How to be kind to someone and also respect that person and be respected?
It is easy to be kind to someone in, visible, need- hungry, no clothes, no job, not seeing, not walking, not knowing, no nothing. But how do you apply your kindness to people who seem to have it all, on the surface, but the feeling they give you is that of emptiness, dizziness, coldness, distraction.
How do you help in a respectful way?How do you do it with kindness?
A real help is a situation which makes both sides grow.
A difficult situation happened at work yesterday. It was the day before Easter time and the leaders took holidays. Since retail is a non stop thing, the others continue working. Yesterday the atmosphere was heavy. People not wanting to be there, doing things in a rush, not being present to help when needed, talking on their personal phone for hours. Everybody tugging from an invisible blanket to cover himself better.
The German team was not complete and one of the members is this girl who does’t speak English. Nor a decent German. She is there because the friend of the girlfriend of the teal leader. This is a delicate situation. I will present the facts. You make your impression. One thing is sure, my impressions or emotions at that moment were not pleasant at all.
So, the calls are coming in. It is a difficult day with many technicians on site, in the stores, to repair that black things that are gulping the money from the customers. We, as a team, are not supporting the technicians , they are supposed to know what to do, but we are facilitating the communication between them and the retail support team. Sometimes the onsite technicians do not speak English or pretend like they don’t just to get assistance, which means less people on the line and an avalanche of calls on the others. Sometimes they come unprepared and the appointment has to be rescheduled. Sometimes they don’t know what to do, don’t speak English, don’t have the tools, and also ask to speak in Russian.As you will see.
In the afternoon this martian non English/poor German speaking colleague received the call from this, likewise, fallen from the moon technician.
It has always interested me to listen to how people talk. The words. When the language is not an obstacle and the conversation is interesting I am all in. As a little girl in Moldova, with a TV in the house and 2 channels, I used to listen and watch these very interesting transmissions that the Romanian channel, Romania 1, used do. They spoke about politics, culture, society, books. I was all in. There was a time when even this channel was banned.
I am listening to this conversations. The Martian is next to me. It is getting nowhere.
After about 10 minutes of going around the bush, her not understanding who is he, what is he doing in the store, not using the language in an effective way, getting stressed and sweaty, making gestures, she finally told him to wait a little. After asking me what is to do, me telling her that she should inform the other team about the arrival of the technician (the man was still waiting on the phone), her going across the room and trying to explain, in what was supposed to be English, what was going on, the colleague getting nervous because not understanding and already getting ready to leave home, (the man was on the phone still), her coming back and starting from the beginning with, what are you doing there in the store? The technician repeating, her not understanding, getting nervous again and, of course, landing on her friends palms asking for help. “Let someone else get this call”, he said.
And who happened to be the someone else? Of course, your truest friend, the Lovegenerator. Generate some love now, Victoria.
I was angry and tired and not OK with having to carry my cross and someone else’s. She is supposed to be speak English and German at an acceptable level. In the office, among us, we all speak English. During the daily short meetings, when new procedures or announcements are done, English is spoken. She doesn’t understand, she is cut off.
Before this call was held the daily meeting and two colleagues received a kind of diploma for their good work. The boss came in personally to congratulate them. He said something that made me question the realness of the situation. He was talking about amazing things happening all around us. We are perceiving shitty days instead, every day. Who is dreaming? Maybe he is just stronger? Maybe he is desensitized? Maybe we are too stupid?
All nice and pretty until now. Only that, somehow, these diplomas are received by those who do little but have an asshole attitude, are in good terms with the management via staying quite and pretty and saying yes, or are leaving shortly after.
I have been pushing all these months so hard. Yes, it might be a personal thing also (the strong me, the one who wants to live pulling at the fearful me) but I really invested much attention and time into this job because it is my way of staying in touch with the world, with people, it is interesting to see different sides of the world. I supported the Italian line alone, me the non Italian fresh on the “market”, edited the newsletter when the manager came up with the proposal, now I am creating knowledge articles, besides the high volume of German calls, to include in the data base for those to come. I felt and thought that I also deserve a fucking diploma.
I would not be surprised to see one day the martian non English speaking girl receiving the diploma. The selection criteria are suiting her.
And now this call.
Inside I still felt anger and the desire to say: Fuck you! How dare you coming here everyday, doing a lousy job, depending on everybody else and on your friend’s influence , how dare you messing up these calls so badly, how dare you take the same amount of money as the others, how can you let yourself so low? Don’t you have a little bit of curiosity and attention? Get your self together! And don’t make our lives harder, get your fucking shit together and stop licking asses.
The darkness passed through my mind. I felt heat in my heart. All the hard work since all the years pressed on me.
The team leader, the martian’s protector, was waiting for an answer from me, can you please take over?
I chose to stay silent for a moment. Longer than a conversational silence. He was looking at me impatiently, wanting to get back to his discussion.
I even closed my eyes.
And I decided to continue in a professional, mature manner. I took the fucking call.
I told him that I will call him back once I get more information from the technical support team. He managed to tell me that he did not know the process, what was he supposed to do there. Sweet.
Talking with the retail team, only one member present and about to leave, I was told to contact another one who was supposed to be online.
Contacted that one. Was told that he is leaving as well, go contact the others in the office. No way out. The hot potato was thrown from here to there.
In these situations is difficult to not engage emotionally because you are in the middle. People throw at you charged messages and you have to decant them before passing to the other side.
The lonely member of the retail team chatted online with their leader about the whole potato game and told me to tell the tech to call his manager as well and get informed about what is was his job there.
I call the store, ask for the tech, get him, start explaining. He stops me asking if I speak Russian or if someone is speaking Russian, if possible. I do not have a Russian accent. Did he hear some sound in my pronunciation, disturbed at that moment because I was disturbed, or was he only trying his chance? Will not know.
There was indeed someone speaking Russian, at my left, the Bulgarian colleague. He has such a curious way of speaking, spitting words with hate almost and putting accents on them, and pointing at them, and making them angry and faulty. He does it in all English, German, Russian and his mother language Bulgarian. So, I came to the conclusion that this is not a language thing, it is his way of spitting out his discontentment, he does have a painful expression on his face. He is over 50, roaming around the world because in his country is difficult to survive even if you work.
Just like in Moldova.
After that I lost track of this case, other calls came in, some knowledge base articles still had to be finished. The Martian non -English- speaking left, since she has special work hours- her protector’s intervention again, and got a week of holidays approved before that.
Beautiful. This is getting better and better.
But not for her. Poor thing, she does’t know what she is doing to herself by accepting this level of protectorate.
To come into an office everyday, in a supposedly business environment, not speaking the lingua franca , not understanding what is going on, depending on someone’s basic humanity (people are loosing patience slowly), getting payed for doing a lousy job which speaks for the whole team at the end- to me this is deeply disrespectful.
Yes, she needs a chance, a job but why are people encouraging her to stay low? The other day one of them told her not to worry, not to stress out. For God sake, not to worry? She should worry and start learning now!
This is only a small case of what is going on the world.
How do you deal with it?
Well, if you are like me, someone who wants to live in a different world, surrounded by people who respect themselves and the others, curious and concentrated people, funny and a little crazy or daring , you close your eyes, breath, and go on in a calm and professional manner.
Next week I will ask her if she wants to speak in English between the calls, to loosen it up a little bit. Maybe she will try. This will make us both grow. Even is she will refuse it.
You have to be that what you want to have.
This holiday brings beautiful memories to me, from my childhood in Moldova. Moldova in spring is beautiful.