How to be an agent of change | Cheryl Kees Clendenon

Cheryl Kees Clendenon

It’s the month of being grateful, thankful and present.

We all know the world is morphing in many ways. The past few years have brought turbulent change. It is negatively affecting our collective mental well-being and seems to be leading to bad behavior and lack of accountability for one’s actions. Many of us are forced to deal with difficult clients and customers regularly.

Compassionate and considerate communication sometimes takes a back seat when addressing valid concerns. People have grown quick to vent frustration without taking a moment to listen or empathize. This breakdown in communication is beginning to look like a pandemic of a different sort.

A belief in entitled bad behavior fosters unrealistic expectations and demanding attitudes. As professionals, we need to understand why clients or customers may act this way and how to manage these situations.

Feeling out of control

The relentless stream of information from the news and social media has led to a state of constant exhaustion, now referred to as “hyperfatigue.” Although the term might seem like it’s borrowed from a ‘90’s buzzword collection, it does encapsulate a shared experience.

I see people lashing out at others in an attempt to control something in their lives. This happens with clients, too, and to a lesser extent, customers in our shops. When things are spinning fast, people instinctively hold on tight and try to control the spin.

Many people are simply too drained to try to break this cycle, leading to a collective crankiness at the mere whiff of a problem. This is not good for those of us who deal with problems every single day in our work!

It is difficult to handle clients who are fussy at best, and downright badgering at worst, but you must tell them straight-up how unproductive and belittling that is to you and your team.

I am sorry Mrs. Yumptyfrump, I respect your position, but I cannot continue this conversation until we can make it more productive. I truly want to address your concerns, but you are making it impossible to do so. When we can discuss this without condescension, then I am here for you just like I have been since the beginning.”

The Power of Kindness

In a society that appears to have shelved accountability, small acts of kindness can have a big impact. Going out of your way for others, expressing appreciation or surprising someone with a gesture of random kindness can make a mighty difference in someone’s day.

Hokey? Maybe. But since crawling back into bed is not really an option when you own a business, try to counteract the bad by spreading some good. The simple act of opening the door for someone else makes them feel seen, engaging with a store clerk makes them feel heard, and surprising someone with a random tiny gift can make them feel loved.

Taking the initiative to express positivity, offer assistance or simply show gratitude can transform your day-to-day interactions. Be genuine and authentic in your connections with others, even during all your busyness. Mindfulness has never been more important.

Take care of yourself, of course, but don’t discount the little ways that you can change someone else’s day. The beautiful thing is what it does for YOU. And if all of us — or heck, even .05 percent of us — tried this, maybe some anxiety and aggravation would gradually ease.

Intentional Choice

I am not a woo-woo person, and I must work on this every single day myself. I get hung up on what is fair and what is not (and it does not mean I let anyone take advantage of me), but I intentionally refocus and project simple gratitude toward others when I feel the most aggravation. And it helps bring me back to an even keel.

I think that when you look for something positive to say to somebody — whether you are doing it because you just want to be a good person or are fighting your own stress points — you are taking a specific ACTION to do something positive and good. And in the mere act of searching for the good to celebrate and smiling at someone else, you are changing the dynamic of how you experience your day. The secret to success lies in the intentionality of taking action.

So, let’s make a pact to navigate this turbulent world with compassionate professionalism. Each of us can make a difference by extending a hand, seeking authentic connections and actively spreading positivity in some way. In doing so, we not only brighten the lives of those we encounter but also cultivate our own sense of fulfillment and well-being. We can be the agents of change, one intentional act at a time.

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