienced great joy, love, creation, and happiness. I doubt there were more occurrences – I am simply more susceptible to its effects.

Things that used to seem interesting or even slightly important now seem pivotal and game changing…

Even as I write this, I realize I am not saying all the things I want to say. It is becoming clear that this movement will develop itself…continue to develop itself…as I grow and learn with it.

I know that I am not all that I could be. I also know that it is not because I fail – but because I have so much potential, I have great room for expansion! I know I make mistakes, I realize that I am not perfect. I understand that if I were to run for a public office, it would be interesting. But I also know that I am a fabulous person. I am not scarred by failure and missteps. I am enriched by experience and journeys.

This year I became a runner. It has had a marked effect on me as a person. It has strengthened nearly every aspect of my person, created some beautiful friendships, and has become a core characteristic of who I am. The combination of time alone, exercise to the body, and a great illustration of my personal fortitude have created a deeper understanding of all that I am capable of.

This year I have owned my profession. For the first time I refuse to accept second best in any aspect of my professional life. I have gone back to school. I have forged new relationships. I have clarified roles, positions, expectations. I accept full responsibility for things that are mine. I do not martyr myself for others who refuse to do the same. I appreciate that there will always be critics and people who have nothing better to do than to try to drag down others. They can do that by themselves – I am not playing that game anymore.

This year I have learned that meanness is a major contributor of all things ugly in the world. Its root is fear. Fear makes for dark places. I am learning to place more emphasis on compassion than right, grace than win, comfort than conversion. I have learned that people are defensive, not because they are created that way, but because they are conditioned to proverbial face slaps whenever a weakness or a fault shows through the façade. So we fake. And we puff out our chests and berate others over the one thing we have gotten right so that maybe no one will notice all the other things we have yet to figure out. Because we can’t be weak…we can’t be wrong…we can’t fail…yeah, I am calling bullshit on all of that. A little harsh in the language category? Maybe, but I am thinking I am going to get pretty darn militant about compassion, grace, and comfort.

This year my family is nearing the conclusion of the journey that will bring us fully into the Catholic faith. It has done more to strengthen our resolve as a family and increase our compassion to humanity in general than I can begin to explain to you. Is this an evangelical mission? Not unless you want it to be…otherwise, it is simply me sharing with you another moment in my year. Interesting that I even feel I have to qualify that…something I will need to chew on…at any rate, this journey is becoming more evident in nearly everything I do. I was nervous about that for a minute. I am not so much anymore.

I am excited about 2012. I am looking for wondrous happenings. I am as prepared as one can be for more heartbreak…because I am committed to loving and serving more fully. In that position, heartbreak just happens – I am working on no longer judging that as good or bad…it just is…and hurting for others is proof of the love for others. Compassion moves with people where they are…and sometimes those places are painful.

But I am committed to the rainbows and unicorns. I am committed to smiles and hugs. I am completely sold out to motivational posters and talking in bumper sticker…because, quite frankly, I am thinking that a happy dork is going to be more productive as a human than a hateful suave.

Photo credit to Planet Breathe