Don’t be that person

Sometimes, things go wrong. We don’t get what we wanted. There’s a cock up. Sometimes it’s someone’s fault. Sometimes it really isn’t.

So, what can you do about it?

Let me tell you what not to do about it.

Don’t be a dick.

Don’t shout or scream or swear at the person who happens to answer the phone to you. Just don’t. They are a human being. They did not cause your problem. Even if they did, they didn’t do it to spite you.

(If they did, in fact, do it to spite you, you need to take a long hard look at yourself…)

If you have a complaint to make – and we’ve all had to do it at some point – take a deep breath and decide you are going to be pleasant about it. Trust me, you’ll get much further much faster if you do.

My first job, on leaving school, was in the claims department of a major insurer. At various points I’ve worked in insurance, I’ve worked as a teacher, and I’ve worked as a GP receptionist. I’ve been sworn at, been threatened, and had someone so angry they were in tears and blaming me. I was not the problem.

Shit happens.

Some things are simply not covered by your insurance policy, and no amount of shouting and swearing will change that.

Sometimes kids get nits, shouting at the teacher in front of the whole class won’t make them go away.

Yes, doctor’s receptionists have to ask what’s wrong with you – I’m really, truly, sorry if you have something embarrassing, but the question still has to be asked.

I’m not saying you should never make a complaint or argue your case – but stay dignified. Play nice. Be polite. If you do find yourself raising your voice, calm yourself down and apologise – ‘I’m sorry, I know it’s not your fault, I’m just really frustrated with XYZ’.

And decide what you actually want them to do about it. Don’t just rant.

Do you want them to cancel the policy, or replace the broken bit, or give you compensation?

If you tell them what you want, it makes life much much easier. If nothing else, they will know what they need to do to make you go away. Win win.

You also have to have a realistic idea of what’s actually possible. That insurance clerk on the phone can’t make it so that the accident never happened. That teacher can’t eradicate nits. That receptionist can’t sprinkle fairy dust on you and make you better.

If the person at the other end of the line simply can’t do anything about it, ask to speak to the duty manager, if there is one. The person you are talking to will be more than happy to pass you on up the line…

The duty manager might be able to help. They might be able to authorise a refund that the call handler couldn’t. They might be able to give you more of an idea as to why the problem happened in the first place. Or – they might still not be able to help.

And you still shouldn’t be a dick.

Some people go through huge difficulties without loss of dignity. Some people scream and shout at the least little inconvenience.

From experience, I would say that the capacity to be a dick is in inverse proportion to the size of the problem. Don’t be that person.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. oldhowie says:

    I agree whether it’s a doctors receptionist or a school teacher or any legitimate employment we shouldn’t blame the person on the front line, but calmly put our problem to them and see if it can be resolved…… except! if the phone call comes at 6pm when you are making tea and the first words uttered to you are a total lie “ hello my name is Sophie we have heard you have been involved in an accident” now you can let rip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agreely. Bizarrely when I actually did have a car crash, no-one rang me!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. gosforthgirl says:

    Ha…we`ve all been there haven`t we? If you have`nt then you`ve been very fortunate….!

    I personally realized that matters had to change when I knew |I`d been shouting at a robot. I did make the staff laugh at P**pal when I told them that once I swore at the robot, I actually got through….!

    It is definitely self defeating to lose your temper at counter staff or the switchboard or whatever and frankly inelegant.Much better to think laterally and find some other calmer and more effective method.

    With larger organizations, I`ve found they aren`t too keen on people writing on their Facebook page!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used the word ‘undignified’ – but I prefer ‘inelegant’. We should aim to be elegant whatever the provocation!!


  3. anglosvizzera says:

    Gosforthegirl – you are right, I have often got things resolved by making a comment on a FB page, when I had no luck using the usual methods.

    My email account has been locked for a few days now for reasons unbeknown to me – there is nobody to shout at as any telephone contact refers me back to a web page that ‘no longer exists’.

    I tried to use the ‘chat’ facility, but it required me to log into my account which I can’t do because it’s blocked.

    I resorted to looking at a ‘community forum’ and found a link to another ‘chat’ facility which actually does appear to have a human being at the other end, but was not something one could find ordinarily.

    I have also sent a message via the Facebook messenger page although that person is in the US and so only replies in the wee small hours, leaving at least 12 hours between our snatches of conversation.

    I have been told that I have to be patient for 72 hours (even though the original message I had was ‘up to 24 hours’) as they are very busy. So, tomorrow afternoon the 72 hour deadline will have been reached and then I have no idea what I’ll do.

    I have created a new email account with another provider and am currently changing my email address with everyone that I have accounts with or contact with. But not being able to access my previous email account, I don’t have many of the email addresses of friends of mine to hand. I suppose I should’ve written them down in my address book, but who bothers to do that these days? Not every website has a facility to change one’s email address so I have had to email them. Sometimes they helpfully say that they will send an activation email to the old address which is of no use to me being as I won’t be able to access it to reply.

    On the whole, most websites are fairly helpful and luckily I have a password manager so I can check who I need to contact as I don’t use the same password for every account I have for obvious reasons…but I probably have about 30 different passwords to try and keep tabs on.

    Who said technology was going to make our lives easier???


    1. Crumbs!!! One day all this tech will just work, and we won’t know what to do with ourselves!!


  4. Athene says:

    Completely agree. I have worked in the complaints industry, and one thing I learned is that before you begin complaining you should know how you want it resolved. Do you want an apology, do you want a refund, do you want them to sort the problem out; you need to be clear about what you are asking for. And you are much more likely to get a satisfactory resolution if you don’t act like a dick. I have no compunction about shouting at the scam callers, though.


    1. Totally agree – although I find it’s better for the blood pressure to just hang the phone up on them…


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