One of the blogs I (Wendii) read is about the crazy things that happen in customer service. There’s stories from fast food places, call centers and stores, both from the side of the people working there, and from the side of the customer. There’s stories of people who don’t understand that combining purchases will reduce their cost and insisting on buying things separately. There’s people who don’t understand the difference between their username and their password. There’s all sorts of light relief for when I need a break.
What surprises me is that there’s stories about craziness from both sides of the divide. Why don’t we recognize when we’re having one of those frustrating conversations that it could be us? My friends and I went to New Zealand years ago, and for the first time, we went in a Subway. We had JUST got off the plane, had serious jetlag, and one of us was diabetic and needed to eat sharpish. The idea that we couldn’t just buy the bread that we could see was mystifying to us. Of course, the guy behind the counter was unable to explain why we couldn’t buy just the bread, because no-body did that!
When I look back, I don’t wonder that he thought we were crazy. He probably still tells that story too. I try to remember it when I’m having a frustrating conversation which is making no sense. It’s probably not them.
Back up and start from the beginning. In that position I’d probably say: “my friend is diabetic. She needs the extra bread. Is there some way we can make that happen, even if we pay extra for things we don’t need?” Knowing why we wanted what we wanted probably would have helped him help us.
Next time you get in a situation where you’re mystifyingly at odds, try backing up. Find the point at which you and the other people diverge, and try and explain why you want to go the way you want to go. That extra information is usually what allows you both to find a solution.