In the DMV the other morning, I noticed the most appalling behavior. A DMV worker, let’s call her Sally, was managing a customer’s routine request (let’s call her Ronda). Sally told Ronda to fill out a few specific forms in an informative tone, which should have resolved her problem. Immediately Ronda threw her hands on her hips and became very snippy with Sally. Speaking to her like a child, Ronda indicated she had filled out the forms and said, “If you would stop and listen to what I am saying instead of jumping to conclusions, maybe you might understand what I am saying.” Unphased by Ronda’s tone and courteous still, Sally said, “I’m sorry. Please explain what you need.” The conversation continued and within a few moments Ronda snapped at Sally again , “That’s why I’m here! I didn’t step into line on a whim. That guy over there told me to come here and speak with you. And don’t you think I’m about to keep running back and forth because you all don’t seem to know how to do your jobs.” The conversation continued from there, with Ronda continually growing angry at the ever-calm Sally. I phased out at that point to tend to my own business, but it left me with a lot of thoughts about what transpired.
First, since when did adults believe it is acceptable to behave like toddlers? Ronda threw a tantrum in the DMV fully expecting everything to go her way because she expressed her anger. In my opinion, I would think being kind and courteous would have facilitated the resolution to her complaint much more quickly.
Second, when Ronda grew upset from the start, it was clear to me that she would have gotten angry at anybody. Sally was just the first face to come along. That isn’t very considerate of Ronda. It is fine to be upset with the red tape in our law system, but the people behind the counters don’t make the rules. They are likely as frustrated as you are with the system. What would have been better in this situation would be to ask questions to clarify what Sally meant while including the fact that Ronda had indeed filled out some forms.
My third feeling about this event was admiration! Sally kept her cool with Ronda, even after Ronda insulted Sally’s ability to listen and do her job. Amazing. Sally is an example of a terrific employee and person. Rather than accelerate the situation by reacting to Ronda, Sally provided information and assistance clearly and calmly to her and managed to get the frustrated customer out of the DMV without any major incident.