If I could chose my own job title I’m sure it would change as often as the wind changes direction. But, yesterday, it would most definitely have read: Sarina Young, Agony Aunt.
I’m not complaining, it’s something which pleases me. Not in a narcissistic way but because I’d like to think that we can all make a small difference to how this world works out and if people feel they can open up to me and I’m happy to listen then that’s a good thing. The outcome is positive all round.
Though I’m not sure why people feel this way. I’ve tried to work it out and I’ve failed miserably. Whatever it is, it’s also the same reason that someone who’s lost will pick me out of a crowd to ask for directions, why the 'well-oiled' person on the train will chose to sit down right next to me and make small talk for the remainder of my journey and why I cannot ever pass someone selling the Big Issue without buying a copy because, sure as eggs are eggs, they’ve already locked onto me.
Those of you similarly afflicted will know exactly what I mean.
I suppose, if you think very logically about it, my job is fundamentally about keeping happy people happy and making people who are not happy, happy again. It’s only natural that the same would apply to my customers and colleagues alike…we’re all just people, aren't we?
One of the most recent examples happened yesterday when I spent some time discussing whether or not an email from a customer was a ‘formal complaint’, therefore requiring the attention of his senior manager, or whether he should contact the customer and arrange to meet them. To me it sounded very much as though he’d be able to resolve the difficulty swiftly and to everyone’s satisfaction if he did the latter. So that was what we agreed.
As we came to this conclusion our conversation took the following lines:
“That certainly sounds like the sensible thing to do. I hope your meeting goes well”
“and an hour of my time is worth far less than everyone else’s who will get involved for something we know of and are already preparing to sort out”
“…but that doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable”
“Nope, they will always need the thick skinned ones at the sharp end!”
Reflecting on this conversation later I wished that we’d had the opportunity to talk for a little longer. If we had I’d have told him that, yes, having a thick skin can be useful protection at times but only if it isn’t so thick it prevents you from hearing and seeing and feeling and thinking.
Be brave, take the bad with the good, find humour where you can and keep smiling despite of it all not because of it. But do not do all that to the detriment of your sensibility. Because without it you’ll never be able to achieve great things.
I think he knows this but my Agony Aunt ‘alter ego’ simply cannot let it go unsaid.
quod erat demonstrandum.
Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!See more blogs from Sarina Young