Have you ever wondered what it would be like to treat everyone you see as if you were the very first sight they saw upon awakening? Imagine waking up every day to a smile, a hand (or paw, in my case) resting on your leg, or encouraging words. Think about what it would be like to be the person giving these gifts.
We don’t know what everyone around us is going through, but even those of us who are introverts can find a way to be the light in someone’s day.
When you are living with daily problems and are relatively healthy, it can be frustrating and stressful when you are treated rudely over and over again, especially by the same person. Before my diagnosis 6 years ago, I would’ve contacted management to see how they would handle my concerns. The good companies and businesses listen to your feedback, apologize for your experience, and often make it up to you in some way. Perhaps a gift card to use at their store or extra miles with an airline. The businesses that dismiss your concerns, try to blame the problem on you, or won’t admit there’s a problem are the ones I choose not to support with my money anymore.
But when you add a chronic illness to the mix, your experiences with people in the service industry can actually impact your health. I’ve been grappling with this over the past 9 months as I’ve been going to a medical center where the first staff I see are consistently rude. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to go, because my symptoms worsen just thinking about having to check in with one of these three women. Since I go three times a week, I experience more neck tremors and headaches as I’m driving there, the entire time I’m actually at the location, and while I’m heading home. If this was a regular business like I stated above, I would have no qualms about contacting the management and taking my business elsewhere if it didn’t improve.
Unfortunately, when your ability to drive is limited and there is only one place you can physically go for this type of pain management, it isn’t that easy. In fact, I did contact the supervisor numerous times via writing and phone calls, and she didn’t respond at all.
So what do you do when someone is consistently rude to you in the world of business? Do you talk to anyone about it, or do you just expect the customer service to be poor? Over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed a number of employers either don’t teach their employees the skills they need to interact with the public or they don’t require them to adhere to any standards for service. Coming from a family where we owned our own business, this lack of care is very disappointing.
What happened to the days when customer service meant you would be acknowledged right away with a greeting and a smile? I realize we all have our bad days, and that can’t be helped. But when you are getting paid to be the first person someone sees, to provide the service to customers they are paying you to provide, to be a source of healing…that is what you are expected to deliver.
A friend and I were talking about this recently, and she was worried that this center was not a part of my healing terrain. I know she’s right, and I’m in the mode of investigation to see if there’s an affordable alternative I may have missed that’s within my driving range. While it’s been a struggle, it’s also been enlightening to discover how important those first people I see upon entering a medical establishment are to my well-being. That their behavior does impact my Cervical Dystonia symptoms. That no matter how friendly I am when I see these people, I am still treated like a nuisance. And this reminds me that I can add light to others’ days, whether I know them or not. Not only does it feel good to be the receiver, but it feels great to be the giver.
My Hopes: When you are in an environment outside the home, my hope is that you will join me in noticing how people interact with you upon first sight, in addition to how your initial words and behavior may affect someone else. We can have such a positive impact on one another. If you let your light shine, it’s contagious.
My other hope is that we can all aspire to be like the medical institution a friend has been going to for a while now. From the valets to the receptionists, the doctors and the nurses, this person feels completely valued in their care. They all know when to offer support, when to make her laugh, and when to just be present. The quality of care each person gave, no matter what their role, has made a world of difference in the process of healing. I’m so grateful she had that experience and that these employees made an effort to connect with each person they encountered. What if you and I were shining our own lights like this every day? You never know. You just might have a positive impact on someone’s health. I can’t imagine any of us would intentionally want to make someone’s chronic illness worse. Since we often don’t know who those people are that are suffering, why not be kind to everyone?