Do you remember the last time when you encountered someone who was just plain rude to you? I remember my last encounter very well. I went to a store and could not find the product I was looking for. I asked an associate who shrugged his shoulders and answered that he didn’t know. That he wasn’t quite knowledgeable about the product was the least thing that bothered me. It was HOW he responded: Making a face indicating that he felt bothered by my question, chewing gum, having an unpleasant attitude, and a sheer lack of customer service skills. And above all that, it was his rudeness that really ticked me off.
I could have just walked away in frustration and asked another associate or complained to a manager. These were my initial thoughts racing through my mind while he ended his sentence, still chewing on his gum. But I had another idea. In a sweet, pleasant voice I thanked him so much for taking the time and speaking with me about the product even though he was so extremely busy and hard at work. I looked him in the eyes and smiled at him. Then I paused, still looking and smiling at him.
The associate looked back at me, kind of startled. He raised his eyebrows for a few seconds, and I could tell that his brain was hard at work processing what I had just said. And then he turned his former grim face into a large smile, thinking about what to say next. And then he said, “Sure – any time! That’s what I’m here for, right?” And he turned around and walked away, still smiling.
I went the other way and left the store, granted – without buying anything and probably not returning. But I felt good in a way, because I managed to turn a disgruntled, rude behavior into a friendly one. Although it was short lived, it was there and came out from behind all that rudeness. And the way to do it was to respond to rudeness with kindness and friendliness. That did it.
Just try it the next time with someone who is rude to you.