Who Provides Customer Service ?

Who provides customer service?

Flickr Credit to: verticalpharmacy

My definition of customer service: if you’re interacting with other humans in any significant way, you’re providing customer service. If the way you treat your customers or guests influences their decision to come back or not, you’re providing customer service.
Even though I have experience in retail, I’m not one to say that the customer is always right, or without fault. BUT I’m well aware of the fact that many employees can be (and are) very rude, disrespectful or disinterested in your problems – no matter how sincere you may be. Recently I’ve had at least two experiences where the employees felt that because it wasn’t in their job description, providing compassionate and patient customer service wasn’t necessary. A woman told me it wasn’t in her job description to do a [simple] task, and another man criticized me over the phone while his manager co-signed his statements, saying that because they’re not customer service, the standards are different.

Perhaps they long to be mere flies on the wall, who just answer the phone or are only polite to people who don’t give them a hard time. Or more specifically, if your job security isn’t depended on how nice you are to someone, you’re more likely to take liberties with patrons. Additionally, if the management is more lax about your behavior toward guests, then you’re more likely to have an attitude problem. Or finally, you have people who really don’t care and feel justified in how they treat you. Or a combination of all three.

Part of the reason this really grinds my gears is because at its core, customer service is essentially an act of service; providing for another in a way that they can’t provide for themselves. In this way, we’re of service to one another via blogging, books, films, Twitter/Facebook, in the streets, working in businesses both big and small. The list goes on.

Did you hold the door open for someone today? Did you pay a friend a compliment or give them a hug? Were you polite and patient to the hurried barista as the line led out the door? Did you think twice before snapping at someone who irritated you today?

To be of service is to acknowledge another person.  For example: I often take the bus to get where I need to go, and will often say, “Thank you” to the bus driver on the way out. This created a chain of events in which everyone said “thank you”. He got us to where we needed to be safely and efficiently. To empower someone is to acknowledge them. To acknowledge someone is to empower them. 

When you criticize someone unnecessarily, or feel the need to put them down, or be cruel to another person – you’re dis-empowering them.

Customer service, at its core, is about giving another person the tools they need to go about the world. Sometimes that means being nice to someone, sometimes it means listening. At its core, it’s about helping people realize that there’s good in the world, that people care, and that they’re not alone.

This is why good customer service is so important!




Vulnerability and Social Media

How do you define “friend”?

I think about this a lot, especially as a person who easily (and quickly) becomes attached to people I like. It can be heart-breaking to think of someone as a friend, and, later, for them to completely disregard your relationship. As if it never mattered in the first place. This situation seems to happen rather frequently in “real life”, but what in the online world – where the boundary between friend, stranger and acquaintance never seems to be clear, or it’s constantly being re-draw, recreated and redefined.

I’ve been faced with rejection in both my real and online life. It can be disheartening for a minor misunderstanding, or a difference in opinion to make a relationship explode. But I suppose that brings to mind: what is a friend and how do you know when you have one? This is almost exclusively related to social media. In our waking life, it’s easier to see who our friends are; the people who call us or write us. The people who we feel we can talk to about anything. The people who we resonate with the most. But online? Does spending months chatting constitute friendship? Does taking the time to e-mail each other mean you’re BFFs? Do private DMs mean anything at all, or is it just meaningless chatter? At what point do we know when we’ve reached a solid friendship? But also, when have we realized that our friendship is worth fighting for?

You never really know what a friendship can or is able to tolerate until there’s a tremor. Casual relationships, understandably, tend to explode the quickest since there’s no foundation or support to keep the friendship alive. There’s a strong undercurrent of; “I don’t know you, therefore I’m not morally obligated to you or our relationship.” People are more inclined to walk away from something they haven’t invested themselves in, including other people. But the concept of rejection is also very much about power.

It’s similar to the idea presented in “Two Can Play That Game” where Vivica A. Fox says that whomever breaks up with the other person first, wins. I do believe that there’s a strong sense of satisfaction and self-importance at having ended a friendship – regardless of its quality – versus being the person dealing with the rejection. A lot of the time, I think, the people who were rejected long for a sense of closure because everything happened so abruptly. The quickness of it is jarring because a person is cutting you off for no other reason than because they just don’t know you. 

For instance, a girl I knew in college unfriended me on Facebook. It drove me nuts; it still bothers me because she’s friends with people I know. But underneath all my insanity, I get it. I can’t compete with girls she saw every day in her dorms, the fact that I never called her or spoke with her, or the close relationship she had with a girl who become the Godmother to her kids. (Yeah, can’t compete with THAT) So technically, we were never friends, and it made sense for her to unfriend me. Yet at the same time…

This isn’t to suggest that every online relationship is destined to fail – I’ve made some amazing friends online who I hope to meet up with in real life very soon! But an online relationship can, and does, have the same emotional responses as one that’s initiated in real life.

