When I ﬁrst learnt to drive, my mother gave me some very important advice: “When you’re the one driving,” she said, “everyone on the road is an idiot except you.”
Angry Customer pic via Shutterstock
To which I, being a 16 year old smart arse, joked “But what if you’re driving in front of me?”
She replied “It doesn’t matter who it is. Everyone on the road is an idiot.”
This advice can be greatly applied to working in retail. Everyone you interact with, Managers and Co-Workers included, will do stupid and bizarre things that will forever change how you view the human race. To keep your sanity it’s important to remember: everyone in retail is an idiot, except you.
Some Managers are great to work for. They’ll be your friend as well as your leader and go out of their way to help you with whatever you need. However others can be infuriating or make you feel worthless like the Manager at my ﬁrst job.
I wasn’t interviewed by this Manager but by the Assistant Manager who I got along with swell. However once I was hired and the actual Manager met me, it became evident I wasn’t exactly her kind of employee. I didn't ﬁt the mould of the other pretty, gossipy Co-Workers and felt very unwanted. Nothing I seemed to do was ever right so after four months, I quit. Luckily, I never had another Manager who made me feel that way again.
Ultimately all Managers can be frustrating, even if you like them. They’ll make decisions you ﬁnd stupid, they’ll side with a Customer instead of you, they can be two faced and spend more time off the shop ﬂoor then on it. These Manager traits are to be expected however they should also balance out with their ability to be reliable, fair and overall friendly towards you.
Inevitably you will have the occasional bad days under your Manager but if those days are consistent and start to truly affect you, it may be time to switch your department or look for another job. The customer service industry is hard enough without working under some jerk that pushes you to the edge. Retail shouldn’t be that unpleasant. So remove the bad element and ﬁnd a place where you are the perfect ﬁt.
Some of the best friends I’ve made have been my retail Co-Workers. I’ve also met some other Co-Workers whose stupidities make me wonder how they even got the job in the ﬁrst place.
In my last retail job, I got on really well with the majority of my Co-Workers. It was a great feeling knowing my shift would be made bearable by fun and reliable people who I enjoyed being around. In saying that, there were days when those same Co-Workers would drive me up the wall. Co-Workers can be frustrating when they aren’t helpful, ofﬂoad their bad Customers to you or just act unprofessional. It can result in moments when you start to ask yourself, “Am I the only one here with an actual brain?”
In these situations it’s important to step back and take a breath.
There have deﬁnitely been times I’ve blown up at a Co-Worker who I felt was doing something down right stupid. If this happens to you, take the high road and apologise to clear things up. Stress and retail go hand in hand but don’t let it affect your work relationships.
Customers, as their own species, are idiots. They don’t know what they want, they don’t care for anyone else’s time or feelings and they deﬁnitely don’t use common sense. Perhaps some of the following scenarios will sound familiar to you:
The stressful sigh you release when Customers walk into your store within ﬁve minutes of closing, bringing with them one of the biggest problems you’ve ever had to deal with.
The rage that builds when you see a whole section of products scattered everywhere only ten minutes after you cleaned the area.
The forced smile you wear after you’ve answered what feels like a million questions about one product for a Customer, only to have them walk away without buying it.
The teeth-grinding moment that occurs when Customers continue shopping after multiple people have told them the store is closed.
Nothing Customers do makes sense. They show you what the human race looks like when switched onto autopilot and placed somewhere they don’t care about. So instead of yelling in your head: “Why?! Why would you do that!” Start to think: “Of course you’d do that, you’re a Customer.” We will never fully understand why Customers do what they do but at least you can walk away knowing you’re one of the few intelligent people left in the human race.
This is an excerpt from the book How To Hack Your Retail Job, head here to find out more.