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Systematically responding

I just finished listening to episode one of Bett Terpstra’s new podcast over on 5by5, Systematic. Brett and Mike Schramm talk about how to accept a complement and ask whether mechanical responses can affect the other person.

I work in a local Post Office where I have staff to run the shop and I spend as much of my time as I can avoiding interaction with customers and fixing computers as a sideline. I dislike talking to customers and find a lot of the interaction I overhear to be completely fake and pointless. But first I should explain a little of myself to my readers, lest they go jumping to conclusions about my surliness. I’m a recovering alcoholic and am mildly autistic. I think that that goes some way to explaining my personality.

So here’s my anecdote. I had one member of staff who was amazing with the customers. She would ask how they were, talk about the weather, ask about their dog, the whole thing. If someone typed the wrong pin into the keypad when making a withdrawal, she would laugh and come out with some quip like ‘oh, a wee slip of the finger. It’s easy done!’. I, on the other hand, generally sigh and offer an apologetic look to the people behind them in the queue.

As an experiment, I’ve tried being like that employee. Talking about the weather comes hard to me, but I put on a smile and say something about how the rain keeps falling and the wind doth blow and, here’s the kicker: not only does it make the customer respond, it makes ME feel better. I know. Crazy, right?

In AA, they have the phrase ‘fake it to make it’. In other words, pretend that everything is all right, and you might just end up being all right.

Although I know that faking it can make my day better, I still tend not to bother trying. But I’ve had customers make me feel better by being like my former employee.

So there you go. Faking it works, but for computer nerds, bookworms alkies, that can be very, very difficult. Go ahead and try it though. Go on. I dare you!