What about you? What are some relationship explosions or mishaps you’ve had since being online?

Why I Don’t Support Polyamory

While watching The Office, I found myself disgusted by the overt displays of jealousy and insecurity between the Karen, Jim and Pam triangle. At times Karen was overtly rude and tried to police both Jim and Pam’s feelings in order to create her own comfort level. She tried (and failed) to control the situation. This also happened when Roy attempted to attack Jim (out of a sense of possession) and was often overtly aggressive toward Jim because of his attraction to Pam.

Some people might suggest that this is a pretty typical – albeit unhealthy – response to perceived infidelity. Neither

Flickr credit to: Igsinden

characters physically cheated on their partners and Pam insisted on staying with Roy despite their stark incompatibilities.

Granted, The Office is a fictitious example, but I would say that these relationships aren’t too far removed from the reality that they’re based on. According to this article published at Madame Noire, “Is Monogamy Really Possible?”, it suggests that because over 50% of both men and women admit to cheating; does that mean monogamy isn’t a viable option? Should more people begin to explore polyamory to curb cheating?

This implies that cheating is primarily sexual, not emotional or mental, which plays down the severity of a cheating spouse. For me, cheating is a sign of great personal weakness. It means you know so little about yourself that you are unable (or unwilling) to address issues of unhappiness. In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden cheated on his wife for two years with Dagny for very similar reasons. He was attracted to Dagny, but he didn’t completely understand why. He was no longer attracted to his wife, but he didn’t completely understand why.

He divorced his wife when he realized what it was about their marriage (and her) that he had grown to dislike.

The very act of cheating (or wanting to cheat) is about escaping reality, not wanting to admit what’s wrong. I firmly believe that if more people had deeper self-introspective skills, cheating would be less of an occurrence. You would know immediately when and why a relationship ceased to be valuable to you, and you could come up with solutions. But by cheating, you’re admitting to yourself and the world that you’re too afraid of confronting any inner, personal truths.

Cheating is a personal choice, not en evolutionary one. 

Some might herald polyamory as preferable because the atmosphere creates one of open communication – which monogamous couples notoriously lack. But I sincerely believe that the perceived emotional perks of polyamory are achievable in monogamous relationships. Honesty, trust, communication – there is a reason why some people have been happily married for decades. 

So, what happens when you’re faced with a healthy, and fully functioning relationship? Do you pursue this with just one person or multiple people?

And there – we have the element of choice.

Here are some other blog posts that discuss this:

1. Eat the Damn Cake – “Fidelity – how big of a deal should it be?”


2. The Lion’s Historian – “a letter to the monogamous masses”

3. Arielle Loren – “Double gender standards: polyamory vs polygamy”

What about you? What you do believe in terms of polyamory, cheating, monogamy?




Married to Yourself

Flickr credit to: Ghost Kid

Do you like being single?

What if you were single forever?

Having graduated from an all woman’s college, I have met many women who were hungry for a boyfriend. One day when walking back to the dorm after dinner, a girl asked me how you get a boyfriend. I offered online dating, but honestly I had no idea.

During my studies in Paris, most of the girls in my program wanted to find a hot French boyfriend. It came up frequently in conversation. How/where do I find a French guy?

As someone who doesn’t know much about dating, flirting or how to otherwise find oneself in a relationship  – I have to say that the prospect of me being “single” forever (or a really long time) is highly probable.

But my non-existent dating history has proven to be advantageous in its own way – I can’t miss what I’ve never had. I’m not used to compromising what I want. I’m not used to having someone to rely on. I’m not used to experiencing happiness and acceptance from another person. 

For a lot of women (who probably have self-esteem issues), dating is the ultimate gateway to adoration and approval. It shows that you are worthy of being loved. And on the rare occasions that someone has had a crush on me, it has definitely put a skip into my step, knowing that someone thinks I’m cute. But people liking me isn’t necessarily a confidence booster.

I’m not very many people’s “type”. Which is fine. And my focus tends to be on ME, ME, ME! As it should be. Through personal and spiritual development, my hope is to cultivate a more sustainable relationship with myself. Even if that means being single for extended periods of time.

So my goal is to get rid of the concept : “singleness”. Why? Because I don’t want to identify as a woman who is in transition, waiting to be in a relationship – especially in a culture where being married/with someone is seen as the key to happiness. Admittedly, I have my own thought processes to check. Whenever I check out a blog, one of the first things I want to know is if the blogger in question is seeing anyone. Why this information is relevant I don’t know, but I feel compelled to know. In fact, not knowing tends to drive me crazy.

Part of it might be that I love learning about the intimate details of people’s lives. Or it might be that I’m obsessed with dating and relationships.

But I don’t want to be. Which is why my hope is to have a great relationship with myself. I’m a firm believer that everything you do, have and experience is meant to enhance your life, not to make you dependent. I don’t want single to mean “waiting for a romantic interest”, I want it to mean “empowerment and self-sufficiency”. My hope is to be happy with my life, even if I don’t have another person to experience it with because it is MY life and no one else can live it.

