I had to deal with a difficult customer at the end of the day today. He was mad, he thought we’d cheated him, he threatened our Customer Service Index scores. He spoke in circles. He wouldn’t let me get a word in edge-wise. In short, he was a pill.
I had to use my skills on the call to make sure he didn’t escalate. I also had one of the owners in my area listening to how I handled the call. So I had to be good.
I am good at what I do. I sometimes am afraid I’ll drop the ball on something, but that’s only because there is a great deal I’m responsible for. I finally have gotten to where I’m only afraid of getting reprimanded; I don’t fear the dire consequences that appear only in my mind. This is progress.
I got to thinking after I passed the call over to the appropriate manager, that being raised by an unpredictable, volatile, verbally abusive parent prepared me for this job. I’m attuned to how other people are feeling, I can read tone of voice and body language well. Those skills, developed out of sheer survival, helped me get through childhood. They helped keep me on alert, watchful for any little change in my parent’s behavior that would bring the world down on my shoulders. I’ve lived for the longest time, waiting for the next boot to drop, waiting for the world to come to an end. Anyone in authority showing even just a neutral affect towards me would send me to the corner, doubting myself, my performance, waiting to be dismissed out of hand. It’s a tough way to live.
With some professional help and a lot of prayer, though, I’ve been able to hone those skills, tone them down, refine them to my benefit. I don’t let an upset customer drive me over the edge. I control the conversation, I make things better. If they upset me, they’d never know it; that’s what walks around the building are for.
Until today, I would have never thought I’d be happy to have had some of the experiences I’ve had surviving my childhood. They’ve made me who I am, and they’ve made me successful at what I do.
Maybe one day, I’ll be able to take those skills and apply them to my parent. It’s something to think about.