The other day I was the grocery store, and as I checked out, I was asked by the cashier, “Do you qualify for the senior discount?”
I am a 44-year-old woman, and I take care of myself. There’s no gray hair on my head, I work out, I have good posture, no wrinkles, my teeth are original issue and…well, I just don’t think I look like a senior. So my response was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! You think I’m a senior citizen? What planet are you from??” I paid for my things and stormed out, thinking I would never patronize that store again.
My anger over this continued on throughout the day. I shared the story with my manager (he laughed), my friends (they were completely outraged on my behalf) and my family (they couldn’t believe a woman with such fabulous genes could be insulted in such a way). Then, I shared my story with a wise co-worker, who said, “I would have just said yes and taken the discount.”
I’m a Revolutionary Assistant who’s been known to have a hot head from time to time. Once in a while, my anger scores a victory and I’ll win the war, but other times I hurt no one but myself. Usually a relationship is disrupted either way, and who knows how my anger will come back to bite me the next time I encounter that person?
The cashier may not have been the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but she meant me no harm when she asked the question, and my angry response didn’t teach her a lesson. The same is true for 99% of the situations a Revolutionary Assistant finds herself in. We set up a lot of process as assistants, but we don’t always have a lot of control over people and their actions. Sometimes all we can do is get angry when our “rules” are broken.
For example, it’s difficult to smile when someone has jammed the copy feeder for the tenth time and needs your help to get the machine operational again. Still, what happens when you fly off the handle?
- The person jams the copy feeder for the eleventh time
- He’s too scared to call you
- He tries to fix it himself and breaks it more, or
- He abandons it in its jammed state and when you need an emergency copy, you’re still left fixing it
Anger doesn’t solve anything. You’re always a better business partner to your manager if you maintain good, solid relationships with your co-workers, and you look all the better when you rise above the conflict. When that copy feeder jams for the eleventh time, your co-worker might be so grateful for your optimistic attitude that he takes you to lunch. Or he remembers how you helped him when you make a request for information at 4:59 PM for a package your manager needs to get out tonight. Being pleasant gives you a much better chance of getting what you want from the people you count on to help you get your job done.
Since that day at the grocery store, I’ve been trying to remind myself that Mom was right about honey catching more flies than vinegar does. Now, I aim to be pleasant, let the bad stuff roll off my back, and win the game for myself and for my manager. After all, what’s better than being a fit and nice-looking 44-year-old woman? Being a fit and nice-looking 44-year old woman who just saved 10% on her groceries.
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