on my second to last table of the night, i got my first complaint at work. and it really hurt my feelings. not only did i disagree with the statements they made, i also believed some of the events they described to be untrue. regardless, a complaint is a complaint and it was handled appropriately. and even before receiving the complaint, i observed several acts of unkindness throughout my 12-hour shift today, . too much of it actually. maybe it was because i was tired and was going off of four hours of sleep, or that i was paying too much attention to other people’s words and actions, or maybe it was just that people simply were not being nice.
i saw customers waving their empty glasses in their server’s face rather than requesting more water. i saw adults throwing mini tantrums over their steaks being cooked incorrectly. i read purposely unkind words directed to people over facebook. i heard rude words and gossip. i didn’t hear as many thank-you’s as i could have. what’s important to realize is that there are reasons behind people’s actions. yes. some of those people may have just been having a bad day. and yes, of course you want the meal you are paying for to come out the way you like it. and yes, sometimes people do things that are displeasing. it is okay to be angry or mad. but why is it okay to be mean? i am sorry, but i just don’t think it is. regardless of the kind of day you are having, the way you respond to it influences the way that others respond to their day. and like kindness, unkindness can have a ripple effect too.
i am not saying that you don’t have the right to get upset, because of course you do. those emotions let us know that something is wrong, anger encourages us to find a solution. but the goal should be to solve problems, not hurt feelings. and if you are truly interested in getting your needs met (whatever they may be) then you would also be interested in doing so in an effective way.
to be more specific, shaking an empty glass of water in my face does not encourage me to drop everything and fill up your water. and ranting/venting/complaining about individuals or behaviors over facebook does not get to the heart of the manner. and fighting a battle through degrading comments and hurtful words doesn’t promote resolution of a problem. in fact, it creates a bigger problem. and to be honest, i truly just don’t get it. it is easy to be mean. throw out a few mean comments and criticisms, escalate the problem, do everything but solve the issue. but really, what is the point? why choose being mean or unkind to get your way? from my experience, this doesn’t always work. and when it does, people are usually more interested in getting you to stop complaining than they are interested in solving the problem.
from my point of view, you can get what you want more effectively by doing something different. you can get the same results (if not better) by simply being nice. even if something went completely wrong, and even if it made you incredibly angry, use the anger to solve the problem. and just to be clear, anger doesn’t have to mean name calling, yelling, blaming, or being hurtful. you can be angry while still being nice.
today was meaningful because i just don’t see any point to being mean.
today was also meaningful because i realized that there is a difference between being angry and being unkind.
after waiting on difficult customers i went to the table to find they had left me no tip and a really unkind note. they then proceeded to write an email to complain. i can understand the complaint. and i am sorry for dissatisfying them by not prebussing the bread basket and plates. but i can’t understand the unkindness they attached to it. i am not sure why it was necessary to hurt my feelings along the way.
how you treat people matters. you have the potential to make someone’s day better or make someone’s day worse. and what you decide to do says a lot about you.
the point of being unkind is to hurt people’s feelings.
and i hope that is not your goal.
i live by three simple sentences.
be kind. be kind. be kind.