Your Holiday Ripple

I was in a shoe store the other day looking for something I could throw on every day on my trek to Caribou. Let’s just say I’ve been looking for a while, so perhaps I’m a bit picky about the shoes I wear. I’m a nice customer – I smile, I say please and thank you, I don’t want anyone putting the shoe on for me, and I always put the shoes back in the box after I try them on. And the craziest thing happened. The person helping me was visibly annoyed that I asked to try on three different pairs.

Three, not a hundred. But even so – her reaction would still make me pause.

Your job is to help people find new shoes – you work in a shoe store for crying out loud. A high-end one, at that. You are in the business of customer service with a very specific outcome – help someone find a shoe that works on their feet, then they purchase. Everyone is happy – including you, who gets a commission for helping find the customer that shoe.

Your job description really can’t get more specific than that; more clear.

And yet, she was pissed to have to help me do just that.

I admit, I’m a little more sensitive to people’s engagement in their job – it’s kinda how I make a living. But then I always think of how it impacts others – the other customers who were trying to do the same thing that I was; her coworkers who have to absorb the negative energy or deal with the complaining; and her friends and family who have to “deal” with it.

Needless to say, I didn’t purchase a single shoe from her. Instead, I went back to the store the next day and someone else helped me – I ended up buying two pairs of shoes. As he was helping me, we joked about a “recent shoe shopping experience” I had.

His response, “She put her application in – the sign on the door said ‘shoe store,’ what did she expect?”

That’s the question – when you take a new role and it’s different from your expectations, how do you handle that?

I’m not talking about the new job you were excited about that turned out not as awesome as you had hoped (more on this scenario in the near future). But what happens when you take a job because you need it and it isn’t awesome?

What this shoe employee with an attitude didn’t realize was that even though for her this job was just a means to an end while she found her dream job, it was a career for her colleague who helped me the next day. While it helped her pay for her holiday gifts, it supported another person’s family. While her outlook is short-term, her actions reflect and impact on the company brand, long-term.

When we are unhappy at work, our impact has a ripple effect. And being unhappy at work, especially this time year, is very common, but the ripple effect is even stronger than it usually is because you are interacting with more people than normal.

So think about your current job – whether it’s in retail, corporate America or your own business. How is your approach to your work impacting others around you? Are you the shoe salesman with the attitude, or are you trying to check yourself and your unhappiness? Are you reframing the situation for others, or are you solely focused on your inner story?

Whatever the case, you need to Stop Hating Your Job and start being happy at work without quitting. Realize that it’s more than you who is impacted, and start making strides to not only making the most of the situation, but shifting your mindset around work and how your ripple will reach others.