Are you good at handling pressure? Are you the person friends call during a crisis? Well, here’s your chance to prove what you are made of!
I am writing this while quarantined in the Boston area, watching the world tailspin during the Covid-19 pandemic. Recently, I spent three days and over eighteen hours on hold with travel agents, canceling nine flight and three train reservations for a business trip around the world. I was hung up on, insulted, and on one occasion, told that my “call was not that important.” Really? Huh. I thought my “call is very important…” – at least that is what I am told when a commission is at stake. The pressure momentarily got to that agent, but there is never an excuse for rudeness. Clients are cancelling me too of course, but what I notice is how they are communicating. Here’s the point: In business and in life, how you treat others always matters. How you treat customers now could determine if your business will survive the next business cycle once this crisis is over.
To quote the wise words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It is scary, but the world is united in a common cause. We are fearful for our health, concerned about food and basic medical supplies, worried about the economy, and many have lost consumer confidence while businesses shut down around them. The job market has also been split into “essential” and “non-essential” workers (more on that in a future post). Those who work in healthcare, delivery services, and supermarket/grocery industries are in high demand. Those working in non-essential industries like hospitality (me), especially luxury goods (oops – me again) are scrambling to figure out our next moves.
We are asking, “How are you feeling?” or “How is your mental state?” or after weeks of quarantine, “How is the family getting along?”
The questions we are ‘too tactful’ to ask? “How much money do you have saved?” or “If your job disappears, will you find another?”
Aside from health, this is what we worry about.If you are healthy, do not take that for granted. If you are reading this and have Covid-19, my heart goes out to you. Please get well soon! Nothing else matters now –fight this thing as hard as you can.
As for the other front we are all fighting, if you have enough savings to support your family, you are in a lucky position. Here in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, many people do not have even one week’s worth of income in their savings account. Perhaps we should pause here for a minute, and ask why that is:
-Is it because people don’t know how or don’t prioritize saving?
-Is it because people are not paid a living wage, making saving nearly impossible?
-Are most people living beyond their means and over-spending? – Or…
-Are many people in debt paying for expensive educations (they often don’t use) and have discovered that loan interest rates are going to keep them in debt for life?
(Answer: All of the above)
If you are in this position, I am sorry you are going through this. I lived paycheck to paycheck for years, and after coming up short a few times, I started a practice of saving money to have a sounder financial future. I will share my methods over the next few weeks, but for now, research your resources. Find local food pantries, cut unneeded services/expenses, and do not be too proud to reach out to friends for help. If you live in the United States, there are several government relief packages coming through soon that I hope you qualify for. That said, when this crisis is over, let’s look at why hard-working people in several of the richest countries in the world cannot withstand a crisis like this. I will be writing too on the disappearing “living wage” and how consumer culture has put many in a dangerous position, along with what can be done about it.
Even if you have to deplete your savings, emergencies are what a savings account is for, so let’s all agree to live frugally and see this through. (Please stop ordering things on Amazon…still me.)
Finally: Let’s all be kind to each other. Sounds simple right? Well, consider when someone is rude to you in an ordinary daily transaction. You might think to yourself, “Ignore it. He is just having a bad day.” Now imagine that everyone on EARTH is having a bad day for a YEAR or more. That is a fairly accurate picture of what we are in for, so now is the time for empathy. Smile as you pass someone (six feet away) on the street, call/text a friend who is lonely, or my favorite: Deliver cards, groceries, or little gifts to neighbors (ring the bell and leave). We will not all survive this, but those who do can choose to become better for it. Watching on-demand is a fun way to spend time, but this is also an opportunity to see what we believe in and value. Good luck on your journey.Are you good at handling pressure? Are you the person friends call during a crisis? Well, here’s your chance to prove what you are made of!