Reluctant Apologies At the Till
--by Lilynia, posted Dec 27, 2007
It was quite a busy day.
Around lunchtime a couple of ladies reached the till and I rang through their items and their orders and once I had completed that they said they wished to pay separately. Now, I wasn't exactly new on the till, but I was still unsure of how I would go about this. So I canceled half the order so I could do each transaction separately. However it turned out (by a very huffy response from these two ladies) that I'd divided it up wrong, but by then the till thought that the transaction was complete, and so then my mind went into meltdown and I had no idea how to sort it all out.
The two ladies quite clearly knew that I was effectively screwing up their order, possibly helped by the fact that I was staring at the screen blankly. Instead of trying to be patient, though, they made me feel even worse by continuing to be huffy, staring at me aggressively as though that would get things sorted, and even at one point one of them blurted out 'Oh this is ridiculous!'
Eventually, after almost experiencing a complete mental break-down and a lot of help from one of my co-workers, the order was sorted out and the women stomped off to their table. I apologized to the next customer for their having to wait but they were very understanding and even sympathetic. However I still felt highly flustered and on the verge of tears and realized I wouldn't be able to work properly until I got this sorted out.
Now, I understand that my incompetence but I did feel quite angry and embittered towards those ladies for making me feel so awful. Nonetheless, I also knew that I had to swallow my pride and dignity, and even fear at having to confront them again, and go and apologize to them for my incompetence.
So I did.
And I ended feeling sincere, for when I'd said it, they smiled at me like two completely different people from the hostile women I'd faced only moments ago, and they even apologized back to me for getting angry with me, and we each ended up smiling.
The situation had been transformed. Instead of going away feeling embittered for the rest of the day I felt lifted up for having been cordial, and I think they did too.
Even though you may have negative feelings for someone, reaching out to them can make all the difference. You may not even feel sincere at first in your kindness, but in the end, the likelihood is that you will.