When I was about ten years old, my mom and I ran into a problem at the ski area where were skiing. This problem was 100% the fault of the ski area and was the result of what might be called incompetence. We had to go to some office and ask for help. The person in front of us was screaming at the customer service rep about the same problem. The person behind the desk just stonewalled him until he left upset. My mother walked up and said, “I’m sorry, but I have
I told my mother it wasn’t looking good for us. She said, “We’ll see.”
She walked up to the desk and said, “I’m sorry, but I have a problem. I’m wondering if you can help me.” The surly customer service rep who resisted the screams of the previous guest visibly relaxed and asked what the problem was. My mom explained and within a couple minutes we walked out with exactly what the screamer had demanded.
Not only did we leave happy, but the employee was happy too.
As we left, my mother gave me a lesson that has resulted in me getting my way more times than I can count in the intervening years. She said “Most people naturally want to help you. Helping people is what makes their job gratifying. The trick is to make that easy for them. You can always yell later, but if you start with a yell, you can never take it back.”
When I find myself losing patience with a person who is the face of some immovable bureaucracy, my mother’s words come back to me and I remind myself that you can always yell later.