Don't we all have an expectation of some things just being simple? Would you agree that making an appointment is something you'd typically expect to be simple? Yeah, me too. A recent attempt to make an appointment threw me for a loop though. It took every part of my being to remain calm. Here's what happened.
I called my normal hair styling location the other day to make an appointment to get my hair cut. I’ve gone to the same place for the past eight years. I usually make my next appointment at the close of the prior appointment. This time was different and I found myself calling to make the appointment instead.
Upon being greeted by the lady that answered the phone, I requested an appointment with my standard hairdresser for her next available appointment, either in the evening or on a weekend. I could tell the lady was busy, handling customers entering the store while also trying to access the system to make my appointment. She asked for my name, phone number, etc. Then she asked me when I wanted to come in. I repeated that I was looking for my stylist’s first available appointment, evening or weekend.
What appeared to be a fairly normal conversation started to show signs of uniqueness at about two minutes in. The lady asked me in a stern tone, what day I’d like to come in. I felt myself get irritated. I responded that I didn't know the days my stylists works in the evening, which is why I asked for first available. She proceeded to tell me she couldn’t book an appointment without knowing what day I wanted to come in.
My inside voice said, Really?
I consciously asked her to tell me the days on which my stylist worked in the evenings. She said Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So I inquired about my stylist’s availability for the coming Tuesday and Wednesday in the evening. She told me she had an opening on Wednesday evening. I told her the time I wanted.
Yay! I was so proud of myself for staying calm, because I really wanted to give her a piece of my mind. I could have easily repeated my request again and complained that it should be easy to book the next available appointment my hairdresser had that was in the evening or on the weekend. But, I didn't.
I could feel the sigh of relief inside that the appointment was made. Before hanging up, I asked to confirm my appointment by day, date, and time. That’s when things really got interesting…
Although I will spare you all the painful details, I will give you some highlights so you can appreciate the difficulty of this conversation. The lady argued with me that the date was incorrect—that May 3 wasn’t on a Wednesday, rather it was May 2 that was on a Wednesday. After a brief moment of her seeming to identify the error, she told me my appointment was in the past (April 4).
I made a conscious decision in that moment to try and empathize with her. I mean, seriously? How difficult is it to make a damn appointment?! I opened myself to the possibility that the system she was using was difficult. It was the only way I would be able to be kind in my response.
I told her that I could only imagine the difficulty she was having with this system, but that I was going to hang up and call back another time to make the appointment. At that moment, another person got on the phone. She was passive aggressive with me, as apparently she had been “helping” the first lady all the while. She said something that gave the impression that she thought I was complaining on the call before she got on the phone. She was clearly wrong. It took everything I had not to correct her.
Do you know that I went through the same shit with the second lady? She said the same thing about the dates. I kindly explained that the process was frustrating, but also acknowledged how challenging it must be for them to do something that should take, at the most, one minute, not 20 minutes.
Shortly after, the lady realized that it the issue WAS with their system and started to apologize profusely. It confirmed for me that she thought the issue was mine all along. She was terribly humbled in that moment by her words and actions toward me.
Remaining calm during this excessively long and difficult conversation was hard. But, in the end, I felt REALLY good about it. I was able to empathize with her and the struggles with the system they had to use, while also calmly communicating my need and frustration. I'm confident that because I remained calm, it allowed the second lady to identify the problem and resolve it. It also taught her a thing or two about jumping to conclusions and treating customers poorly. She realized her errors on her own, which I believe is way more powerful than any critical comments I could have conveyed.
Here's hoping future appointments are NOT that difficult to make, and that I continue to practice consciousness during the "storm."
Be open to what comes.