Thursday, June 12, 2014

On Being Nice

Three months ago, I started a new part-time job at a convenience store.  Recently at work, one of my co-workers commented on how "nice" I was.  I'm sure she meant it as a compliment, but since we're all working in the same store and for the same organization, I thought her comment was kinda weird and it gave me something to think about....

Here's the mission statement from our store:  "To serve our customers and community more effectively than anyone else by treating our customers, co-workers, and suppliers as we, personally, would like to be treated and to make a difference in someone's life."  Simple, right?  Kind of a variation on the Golden Rule and I like this idea. 

If I walked up to a clerk in the store only to have them speak to me in a fast and impatient way, I'd be really put off by that.  And sadly, I've seen and heard several co-workers who respond to customers that way.  Yes, I know we're busy and yes, I see there are 6 customers waiting in line, but can we not still show each customer a few moments of courtesy and kindness? 

Years ago (>15 yrs) when I worked for an employer that utilized "peer reviews" for our annual appraisals, one of my co-workers stated that I was impatient and difficult to get along with (she was an extremely sensitive person and I probably was).  Sadly, that review stayed in my personnel file and prevented me from transferring to any other work areas at that company, because no supervisor wanted a "meany" working for them.  I eventually left the company, but the comments in that review haunt me to this day. 

Now, lest you think I'm a truly lovely person, let me set the record straight right here -- I'm Not!!  If thought bubbles were visible, I would have not made it past my first week at this new job.  I see a lot of things that truly piss me off and it's hard to bite my tongue and be the person who comes in and pays for Funyuns & a 12-pack or Mountain Dew with their EBT card, or the person who comes into "my" clean bathroom and creates a shit explosion that I have to clean up, or the person who does a gas drive-off for $93 on a pump I authorized.  However, to counteract that, there are all kinds of nice people who come in and really make my day better. 

There's no way to know what some of these people are dealing with in their lives, we have lots of senior citizen customers who maybe don't have any family members nearby and are lonely.  We have truckers who are only an hour or so away from home, but end up spending the nite because they are at their maximum hours for driving.  Many travelers stop by our store in the middle of a trip:  to a funeral, taking their child to college, or returning from a 24-hour vigil at the hospital where a grandchild just had surgery.  It's my pleasure to take a few minutes to talk with them.  Maybe I'll never see them again, but hopefully they will remember their visit to my store and possibly stop in the future, or at one of our other stores, based solely on the fact that someone was "nice" to them at a previous store visit.

So yeah, I think I'll just keep on being nice (at least when I'm being paid for it....)  Simple to do and makes most everyone feel better.  And if my co-workers think I'm weird, well, I guess that's their problem.  I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, cuz I know when I'm the customer in any store, even if I have to wait, I'm always going to choose that "nice" cashier I had on a previous visit.

So I'll end this rant with my standard farewell for my customers, "Thanks for stopping.  Please come see us again!" 



Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you had to say about "niceness" keeping customers coming back. It is way too easy to alienate somebody so they never come back, even though they may really like the store itself. So keep up your ways, they are good ones!!

Mama Pea said...

Oh, for sure, Ruthie! What a better world we would all have to live in if more people felt the way you do. I believe it actually hurts your body (both physically and mentally) if you emit negative vibrations and, of course, the reverse is true, too. Even when there are times when we don't feel like being "Ms. Cheerful," just putting on a little act that you ARE pleasant and happy not only helps those you come in contact with but will change your own mood in short order.

Yay, yay, yay for your rant. I'm betting you'll be a very good influence on your fellow employees who think you're "weird!"

KGMom said...

I can totally believe you are "nice." Anyone who knits the lovely things you do and then shares them with other people...well, that's proof enough.

I agree that encountering pleasant people in a setting such as where you work is the best way to keep customers. I try to reciprocate--sometimes when I see someone doing a job that many people might ignore, I try to say something to them--such as "thank you for what you do". It is amazing how much people brighten when you tell them you appreciate what they do.

Gaelyn said...

Thank you for being nice, and posting about it. Service establishments rarely provide friendly, or efficient service these days. A smile and a moment can make someone's day. And as a Ranger my thought bubbles would offend sometimes but my friendliness makes up for it.

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Penelopedia said...

Kudos to you, Ruthie. I know the niceness, or lack thereof, cuts both ways, and some customers make no effort to be nice to those who are serving them. Customer or employee, it shouldn't be hard to remember that you're interacting with another human being and that we all appreciate a smile and a courteous word. But maybe some people could use a good example, and you can be that for them. Cheers to you!

troutbirder said...

Yes indeed. I also think its' more ingrained in our State than many other parts of the country. Minnesota Nice we call it...:)

Mollie said...

Hi Nature Knitter! I didn't know you were still blogging! How exciting to see that you are. I think I used to get notices that a new post was up on your blog & when they stopped I thought you had stopped. No matter--your post about being nice was thought provoking. I don't think it's weird that a co-worker said you were nice. She probably has seen some not-very-nice co-workers in action. And I agree about customer service--I make a point of exchanging a few words with the clerk, wherever I am. Grocer, pet food store, drug store. Just ask them how they're doing. Sometimes we have almost an entire conversation! Too much texting/emailing out there--face to face communication is a good thing. And I work at a university and see undergraduates who need help, have a scheduling problem, etc. And I make an effort to listen to them, not jump to conclusions, and to hide MY thought bubbles!! Students seem genuinely surprised that I am willing to spend time with them. And not be short or sound impatient. So, yeah, we're all a mixture of nice and crabby and sad and happy and all of that. I applaud you for making people feel better. What goes around comes around. And I haven't met you in person, but I KNOW that you have a good amount of NICE in you. Take good care.