You teach people how to treat you

More on my travels from Montana back to my home in Pennsylvania…

Recently I had to join the crush of people trying to find alternate travel plans because of Hurricane Irene. I knew I would eventually get home, I just wasn’t sure how or when.

So, I began the process. I dialed my return flight airline carrier, and waited, and waited, and waited to speak to a reservation agent. I waited so long, nearly 60 minutes, that I actually could repeat the Continental Airlines promos verbatim and hum its cheesy tune.

Eventually someone came on the line. Her voice was harried and very tired, though she was trying to sound pleasant.

I had a choice: I could express my discontent at waiting in the phone queue for what seemed like an eternity or I could show some compassion to this frazzled airline employee.

Previously in my life, back in my harried days, I would have focused my frustration on her. After all, I was hungry, tired and a bit angry at the disruption of my plans. But then it dawned on my – I wasn’t in control and she wasn’t in control. Mother Nature was.

So, after she greeted me, I asked her how she was coping. I acknowledged her tiredness and the stressful situation she was in, with weary and angry travelers. I told her that I knew she was doing the best she could in a nasty situation, and that I would be patient while she was working on finding a solution to my problem.

And the most amazing thing happened. I felt her relax and smile. Truly, I could feel the tension dissipate. And then she laughed! She was so grateful that someone had recognized her situation and honored her efforts.

So off she went to research what she could do for me while I continued to hold, and hold, and hold. And then she dropped the bombshell. Her airlines hadn’t issued the original ticket, so she couldn’t make the necessary changes.

All thoughts of dinner and sleep evaporated. I was now going to have to repeat this process with another airline! I could feel the inappropriate language seeking release from deep inside of me.

But, wait. What was she telling me? When I finally tuned in, I heard her saying, “Let me talk to my supervisor and see what I can do for you.”

Ultimately she managed to work her magic and I had a new reservation booked on her competitor’s airline!

Now it was my turn to laugh. I thanked her profusely, congratulated her on pulling off the impossible, and promised to send a note of thanks to the airline, mentioning her specifically.

The next day, bright and early, I began my journey home.

Thanks to Wayne Dyer for his quote that inspired this entry.

“You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you.”

Your call to action:

How are people treating you? What lessons have they learned from you? What would you change?



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