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  • Where Have All the Elves Gone?

    I had plenty of “they should get coal in their Christmas stockings,” thoughts when it comes to customer no-service at Macys, Bloomingdales, Mercedes Benz, and the City of Beverly Hills with its pothole on Sunset, as I was attempting to finish my holiday shopping on Sunday. I started out with a reasonable budget of money, time and patience. I was worn down and pretty shocked by day’s end.

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    You are probably having similar experiences, whether you are shopping or just running errands around this time of year.

    What strikes me the hardest is the contrast between the “haves ” versus the “not haves.” Not when it comes to the attitude of billionaires versus the rest of us. The hardest attitude to stomach is from people who have work, especially holiday employment. In large measure, the people who have jobs don’t seem to be happy about working.  How can this be, when there are so many people who are out of work right now?

    Haves and have-nots

    I am an ardent advocate for working people at all levels, in part because I am the daughter of a milkman and a homemaker. I worked three jobs to put myself through UCLA from the age of sixteen. Believe me, I understand the service sector job stress. I worked in admitting on overnights at the UCLA emergency room, sold class notes during the day, and had a stint as an activity coordinator for the local board and care home for mentally ill patients – while I was earning my degree. Sleep was optional.

    I have always worked for a living, and been glad for the work even when it was hard and my feet and smile were tired. I am disappointed in myself because now I am finally in agreement with nearly everyone else on how horribly consumers are treated.

    Succinctly put, as my fiancé said after listening to my Sunday ordeal: “Service is just terrible these days. No one is nice and it’s nearly impossible to get someone to help you if you’re looking for something at a store.” What feels shameful about our attitude is that we both come from backgrounds where there weren’t money trees in the backyard. We are not “Good help is hard to find people.” We are “Get this economy going so everyone can take care of their family and build their careers” people.

    How are you doing on either side of the buying and selling or service relationship? Are you snarling at anyone at work? Are you diffident about whether someone buys something from your company? Do you resent answering some version of the question: “Could you look to see if you have any more in the back?”

    Every moment counts

    You may not be under the best working conditions right now. You may wish you were home by the fire or skiing in the Alps. You might be like me where taking off Christmas Day and New Years Day will suffice as my winter vacation this year – so every free minute counts.

    I know we are not elves, born to be happy toiling all day and night. I do know if we are in business, either for ourselves or someone else – we are lucky to have work.  And, that attitude should show up when you do.

    Consider that every time a sales person is rude to a customer, we all lose one more chance to build companies that will survive, much less thrive. Consider what you do on the job may be sucking the life out of your company, your customers and this economy.

    Even if you are far from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole: try to make magic in this economy – just by pleasantly doing your job. Smiling shouldn’t be reserved for payday.

    Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers.

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