“You ought to be thrilled that you got a job in the mail room. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”
Even if it’s just sorting mail or folding clothes at your local J-Crew, the littlest things can teach you the biggest things.
As the year winds down, It has been crickets around here. A major part of the reason is because balancing my part-time job as a seasonal retail associate along with my personal life and this blog has been a challenge. But this job has been an invaluable learning experience, even after just a few weeks. And that experience alone has made me realize the truth in Randy Pausch’s book when he said the following:
“No job is beneath you.”
Not that I didn’t believe him when I read that particular clause, but I have always found first-hand experience to be the best teacher. And while I don’t see myself working in retail forever, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything valuable to be learned from the experience.
Feeling Bad About Your Mistakes (And Apologizing Repeatedly) Doesn’t Help Others
This might be a “no, duh” sort of thing for some of us, but for me, it’s something that I’ve really had to learn.
Growing up going back and forth to Tokyo, I was surrounded by people who constantly apologized for everything, whether it was making a mistake while conducting a transaction with a customer in a bank or accidentally bumping into someone at the train station as they rushed to get to where they needed to be.
This is not to say that you should not apologize for your mistakes, but your energy would be better spent learning what you did wrong, how to correct it, and putting effort toward avoiding that mistake in the future.
Feeling bad about something that’s already happened doesn’t allow you to go back in time and change the circumstances or the mistake itself. Taking the experience and applying it so that you can avoid mistakes in the future shows people that you are flexible, and that you pay attention to detail. And you’ll save your employer and co-workers plenty of headaches.
Sometimes You Just Have to Say No (Or Ask People To Wait)
I once read a quote somewhere that said, “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.”
I was raised to be a people pleaser. I learned to fear authority figures, especially those who raised their voices at me. I thought that the easiest way to be of service to people was to never say no when they asked me for things, especially when you’re providing a service or product to a customer. I did things not because I genuinely wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid getting into trouble. And because I wanted to please people so badly, they were able to manipulate me and push me around.
Looking back on my life, this pattern has been prevalent. I am the kind of person who wants to jump into something the minute you ask for it. But I realize that by continuing that pattern, I’m not setting boundaries for myself. Not only that, but I’m not providing good customer service to others.
Asking people to wait is never a bad thing. Sometimes you need to do it. Yes, providing prompt (and quality) customer service is important. But sometimes you need to ask people to wait. You’ll be able to answer questions for thoroughly and avoid feeling like a dog being pulled on a leash.
When you feel like a dog being pulled on a leash, you can’t do your job very well. And when you can’t do your job very well…we all know how that goes. You were hired for a reason. And as an employee, you are expected to do the job (no matter how menial the task is) to the best of your ability, and to the company’s standards.
And if that means asking customers to wait instead of answering their questions while you’re assisting someone else, than so be it.
Some People Will Be Rude, No Matter What You Do (But The Things They Say Have Nothing To Do With You)
I’ve said it before, but some people could just be straight up rude. No matter how courteous you are, it doesn’t mean that that courtesy will be reciprocated. And yes, for a sensitive person (like yours truly), it can take a while to shake off.
You have no control over how others treat you. What you do have control over is your reaction. So the next time someone snaps at you, swallow that snippy retort. Yes, easier said than done, coming from a self-proclaimed no-filter kind of girl. But there is a big difference. You are not with your BFFs having a girls night; you are in a professional working environment. And there are rules of etiquette that need to be followed.
Take Your Time
In today’s day and age when we get irritated if the Internet loads in 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds, we’ve become used to multitasking, trying to do everything at once.
But here’s the thing: rushing allows you to make mistakes. And mistakes often create more work for those around you. Taking your time allows you to ensure that you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability. And when you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability, customers can see that.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait for something of quality rather than have someone rush through something and have a not-so-stellar final product.
Randy Pausch may never have gotten to play in the NFL, but football taught him valuable life lessons; you may not earn a Grammy or an Olympic medal, but that doesn’t mean that your experience (whether it be a seasonal job, internship, or quest to earn an Academy Award) counts for nothing. There are lessons to be learned wherever you are in life; you just have to be open to them.