There I was thinking about a topic for this week's blog post when it fell like manna from heaven. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it firmly places me back on my social-pragmatic soapbox. This time the focus of my ire is the people we come in contact with as we go about our day to day business: the salesperson, cashier, receptionist or food server.
Let me explain. I had to have a blood test today. As I registered at the hospital the receptionist wrote my name, birthdate, and email address on an index card rather than directly on a form or the computer. I asked her where she would be filing the card (a rolodex perhaps?) and she indicated she would be referring to it later. Call me kooky, but I had a moment of concern that my info was floating around her desk and asked her to please shred it when finished. Her response? "Uh yeah, it's called HIPAA," (insert snarky tone here). I simply smiled and thanked her for her diligence. Earlier I had a dental appointment. The dentist suggested I have a wisdom tooth pulled. I asked how long a process a tooth pulling is, so I could plan accordingly with work. In other words, do I need to take a half day off? A full day? Her response? Well the oral surgeon doesn't work on Saturday (insert tone of incredulity here)!
Okay, what is my point? HOW ABOUT SOME CIVILITY, PEOPLE! I am finding that so many of the people I come in contact with are poised to jump down their customers' throats. This isn't a new phenomenon. Many years ago when I was a young and sassy SLP, I went to the Grand Union. The cashier must have been very bored, because when he told me the amount of my purchase he looked off into the distance so all I saw was the back of his surfer blond head. That's right, he didn't establish eye contact with an SLP. Now what follows is probably completely inappropriate, but it does make for a good story. I malingered. I admit it, I feigned a hearing loss and told that young man I couldn't hear him. He turned the register toward me and said (and I kid you not), "What are you blind, too?" to which I replied, "I read lips." Being astute to the body language associated with mortification, I watched with pleasure, him shrinking into himself.
I am not particularly proud of my little social experiment. It was during a period where I engaged in general grandstanding, marches on Washington, and overall rebellion and rabble rousing. Ah, youth! However, even then I realized the days of customer service, satisfaction, and civility were disappearing. Treating customers with decency is even less prevalent today. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports survey, 65% of respondents were "tremendously annoyed" by rude salespeople and 64% reported leaving a store in the previous 12 months due to poor service. I have always felt that businesses could increase their customer satisfaction and profits by simply being kind, using a tone of voice that is respectful and training employees to not be so dang defensive. Remember Miracle on 34th Street? Isn't that how Kris Kringle helped Mr. Macy increase business? Now, there is a niche for an enterprising SLP, social-pragmatic training in the work place. What do you think? Anyone want to partner with me? Social Skills-R-Us here we come!!