I've always wondered why so many people who work in a customer service atmosphere whether through, text, an actual phone call or face to face; can have such lack of empathy.
I've worked in the Airline Industry for over 30 years now. Currently I work for American Airlines (formerly UsAirways formerly America West Airlines) Through the years of working with the general public I've learned to be a problem solver. Yes, I've been called every name in the book.
Many times I try hard to keep from laughing when a snow storm keeps a passenger from getting from point A to point B they are furious because the planes are obviously grounded for take off. I can appreciate the frustration however God is in charge of the weather not American Airlines. Finding some balance with people is sometimes a challenge especially when voices are raised and tears are falling. My heart usually reaches out and I am able to help them understand the reality of their situation. It's not always the ending they were expecting but showing a little understanding for their inconvenience whether American Airlines has a maintenance issue or nature decides to rear her nasty head of rain, snow or sleet it helps them feel validated.
Today instead of ending my calls with "Thank you for calling American Airlines have a good day" I chose to say "Thank you for calling American Airlines, I hope you have a Happy Day!" In making a conscious effort to do this the cadence in not only my voice changed but the passengers noticed from the moment I answered their call. In my job I have heard every heartbreaking story, every white lie and excuse in the book. Today was no different, I just chose to hear things with a smile on my face. Call after call each and every passenger made a comment about my positive attitude, they thanked me for listening, apologized for attacking me and I hung up feeling happy myself. I was less stressed, full of energy and excited to do it again tomorrow.
When I started working in the airline industry I was a totally different person than I am now in fact I am a different woman than I was two years ago. I shutter when I think about how many times those heartfelt stories went on deaf ears as they would explain the tragic death of a child, husband, wife mom, dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin etc. I was so much about the business at hand I forgot to take into consideration these are real live people with real problems. Perspectives have changed, today a woman started to cry when I asked how I could assist her. She proceeded to make arrangements for her son who would be flown home from the war--in a body bag--I tried hard to keep the tears from falling but was unsuccessful. Her choice of words was shocking to me, however the pain in her voice was something I will not soon forget. So, do I say "have a good day?" or "have a happy day?" Neither, because I knew the trauma she was experiencing I asked her if there was anything, anything at all left I could do to make this easier for her. Her response was, "You were the person I needed to talk to today. Thank you for listening." It was a simple reply to a complicated relm of emotions she was feeling.
I had choices today, lots of choices. I'm happy with the ones I made. I promised this mother I would be thinking about the sacrifice her son made on Memorial Day in just a couple of weeks and hoped she would feel some relief knowing he was serving his country.
Happiness is a choice, but I also believe we all have a triggers within us that can cause an uproar of emotions, they can cancel out any feelings of joy. It would be inappropriate to be happy and jubilant with the death of a child or family member. Having the knowledge of hope for a brighter tomorrow helps me to flow through difficult emotions, I've learned to literally feel the emotion but not allow myself to invest or linger in the immediate sorrow for more than necessary. Losing a child, divorcing, being diagnosed with a terminal disease, having a child with a special need these are just a few examples of life altering situations and will surely take time to process and learn from. My hope is that the people who are experiencing these hardships will take the time they need to mourn, get mad, be sad, feel fear, anxiety and depression then pick themselves up, don't look back and never ever give up on the living.