It’s no great secret that working in a customer service job is frustrating: you encounter people from all age groups, income levels, and walks of life. Their opinions may not agree with yours, and it might occasionally be so far off what you’re used to that their sanity (or your own!) is in question.
At some point, though, you’ll realize that the experience of working with the public has taught you something important and valuable, that you can only learn through experience. The value of kindness.
1. Everyone has value.
Working with the public forces you to talk to and associate with every client who comes in, and treat all of them with the same amount of respect and decency. Slowly, the barriers within break down, and you start to understand them as different and valuable.
2. It’s okay to set boundaries.
They will be respected. If you’ve been afraid to set boundaries in your relationships, working in a customer service role will set you free and teach you the value of the word “no”. Some clients will want to violate your personal boundaries or violate the company policy: saying no to them gives you the power to do the same in your own life, when necessary.
3. Helping others makes you feel like the biggest person in the room.
No matter the size of your bank account, helping someone in a meaningful way (distracting a child while a new mom pays at the till, helping an elderly client load products into his car) makes you feel better than anything in the world.
4. Creation is more important than destruction.
Angry clients can wear you down, but it only takes one warm and smiling face to bring you back up again. You learn to appreciate the person in line behind the irate customer, the one who looks you in the eye and quietly says “Hey. It’s okay.” You learn to be that person for your friends and family. The one who quietly holds their hand through the darkest storm and leads them forward.
5. Pain is universal.
You learn that people who seem incredibly put together are as stitched-together as the rest of us: sometimes moreso. Types of people you have always hated become…just people, as worthy of your kindness as anyone else.
6. Humor saves lives.
A sense of humor is important, especially if your job ends up involving one of the worst tasks: a clogged toilet, for example, or toddler vomit. One of your co-workers cracks an ABC joke and everyone laughs. Suddenly the day seems shorter and less impossible…maybe even fun!
7. Therapy doesn’t just happen in an office.
People will talk to you: about their lives, their problems, good days and bad. Sometimes, strong emotion can hit when you least expect it. Customer service jobs teach you to read the signals. When someone needs to talk, you just know.
8. Every word you say matters.
There’s nothing like a company review to help with understanding how your words are interpreted by others. You will learn to say what you mean and more importantly, to be understood.
9. It’s the little things that get you through the day.
Something as simple as a smile or a familiar face in line can make your day. It’s an important reminder to maintain a connection with friends, visit family, and treat your neighbors to a sunny smile.
10. Looks don’t define your ability to be kind.
Well-dressed, attractive people can be shoplifters. A homeless person might come in to beg for change and hold the door for someone weighed down with bags on the way out. The most valuable lesson you learn working in customer service is how to judge people on their actions, not their looks.