So I wish instead of single, people could just say, “In a loving, empowering relationship with myself.” And if anyone asks if you’re seeing someone, you say, “Yeah. Myself! And it’s been going great! Been together 23 years!”


What about you? What are some of your feelings when people ask you about your relationship status?





Ugly Duckling Syndrome

Flickr credit to: -MAKI-

Yesterday I saw Shallow Hal  – a film I’d already seen many times. The entire premise of the film impressed me, and watching it again (with my new and improved mentality about beauty privilege), I thought I was going to start crying.

Hal is an average looking dude who likes above average looking women, which is his only criteria for approaching a girl. So when his perception is altered by Tony Robbins via hypnotherapy, he starts to notice the inner beauty of all the women he meets.

So, what I wanted to touch on precisely is what the film calls, “The Ugly Duckling Syndrome”. This is when a girl who grew up ugly, ends up developing a personality out of necessity. The character talks about how some girls are ugly for so long, when they do become pretty, they don’t even realize it. This is considered a rare but desirable find; an attractive girl with a personality who doesn’t know/believe herself to be good-looking.

All the ugly women are virtuous: volunteering with burn victim children, helping their sick grandmother, working at a non-profit for blind children. Overall, these women are funny, gracious and selfless. They’re just really, really ugly. So, despite how wonderful they are as people, men don’t seem interested in them.

In the film, Gwyneth Paltrow tells Jack Black that she knows what she looks like, and doesn’t appreciate it when he calls her beautiful. I know the feeling of knowing what you look like, and people not really understanding that. Of people trying to convince you of a reality you don’t believe in. Even though in the ugly duckling fairy tale, he eventually becomes a beautiful swan.

However, it’s worse when you see what it’s like to be born a swan, when you’re just a duck.

When I was in high school, participating in some sort of production backstage, a girl said to my friend, “You’re so pretty.” And at some later date told her that she earned her beauty, that she deserved it.

I remember when I much younger, and me and my best friend at the time had a crush on the same person. Our shared love interest knew, but ended up choosing her over me. I was devastated. Then one afternoon, he had written her a (love) letter, suggesting that maybe I was jealous of them. Of course I was! But my friend – blonde-haired and blue eyed – was significantly more attractive than me. I knew, even then, that I didn’t really stand a chance. 

So as I sat there, tearing up at the not-so-great film Shallow Hal, I wondered if I would ever stop being a duckling, and become a swan myself. I try desperately to find other ducklings, but it seems few people like to admit to not being attractive. In a culture where “everyone is beautiful”, people are afraid of what it means to be a duckling, a sort of social pariah. Everyone wants to embrace their flaws, fall in love with themselves. I mean… that’s all well and good but…

Am I the only person willing to admit to being an ugly duckling?

How come the first step to self-acceptance isn’t admitting that we’re not all swans?



Who Do You Like? And Why?

Since my early teen years, I have felt a passionate connection to fictional characters. Reality disappointed me, leaving me frustrated with my life and a lack of people to admire or feel kindred spirits with. So for a long time I looked toward fiction (in all its forms) to give me someone who I could understand, who I felt was going through the same things I was. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much success with this and it wasn’t until my Senior year of high school that I discovered a character who would change me forever. Howard Roark, the famed character of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I admired Roark for his independence, strong sense of life and an unwavering conviction to what he believed in. He embodied a strength few other fictional characters possessed and I loved him.

          Then, during my Junior year in college, while I was in Paris I saw The Watchmen. When I had first seen the trailers, I had felt strongly connected to Rorschach, an equally uncompromising character similar to Roark. Rorschach, so strong in his beliefs, died because he refused to live a lie. Tingles ran through my body as I watched this man never give up despite the fact that he stood alone in his quest for justice, while as others condemned him. I loved him, because he knew himself so well that he couldn’t be anyone else.         

                What has my attraction to this characters taught me? Not much, per se, but it’s made me aware of what I like in a person, and I try to achieve that for myself because I personally believe, quite ardently, that we can choose the type of people we’re attracted to. Attraction isn’t some haphazard event that seems to blindside us – we bring into our lives the very people who reflect our sense of self. If I find myself to be unworthy, I’m probably more likely to attract someone who is going to re-enforce that mindset. Like attracting like is an insanely popular idea, and I am curious if other people have similar experiences.

            Do you find yourself attracted to people who reflect yourself? Your ideas, opinions, and sense of life? Sometimes these things will change, and eventually your relationships will fall apart because of it. But I am deeply curious; what sort of person are you most attracted to? Not just physical qualities (both Roark and Rorschach have red hair – which I LOVE) but the internal qualities that make them who they are. Have you met this person? Or are you waiting (so to speak) for them to arrive? Or do you have no idea what this person would be like?