Every year, right after Thanksgiving, we would have a meeting at our bakery to prepare everyone for the Christmas crazies. All holiday season, we warn our children to be on their best behavior. “Santa is watching you.” “The elf on the shelf will report back to Santa.” And kids do their best to stifle their tantrums and to be sweet to their siblings. Isn’t it sad that parents don’t take their own advice?
We all seem to place so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect for the holidays. We worry that we will be judged to be deficient if our Christmas presentation, party or celebration doesn’t live up to that of others. We worry about the money we are spending. We fret that we don’t know what to buy for our in-laws, parents or siblings. We procrastinate out of indecision, then get even more stressed when time runs short. We have so much going on in our daily lives that we don’t have room for all of this holiday stuff.
I used to warn my employees that customers were going to unintentionally be mean and abusive to them. I honestly don’t think the customers set out to dump on my employees, but I watched it happen year after year. For some reason, people view those in the service industry to be beneath them or almost invisible. They cannot let their families see their stress, so they dump on my fine folks.
We finally figured out that we could eliminate a lot of the crazies by random words of kindness. We’ve all heard of Random Acts of Kindness, and this is similar. I told my folks to look for a way to give a genuine compliment to any customer spending a lot of money or who looked stressed. I told them to look with fresh eyes at each customer and to try to find something nice to say to them. When I would ring up a harried customer with a bunch of cookies that were going to cost her a pretty penny, I would say “your guests are so lucky to have someone do this for them”. I would compliment their holiday sweater, tell them their hair looked great, I loved their boots, whatever. The key was that it was a true, genuine statement, that I recognized them, and then they would recognize me in return.
Think about it. The last time someone told you they loved your top, you smiled and carried that statement with you for the rest of the day. Compliments have incredible powers. I firmly believe that if we all took a little bit more time to really LOOK at our customers and appreciate them, that the favor would be returned. I know that for the twelve years I had my bakery, it truly worked.
How do you guys combat the Christmas Crazies?