Honor is defined as a privilege; it means to have high respect and to esteem someone or something. We say, “It is an honor to be with you,” or “It is an honor to serve you.” At work I try to honor every customer who walks in the door and every person I speak with on the phone but, as you’ll see in my next story, honor isn’t always easy.
One time I tested a customer’s hearing and fit her for hearing aids. The appointment went well, or so I thought, but when she returned with her husband for the follow-up appointment, she was highly critical of me. Surprised, I had a hard time just accepting her complaints and moving on. I made adjustments to her hearing aids, and it was clear that she appreciated how I helped her.
But then a few days later, she called and said she wanted to return the hearing aids and go somewhere else. And she wouldn’t tell me the reason. I pride myself on having nearly zero returns in a year. In fact, that was only the second return I had that entire year. When she came to the office to return them, I asked again what had happened and she completely dismissed me.
“If you want to know why I’m returning them,” she said, “you can find out from the insurance company.”
At that point, I had been a hearing aid specialist for eight years. I am nationally board certified and I know what I’m doing. I care about having the best fit for my customers, not just what the computer program recommends or what seems like a good idea in the moment.
You know how two doctors can have the same degree, but one of the doctors is helpful and the other makes poor recommendations or just isn’t a good listener? So it is with hearing aid specialists. With every customer, I work hard to put myself in that first category.
I did my best with this woman, which meant I acted respectfully toward her. Did I do anything wrong? Nope. Did I need to defend myself? No, it was just her decision. She was difficult to work with, and I found out when I called the insurance company that they’d had a difficult time working with her as well.
But here’s my point: By staying in control of my emotions and continuing to treat her well, even though she spoke to me in a demeaning tone of voice and wouldn’t explain why she was returning the products, I was able to represent myself accurately. In a way, even though I lost a customer, I was still able to call the situation a win because I won the battle for my attitude. She was trying to make me feel bad, and though I certainly didn’t feel good, I acted with honor and respect.
Imagine yourself in a conflict with someone that you have been in a recent conflict with, one that you have rehearsed the conversation in your head over and over. How would you respond to them next time that would show keeping your honor towards them and being responsible for your attitude?