Getting Along with Sullkers and Ranters

Another blogger has a discussion going on the lack of good communications skills nowadays.  Impatient people grumbling, growling, blowing up.  You can read the whole post at http://searchingforthehappiness.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/does-anyone-know-how-to-communicate-anymore/

I shared a couple of experiences from my Donut Shop days and decided to share those thoughts here too, as a Saturday morning musing:

Perhaps part of what’s wrong with people’s attitudes comes out of the ‘boob tube’. In their favorite shows the characters are in constant conflict. It adds drama. If there was a TV show where everyone got along — or a book without villains — who’d watch it or read it.

After seeing all this excitement and suspense on the screen, life would be too blah for a lot of people if they just got along with everyone; it feels good to have an adversary to focus on, fume against and complain about.  How much conversation is made up of repeating in shocked tones, “Can you believe she did this” or “And then he says to me…”

This adds drama to the boring routine of life. Then once you have antagonists (real or imagined) — people who are out to thwart you — well, of course you are justified in responding in like antagonism. Soon everyone is your adversary and you’re snapping their heads off one by one.

Another factor: One older lady I worked with just wasn’t happy unless
A: someone had done something nasty to her. “My sister invited my two other siblings to the party, but not me.” She’d talk about it all day. Even if the weather forecast was for snow and ice, she was delighted to tell every customer how awful the driving would be that night.
B: She could get under one of her co-worker’s skin. Another worker told her one day, “Blue, you are never happy unless you’re making someone else miserable.” I kid you not; if she knew she was getting to you, she’d be absolutely gleeful.

She could take the slightest negative remark and “reword” it to a major insult and rehash it with others all day. I concluded the woman was addicted to self-pity. When she had reason to feel sorry for herself it seemed to comfort her.

I see too much of myself in her; sometimes it feels nice to have something to complain about.  Please forgive me, Lord!

It’s amazing though, what you can do with grouchy, grumbling people like this (gulp — ME?) if you make them realize you’re on their side.  One day a customer came into our donut shop and wanted Earl Grey Tea. For some reason we didn’t have any right then and that set him off. “I’ve been here… I’ve been there, NOBODY has E.G.Tea… It’s popular. Why don’t you have it? Rant, rant…”

I agreed with him. “You’re right, we should. It is popular and we should stock it. Next time you come in we’ll have it.” Next time he came in I told him right off, “We have your E.G.Tea.” He was mollified and a bit less grouchy.

Next time he was in, the Lord gave me an excellent opportunity to be on this man’s side. I’d filled his travel mug with E.G.Tea and he’d paid, turned around and was about to walk out when I called him back. “You forgot your mug.” He’d left it on the counter.

He came back sheepishly mumbling about forgetting his head if it wasn’t attached. After he left a co-worker, remembering the first incident, said, “I’d have just let him forget it here.”

But going the second mile paid off for me; after that I found him fairly pleasant, though I heard one of his own workers say of him, “He’s one of the most miserable men alive.”

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