I’ve worked in customer service for many years. One huge lesson I’ve learned over the years working with people on the daily is to not take things personally. I really struggle with this because I do have a sensitive personality, but I feel I’ve gotten better.
Is taking things personally a form of selfishness I always wonder? I’m not sure…It does entail taking things (possibly) out of context and spinning them in a manner that relates to you, even if it doesn’t. But I don’t know if selfishness is a proper way to put it. I think it’s more a matter of self-awareness. Some people are just more aware of people around them, and naturally want to be people-pleasers. I consider myself to be hyper-aware, which has both its ups and downs. (However, that’s another topic for another day!)
Anywho, lets get to the point of this post! Today I did some thinking while working at my part-time bartending job after a certain customer interaction.
Example Number 1:
A woman and her husband came in for dinner and drinks tonight. He seemed to be pretty friendly, but she just had resting bitch face from the moment she entered the establishment. Throughout our entire interaction she looked at me skeptically, never smiled, and seemed to have zero personality. My instant reaction was that I somehow offended her (which is ridiculous because I hadn’t even had time to do something wrong). She was so unpleasant that I even started wondering if the music was too loud, if I smiled wrong at her husband, if her drink sucked….etc.
Then I stopped myself. I had to tell myself to STOP making it about me. After the couple left, the mood instantly got lighter. The woman who had sat next to her then told me that this poor woman wakes up every day at 2am to go and work 12 hour days at a job she despises. Why on earth did I personally feel offended by her?! The poor woman was utterly exhausted. And that folks, is example number 1- people’s moods have nothing to do with you (usually).
Example Number 2:
This memorable occurrence happened about 5 years ago when I still worked as a Starbucks barista. A man came in for a cup of coffee. He looked angry from the get-go before I even said hello, so I was a little put off right away. Then he POINTED to what he wanted. He didn’t say hello, he didn’t answer when I asked how he was doing, and he pointed to his beverage of choice. Seriously, how rude?! UNTIL………I found out he was deaf and mute. If this isn’t the worst case of pre-judgement, I don’t know what is. I felt so ashamed of being upset with this man. PRIME example number 2- peoples actions (usually) have nothing to do with you and you don’t know what someone’s going through.
All in all I know it’s a really hard thing, but sometimes you just have to totally remove yourself from the equation and stop taking things personally. By doing your best, being friendly and polite, just know that’s all you can do. You can’t control how people will behave, and usually they have good reason for their behavior, so stop worrying about it. (I’m talking to myself here too) Yes, be mindful of other people, but not so much that you beat yourself up over things that don’t even involve you.
I hope this post was helpful if you too struggle with taking things too personally!
Feature photo credit: Julia Caeser of Unsplash