Do You Take Requests?

May 31, 2017 4 Comments

Do You Take Requests?

First, a small apology for writing a blog that isn't about cool music gear.  But I have a request. A simple one. I hope it's not insulting in its simplicity, but it's something that perhaps I've taken for granted in the past. And I'm at a point where the risk of sounding trite or whiny, however unintentional, is worth the reward. 

I don't ask for this lightly. There will be no jokes today because I don't want to undermine the gravity of the situation. I won't demand it because there should be no prerequisites. I won't beg for it, either, because I refuse to diminish its value. But I will make my case as clearly as possible with the hope that I see more of this one thing. 

Kindness.

       

Roughly four months ago, Five Star Guitars moved into a new location. Moving a business is always difficult; a monumental task that can never be underestimated. At first, I thought it was related to the move. You know, growing pains from a complex transition. 

  • Customers frustrated that an order took longer than they expected. 
  • Employees frustrated when supplies that were easy to find in the old store are now "well hidden" where nobody can find them at the new store.
  • Manufacturers frustrated because they shipped merchandise or invoices to the wrong address.

But as we nestled into this new location, I finally had a moment to take a breath and look around. And I realized something - although the dust had settled, the negativity had not. And it wasn't just us. 

  • At a local New Seasons, they have a message board where patrons can write a note and a New Seasons staff member will write a response. These comments are typically about two-thirds compliments, one-third concerns. Lately, they've been nearly 100% critical.
  • A friend of mine who owns a small business shared a story about her employee sincerely trying to understand and accommodate a customer's request, only to be met with opposition, disdain, and inappropriate profanity.
  • A competitor recently received a 1-star review because a customer was unhappy waiting 8 minutes for service. I imagine that same customer quietly waiting 5 minutes at the bank or Starbucks earlier that same day, or 20 minutes for a rare Pokemon...

What's going on here? Are we in the retail and service industries suddenly worse at our jobs? I don't think so, and here's why:

Every time I've had the opportunity to listen, and one of these frustrated people has had the patience and grace to continue talking with me, I've arrived at the same place with them. Every time. There's something else going on in their life, outside the context of our conversation. An external stress or pressure felt, and it manifests itself in small outbursts.

We're frustrated with life, and taking it out on each other.

So I'm asking for kindness. Not really for me (though honestly, I could use a little, too), but I'm asking on behalf of those around me. More kindness, please. More kindness for my customers. More kindness for my employees. Kindness for family, friends, and strangers. More kindness for you.

I'm not asking for personal sympathy or for anyone to "stop being mean to me." I'm imploring all of you to be nicer to each other. How?

Patience. Time is one of our most valuable commodities. We are destined to a finite amount of it, we place a premium on it, and we don't like when other people waste it. This makes it all the more valuable when you give yours to others. Take your time helping others understand you. Listen. Breathe.

 Empathy. The good kind. In basic terms, empathy is simply an effort to understand other people. It's probably enough just to remember that the person you are talking to is also a human being trying their best to make it through the day.

 Smile more. It works.

Say, "Thank you." Nothing goes farther to earn good will or disarm an awkward situation.

             

I'm not much for bumper sticker quotes, but I read something on social media recently that resonated with me: 

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

I think that's true. Life is hard. It just gets harder. But we're in it together if we choose to be. We're a community and we each have our place. At Five Star Guitars, we help you make music, which in my incredibly biased opinion is the single greatest form of self-expression. 

Go make music. Express yourself. Be kind.

Thank you.

 




4 Responses

Mike Garside
Mike Garside

September 25, 2017

Outstanding summary of what is happening not just in the retail and service industries, but also with our country and the world at large.

Consider the possibilities if we spent just a bit of our time on patience, empathy and understanding. Being kind does not mean being weak or being a push over. Nor does it mean giving in or agreeing. It just means understanding.

Give the gift of a genuine smile. It costs you nothing and can be more valuable than you realize.

Kathy Boyd
Kathy Boyd

June 01, 2017

Your blog alone makes me want to support your store. Well said. Well done.

Los
Los

May 31, 2017

Your blog is:

a) timely
b) needed
c) sad
but,
d) true
Truthfully one of our biggest challenges is staying positive. Let’s ALL endeavor to rally together to find answers.

Peg Simonet
Peg Simonet

May 31, 2017

You are so right. Kindness and respect are key. Good blog Jeremy.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.