July 8, 2020
What’s in a Trigger?
- The problem with “new normal,” is that, at this time, it makes people think of the pandemic.
- Remember that providing as safe and understanding an experience as possible may help your customers to remember their own compassion and understanding.
- Adopting an attitude that we are in this together is both kind, and true.
It has come to our attention that the phrase, “new normal,” is highly objectionable to many. It seems that there is a common connotation that the phrase includes a phantom “forever.” While we are all laboring under the weight of uncertainty, bickering over the use of a phrase that has the benefit of being completely clear in its meaning seems counterproductive. However, none of us are at our best right now.
What this means for business owners, is that whether justified or not, there will be times when a client will need special attention because the stress of these times has manifested itself by focusing on, what may seem to some, something trivial. However, trigger warnings have become commonplace, which shows that many of us do take the possibility of triggering others, potentially causing them emotional distress, seriously.
It is much easier though, to avoid some triggers. Words fraught with violence, racism, or sexism are much easier to avoid than a phrase that has been common for quite some time, but is just now becoming an issue. The problem with “new normal,” is that, at this time, it makes people think of the pandemic. It reminds us that we are at risk every time we leave our homes. That we are putting any loved ones in our households at risk every time we leave our homes. To some, it is a reminder of a lost job, which is both a financial blow, and often a devastating loss of purpose as well.
Whether or not we object to the nomenclature, none of us want to stay in this state. This is a time when we all need to search within ourselves for compassion and understanding. It is a time to employ kindness, even if the recipient has not, at first glance, earned it. While it is clear that the same applies to the general public, aka, clientele, as business owners and managers, remember that providing as safe and understanding an experience as possible may help your customers to remember their own compassion and understanding.
That is not to say you are obligated in any way to disregard polices that have been thoughtfully put in place for the protection of everyone. It is however, a call to remember that the same thing can be said in different ways to different people. One customer may walk into your establishment gloved, masked, and armed with their own hand sanitizer. The next may object strenuously when they are asked to don a mask. They may feel it is a violation. They may respond better to an appeal for the protection of others. They may want to be appreciated for their effort and inconvenience. Although many of us find the inconvenience negligible, some are hyper-focused on the indignity of one more loss of control.
Of course, there is always the option of refusing service. But with many small businesses already on shaky ground, it is certainly worth considering the best ways to convince, rather than coerce, cooperation. Adopting an attitude that we are in this together is both kind, and true. While it may not always work, we know that responding to someone with compassion rather than rigidity will help them hear and acknowledge the points that you, as a business owner or manager, need to make.
And while, if resolution with an objecting customer cannot be reached, making it impossible to cater to that customer without compromising your duty to your other patrons, you will at least have set an example for how do deal with disagreement in a respectful, gentle way. This is something that will speak to your compliant customers, and may also (once emotions have settled) be remembered and considered favorably by even the client who was not in a place to hear you in the moment.
Words are easy to change. When everything feels out of our control, we cling to the bits we might still be able to influence. Now more than ever, we must choose our words wisely.