The framed sign behind the car rental agency’s customer service counter did not escape my notice.
The subject was attitude. And the message started like this:
“The more I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.”
After reading the sign at a Budget car rental office in San Antonio earlier this month, I immediately zeroed in on the young woman working behind the counter.
The agent, who appeared to be in her early 20s, was working the front desk alone on this Sunday afternoon, trying to process customer orders and pick up the paperwork as rental cars pulled out of the lot.
That seemed like the perfect recipe for a bad day. But that’s when she was really put to the test by a dissatisfied customer.
He was angry, saying he had been promised a steep discount on his rental car. As he pressed on, the line of customers increased. But the agent maintained her composure under his demands. He didn’t care that she had not been working when his “deal” was struck and could not authorize what he wanted. He was also very persistent.
Looking straight into his eyes, the service agent explained the best deal she could offer. But she couldn’t match his price.
As he got testier, she remained calm.
I was impressed, as were other people in the office who had watched and listened.
The other noteworthy aspect of this confrontation came as the service agent explained that it wouldn’t be possible for her to give him a manager’s home phone but that she would make sure that the manager was aware of the problem and would call him the next morning.
She had pushed back, but in such a way that she had maintained a positive, confident attitude. The customer finally seemed to give a little, too.
I share this account because this is an ideal time to remind the young workers in your household of the importance of showing up to work each day this summer with a positive attitude. Also, explain how it’s best to focus on situations they CAN control and not to worry about what they can’t. It makes working more manageable, although, to be sure, even smart and experienced adults have problems following that advice.
Employers also bear a responsibility to explain to the new batch of summer workers that a cheery, glass-is-half-full attitude about your work can rub off on colleagues and translate into favorable experiences with customers, just as a bad attitude can be harmful.
I confess I’ve had my share of cringe-inducing customer service experiences with young workers who have brought a “my parents made me take this minimum wage job” attitude to work. It’s easily apparent when that is the case.
That’s why the sign at the rental car agency made such an impression on me.
Funny thing, I wasn’t the only one drawn to the sign. Two other customers took pictures of it.
There’s more to this definition of attitude to share with your young worker. Here’s the rest of it, written by an unnamed author:
“We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”