Customer Service Wisdom: Don’t Take it Personally
If someone tell you that you’re stupid, what is your first reaction?
- Do you immediately believe them, cast your eyes down and crawl into a cave?
- Do you start to sob uncontrollably?
- Do you say, “I know you are but what am I?”
- Or, do you dig up a classic and say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!“
Now, stop reading this post and find the closest piece of paper and pen. Write down the following phrase in big, bold letters:
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Now, hang that note in a place where you’ll see it every day–your mirror, your fridge, your computer screen, wherever!
Last week, I wrote about The Power of Your Word in Customer Service , all about The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, guides you toward finding personal freedom and erasing self-limiting beliefs. The four agreements discussed are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. -Don Miguel Ruiz
In customer service, we regularly take the punches of frustrated and angry people. We’re easily called names and talked down to simply because we’re just a voice on the other end of the phone. If we step back and look at the big picture, we’ll see that the person yelling and screaming about their service isn’t mad at you at all. They are mad that something isn’t working in their own life. They are “projecting their own reality” smack dab onto you.
You have the choice to eat this “emotional garbage, as Ruiz refers to it, or empty it out in the back of the trash truck to be taken to the dump. You don’t have to carry this with you. You have the choice to feel offended or to let it slide right off your back like a duck.
On our blog, we talk often about un-ruining someone’s day. While this is ultimately the goal in customer service, this particular post is more about YOU and making sure you’re taking care of yourself in order to have the strength to un-ruin your own day as well as that customer’s day, with your magical service skills.
So, how do you even begin to not take things personally? While I definitely struggle with this, here are some tips to get you on your way:
- Awareness: Simply being aware that you take things personally is HUGE! For a week, try keeping an “Awareness Log” and when you notice yourself taking something personally that is not true, jot down a mark. How many do you have at the end of the week?
- Acknowledge:What’s going on when you jot down those marks? What are you feeling on the inside? What are you telling yourself? Are you talking lots of negative self talk? Are you feeling anger toward another person or situation? No wrong way to feel but give yourself the option to acknowledge how you’re feeling each time you take something personally.
- Action: What cha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk? Okay, sorry, couldn’t resist! But, really–with all that “emotional garbage” sitting inside, what are you going to do about it? Can you make peace with it and know how to act differently next time?
So, over all, it’s definitely not easy to not take things personally, in and out of the office. But awareness that it’s happening, acknowledgement of your feelings behind it and taking action toward steps to help you cut back on it are great steps in the right direction toward being even more awesome than you already are!
Good word Jenny. I’m definitely guilty of this. I’m aware of what I take personally but then really need to not let it eat me up all day.
One of the reasons not taking it personally is so hard is because it’s instinctive.
“Don’t take it personally” is like telling someone “don’t be offended” or “don’t laugh” or “stop crying before I give you something to cry about.”
It’s not easy, but I like to use a little “customer service judo” in these situations. I start with your step one, “Awareness” and then try to re-direct that “take it personally feeling” into personally caring about how the customer feels. I make it my personal mission to help them feel better.
It does bear repeating — this is definitely not easy.
Such great customer service judo for how to re-direct that feeling. I really dig that! Thanks, Jeff!
It’s definitely NOT easy to do and me being the emotional sponge I am, I’m constantly soaking up all this stuff…but at least we’re all in this together, right? 🙂
We are definitely all in this together!!
Thank Ü for CLARITY …. JEFF
Ür explanation that it is Instinctive makes sense and will help me to pause for one second longer
So I do not absorb & So I do not take personal
I truly appreciate Ür wisdom. Thank Ü 4 Sharing
God Bless Ü Jeff
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This was a great read! Thanks for the advise.