Communicating To Stay Sane

Susan Page
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Wednesday - May 14, 2008
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“One should not lose one’s temper unless one is certain of getting more and more angry to the end.” - William Butler Yeats

Good communication and a sense of humor are key in keeping us from pulling our hair out by the roots, murmuring, crouched in a closet or taking somebody down.

Take, for example, screwed up billings. We’ve all had them, right? As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I always try using Aloha with customer service people instead of my loud, hysterical “What is your name? I want to speak to your manager!” voice of old. I relate my issue with clarity and calm, take notes and take names - politely.

Two years ago I ended service with a local utility company, which also owed me a large refund. Instead, the bills kept coming. Over many months I spoke with Lee, John, Crystal, Barbara, Nancy, Will and Faith. Each eagerly assured they were inputting the information into the computer and that a discontinuance of charges and refund were imminent. Each time I kept my cool. Finally, two weeks ago, after three more months, no check and another bill, I called again.

“Can you tell me the history of this account?” said Yvonne, politely.

Holding it together, I said, “It should be there in the computer since I’ve talked to nine or 10 people since March 2006.”

“Well, I only see where you called one time,” she said. “I’ll send an e-mail about this over to our accounting office.” And that’s when I knew exactly how Dr. Robert Bruce Banner felt as he turned into the Incredible Hulk.

“No,” I replied, teeth clenched. “You won’t. Please give me the phone number of accounting and I will call them.” My face was turning green, my sleeves ripping.

Well, it’s crazy, but I still don’t have my refund. I did finally reach the right person, Andrea. Oddly, she found humor in my story, which I came to realize was necessary in order for her to survive the thousands of complaints like mine - only screamed in her ear. And, I finally had to laugh with her, glad I’d only shouted in my head. Amazingly, she called just the other day to update me. After much process, she was able to get the account closed, and the refund, which had been approved in 2006 and 2007, now reap-proved. We laughed. Then, she said that in two weeks I will have to request it in writing. “You’ve got to be kidding?” I laughed, half crying. “I know,” she laughed, choking back tears. Andrea has a lot riding on this transaction, since I seem to be the only “nice” person she ever talks to these days. I’m thinking about asking her to be a loyal sidekick to my “Hulk.”

The moral of this saga: Hold your temper, communicate well, share Aloha, laugh and never trust anyone who says they’re going to send an e-mail.

three star

Speaking of bad communication ...

I was born and raised in San Angelo, Texas, now world famous for taking in the 400 children and some mothers from the nearby Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) compound, where child abuse is alleged.

Most of you probably thought it odd that originally they were housed at the town’s old historic, restored Fort Concho, where U.S. cavalries defended against Indian raids in the late 1800s. Not I. As kids, we went on field trips there. I know what people looked like in the days of the old fort. I can picture the emergency meeting called by the mayor.

“Where the heck are we gonna put these folks?”

“Well, we could get ‘em rooms over at the Cactus Hotel.”

“Have you seen ‘em? They all look like pioneer women.”

“Yeah, they probably don’t even know how to use indoor facilities, if ya know what I mean.”

“Dang, we sure don’t wanta make ‘em feel outa place.”

“Hey, I got it. Fort Concho. They’ll feel right at home there.”

What seemed logical instead triggered bitter complaints because, while the women may look like 19th century pioneers, their FLDS compound home is 21st century modern.

You’ve gotta laugh.


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