There are some irritants of modern life – call centres, canvassers, getting a parking tickets e.t.c. But, before we take it out on the person at the end of the line, we should try and put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. Given different circumstances, it could easily be us.
It is easy to get frustrated when we have a valid complaint but are put on hold for a long time. However, before we speak in anger, we should try and bear in mind a few things.
Anger hurts ourselves. When we get angry, we lose our peace of mind and later we will feel a form of regret. Like a boomerang, anger comes back to haunt us.
Secondly, the person who receives our anger and frustration most likely doesn’t deserve it. They are doing a job; they are the front person for problems elsewhere. If we were in a job dealing with complaints, we would definitely appreciate people who are thoughtful and calm.
From a practical point of view, if we approach someone with a generous disposition, we are much more likely to get a positive outcome in our interests. If we start a conversation with a confrontational and emotional attitude, the other person instinctively becomes defensive and confrontational themselves. It can make the person want to make life difficult for us in return. If someone is nice to you, you try to return the favour, but it works both ways.
Spiritual practice. Spirituality is not just for Sunday morning in church or at our shrine; it is for every moment, including the times we ring call centres or get a fine. In fact, the value of spiritual practice is heightened in those circumstances that are most challenging. To keep a degree of equanimity in the face of provocation or trying circumstances is a powerful force to illumine our underlying nature.
We need the peace of our daily meditation but we also need the effort to try and ‘practise what we preach’ To make our meditation practical, means we need to try and be peaceful even in those circumstances where it is most challenging.
The impact of changing our attitude
When I get a cold-call, I don’t allow myself to get annoyed. I see it is a chance to put spiritual principles into practice. I calmly and in a business-like tone tell the person ‘no thanks, not interested’ and put the phone down. It makes it easier to have a pre-plan to speak in a certain way. When I speak to people in call-centres, I try to think it could be me on the other end, and whatever the difficulties, trying to bring forth a degree of sympathy and empathy. It generally helps get a better outcome than a different approach.
Working in a call centre
This is an interesting video by Garga from Sri Chinmoy Centre, who works in a call centre receiving calls from distressed customers. He explains how meditation can help defuse difficult conversations.