A customer told me that I have an attitude problem the other day. I found it amusing. Generally, customers say nasty things because, well, they're angry. You didn't give them what they wanted. Poor customer. You'll just die if you don't get that $7.50 back in cash instead of a merchandise certificate.
After the encounter, I popped around and asked a few associates if they think I have an attitude problem. Mostly, they laughed in my face. My associates love me madly, right down to my propensity for dancing in the aisles and my threatening to stab them with broken hangers. I hear a lot of, "You want me to work Saturday? Are you the one closing? Okay, sure."
Now. I know I can cop an attitude. And I know why people think I do. Because as soon as you start acting like a prat, start getting in my face, raising your voice--it's gone. My happy, perky, freckled face will fall right off. I will look at you over the top of my glasses, and my body language will start screaming at you. But it's okay. I still say, very nicely, "I'm sorry you feel that way. Unfortunately, our policy is (fill in the blank) and I am unable to change that." The words are nice. The tone is fine, if a little flat. But everything else is screaming, "Do you think you can talk to me this way? Do you? I oughta..."
I need to be better at this in my personal life. I generally take the abuse because, what can I do? This isn't a customer, it's my friend, my family, etc. (By the way, if you're saying "ex cetera...you lose. It's et cetera. Say it right.) But I should learn how to man up, get those shoulders up, that fake smile turned on, and say, "No, I can't do that right now. You watch Leila tonight, I have plans," with the sweetest smile ever. I should know how to say, "I've asked you several times not to suggest she go to Islamic school, do not make me tell you again."
I should say, "Stop playing with me. We're not a family. And if you want to be one, you need to do more than have sushi sometimes. You can start with a heart-rending apology and see how far it gets you. I don't know that it will get you anywhere. But at least we'll both know where we stand, for the first time in years."