The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ – Matthew 25:40
I don’t like working with “difficult customers” any more than the next guy but, in my line of work, it has to be done sometimes. I agonize, I prepare too much, I forget to ask the Holy Spirit to stand by my side – you name it. Eventually I pick up the phone and do what must be done. In my current role, I deal with “difficult” customers face to face as well as on the phone. There’s far less prep time and nowhere to run to if things don’t start off on the right foot.
Dealing with customers in person was the one thing keeping me from moving into this type of role sooner. I feared it and I ran from it but I knew I needed to face it. If I hadn’t started down this road of spiritual growth, I may not have seen what I needed to do. Looking back, I definitely made the right choice. Every day I’m challenged to overcome my fear of conflict. Every day, I’m reminded my customers are not my enemies, even the ones who are “difficult” to work with. They are simply people who want to be heard and understood.
Different Drummers Everywhere
When you stand out in a crowd for what many would call the “wrong reasons” being misunderstood comes with the territory. When you have a different way of looking at things than most, you can often be labeled – negatively. You learn to not place much importance on the opinions of others – outwardly anyway. These are all reasons why these customers are more challenging to work with, as well.
I learned right away in my new role, as I stood before my customers in my uniform, that I’m seen as the establishment – the ultimate picture of conformity. I’m automatically not to be trusted. I have to work harder to build a rapport with these customers because trust means everything to them. Because I’ve developed good working relationships with many of these customers, I often joke with my colleagues that they’re my new best friends.
Really, there’s no secret to why I’ve enjoyed some success working with them. I’ve simply met them where they were, without judgment, and listened to what they had to say. When their points were reasonable, I’ve remained flexible and worked with them to gain an agreeable resolution. When their points were not reasonable I was honest with them, making sure to provide an explanation.
I’ve found far more often than not that the points these customers were trying to make were very sensible and, in many cases, I’ve been able to grant their requests and still maintain my integrity. I’m humbled that these interactions have gone so well and I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from them. Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned from them is how similar we all are.
I See Myself When I See Them
I stood out in a crowd when I was younger. I was misunderstood. I looked at things from a different perspective. I felt disrespected, not listened to, written off. I know what it’s like to be “the least of these”.
I also know what it’s like to fight tooth and nail to conform, be part of the crowd, fit in. No matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t feel like I belonged – anywhere. At least until now, that is. Each day I understand a little more that there is one place I do fit in. I’ve always fit in there and I never needed to fit in anywhere else. Every single day I’ve been the guest of honor, whether I realized it or not. That place is in the comforting arms of the Lord.
In the end, he accepts me and that’s all that matters. With Him, I can do anything. Funny – I’ve agonized over the question quite frequently. Am I ministering to “the least of these” as often as possible?
I’m giving it my best shot, that’s for sure. They were right under my nose but I didn’t realize who they even were. Thank you, Lord, for revealing another piece of your plan to me.
Question: When was the last time you discovered a truth that was “as plain as the nose on your face?” I’d love to read your story in the form of a comment below…