Sunday, July 31, 2011
One additional key to finding happiness is…
Learning to say “No.”
Are you dealing with clients who demand to be accommodated to the point you are always playing catch up? Well, you’re the one who keeps saying yes. So it’s not the pushy clients who are the problem – it’s you. There is a difference between going out of your way to be helpful and disregarding your own needs.
If this sounds harsh, let me use my current work situation to illustrate. I haven’t worked in customer service since waiting tables in college. I’d forgotten how stressful dealing with irate people can be – if you let it. The office that I’m working in is fast-paced. I mean, I put in two and a half weeks before I was able to send one personal e-mail during work hours (shhhh). There is constantly a fire to put out – and everyone is stressed and frazzled. This past Friday at 4:30, I got a call from a Lieutenant Colonel who needed us to fax information to a financial office so he could move into his new home. I responded by saying that the specialist who handles this was on an appointment and to be honest, I wasn’t sure that it was possible to accomplish that day.
He explained his circumstances and said that he and his family would have nowhere to go for the weekend. I stopped what I was doing to track down the supervisor. I explained the Lieutenant Colonel’s predicament, and she set aside what she was working on to finish his application. I faxed it over, confirmed it was received via phone, and even scanned the item to be sent to his personal e-mail. We shifted our priorities to accommodate the family, however, neither of us stayed late or left something crucial unfinished. Worst case scenario, is that this family would have had to rent a hotel for the weekend. But by going out of my way, I felt good about helping this family. He was sincerely grateful. Both parities won
However, in the same office at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, my coworker was completely and utterly defeated. She has a big heart, and tries to accommodate everyone she works with. She genuinely feels for others. Some days, she cries. Today, she mutters the words “I can’t do this anymore.” She had agreed to move a family out of their home at 4:30 even though her last appointment is supposed to be a 3 p.m. and she had hours worth of work awaiting her afterwards. She often stayed in the office until six or seven on days she didn’t have to work her second job at a community center. Mere minutes until her 4:30 appointment, the family still did not have the house ready for inspection. This was the time (if not even earlier) where my co-worker could have said no. Even the manager told her to say no. She had already gone out of her way and the family was still not ready. It was most likely their own fault or something due to unforeseen circumstances. Either way, it is not my coworker’s responsibility. Yet, because she feels badly for the family, she takes on this responsibility.
What about her? Does the family feel badly for her? Not likely. They don’t know how much work she’s been doing lately. They don’t understand just how far out of her way she was going to help them out. They don’t know she has to work two jobs just to make her rent and her accommodating their needs takes away from her precious few hours to relax. Worst case scenario, the family is charged for an extra day’s rent. It’s really not the end of the world. But for my co-worker, this is one more day that pushes her to the edge of quitting her job. If she said no more often, the families might be inconvenienced, but they would live. My co-worker, however, won’t fare as well. This is her life and her livelihood. But she’s also the one standing in the way of her own happiness.
How do you stand in the way of your happiness?