Thursday, 17 November 2011

Stay calm and carry on

"The tree that does not bend with the wind will be broken by the wind" - Mandarin Chinese proverb.

If you take this ancient proverb literally it is not strictly true. Whilst crossing the US I witnessed several tress, some hundreds of years old, blown over by storms. Some had demolished houses.

Of course we are meant to apply this proverb to the way we react and deal with situations.

I found myself in a local DIY superstore today, ordering a new kitchen that I will fit for a friend of mine next week. A very helpful assistant was showing me around the many options of taps but as she did so my view was blocked by another customer. So I asked politely if I could move past in order to see better. This resulted in a filthy look, no answer and not allowing me past. I decided not to pursue it further and resorted to going up on my tip toes and leaning forward to see better. I then inadvertently brushed against the woman which resulted in some fairly rude comments directed at me, accusing me of pushing her around. Of course I defended myself but this fell on deaf ears. Then, as tempers were rising, I remembered how situations like this would be dealt with in America. So I interrupted her rants and with enthusiastic politeness said: "in the interests of all of us enjoying our day, I apologise for brushing against you. Have a nice day", and smiled. For once she was speechless. I left relaxed, happy in the knowledge, like the mighty tree, I had bent to the furious hurricane of abuse.

However, this does not always work. I have been waiting for a number of weeks for a delivery from Apple Inc of a new computer to upgrade my edit system in order to start work on the film of the US cycle. It arrived today, and I excitedly unpacked it. Unveiled from all it's packaging, I plugged it in and switched it on.


After an hour of help from the technical support team it transpired the computer was faulty. At first I was simply offered a replacement, but I felt this didn't go far enough, especially as I would now have to wait another two weeks. I made my point as strongly, but still with politeness, as I could, and used the magic phrase, that I find always seems to bring a positive result: "What can you do to help me?"

The end result was a free upgrade to the computer, plus a discount and a few other goodies, all of which added up to the equivalent of over 20% off. Of course Apple is an American company, and service and reputation are everything to these companies, so this didn't come as a huge surprise.

I felt a reasonable compromise had been achieved and both parties left happy and both would "have a nice day".

So sometimes it pays to blow like the wind, but maybe making like a breeze rather than a storm, and staying calm, yields a better result for all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good calls, Graham. Just in time to help me to muster my ammunition as I go to do battle with Scottish Power!