If there is one thing you learn while working in customer service, it’s how to bite your tongue.
For some, this is easy, for others, not so much.
First things first- the customer always wins. Fighting them, even when you know they’re wrong is about as smart as back talking your mother when she just used your middle name. I quickly learned to say things like this:
“You decided not to eat those two sandwiches? It’s our pleasure to give you a refund.”
“You’re right; I should have known you didn’t want pickles on that. Only people who hate life like pickles.”
“You had to be parked on your order of 30 sandwiches? Yes, let me go grab you a free coupon and a pony for your patience.”
Okay, so maybe I was a little less sarcastic but you get the idea.
Point blank- saying what you really want usually isn’t in your best interest, kind of like that tanning lotion that made you look more like a Cheeto than a person. I’m just saying.
Admitting to being wrong is always hard, especially when you know you’re not, and super especially when they know you’re not. But unfortunately, it’s part of the job description.
Luckily, I can’t say I ever really struggled with back talking customers. The urge was definitely there, but the desire to keep my job was just a little bit stronger.
Now, allow me to think selfishly for a second. I don’t see how talking back would benefit me. Maybe I would feel good for the small amount of time it would take to spit out my come-backs; maybe I would feel justified as I saw the look on the face of the person that brought me to tears the week before. Or maybe I’d feel like a complete jerk.
I have a sneaking suspicion that as soon as the words left my lips I would want to take them back. I say that, because thus far that always seems to be the case.
In high school I had a huge fight with my best friend. She hurt me pretty deeply and I just couldn’t let it go, even after she apologized.
Half of our senior year became this game of who could inflict the biggest wound. We would say spiteful things with the pure intention of excluding, hurting, or getting a reaction out of the other. It was awful, and while neither of us dared to tell the other—we were miserable.
I think somehow we get it in our heads that if we hurt the person that hurt us we’ll magically stop hurting, but in all my experience it’s never worked that way.
We don’t give words enough credit in this generation. I’ve seen words cut down and sink hearts, seen words like love and hate be thrown around like a beach ball, and seen friends take their lives because they were more afraid of words, than death.
Words are powerful, and if we don’t understand that then we have little hope for a happy future. If we don’t learn how to hold back spiteful words now, then we’re going to be responsible for a lot of heartache.
I think we have to look at our motivation to speaking. Are we speaking out of anger? Or love? Out of jealousy? Or true concern? What are we expecting our words to do, and how does that realistically fit with the known characteristics of the person you’re speaking too?
Now, the next thing I’m going to say is going to sound a little heretical but just hear me out.
Honesty is not the best policy.
I didn’t realize this until this summer when I had a friend explain to me why it was okay to speak cruelly to his ex. Everything he said was true, therefore he could say it. She was a whore, a drunk, needy and self-centered, and the bible told him not to hang out with sinners like her.
Maybe those things were true but were they spoken out of love? And was it at all necessary? He let anger get the best of him and maim a sister in Christ—granted a straying sister, but a sister nonetheless.
When I think about this I’m reminded of the adulterous woman and Jesus. Of all the people ever to live He would have had to right to call her what she was: a sinner, disgraceful, deserving of death.
That’s not what He did though, was it?
He said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Jesus opted for love. And I think that’s what He wants us to do too.
Sometimes I get really upset about things. Someone hurts me and all I want to do is throw my angry little stones at them; I find myself biting back words instead because I know I’m guilty.
I have as much right to hurl my deadly words as the people in the crowd had to stone the woman.
Olivia Johnson says
Wow, thank you Kelsey! This really made me think about what I say about other people.
Kelsey you are an incredibly talented writer with great words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your columns and perspectives.
Sarah Faith says
Words used as labels should often be evaluated.