The absence of a message is a message.
When my coworker said this during one of our weekly calls, I didn’t quite understand what she meant. And then I visited our neighborhood post office…
I should mention that our post office is known for poor customer service (per Google reviews). Not only have I experienced it for myself, but I’ve witnessed postal workers snap at customers for no reason at all. Hostile USPS alert!
During my most recent visit, I remembered my coworkers words and adjusted my attitude accordingly. Let me explain further.
*PW = postal worker
Me: Good afternoon!
PW: How can I help you?
Me: I would like to mail these two packages via Media Mail.
PW: These packages only contain books?
Me: Yep, only books.
PW: What kind of shipping would you like?
Me: Ummm. Media mail…?
PW: That’s not a kind of shipping. –> This is when I knew how the interaction was going to play out.
Me: Regular shipping is fine then. –> Dumb answer, I know. But I really didn’t understand her question.
PW: There’s no such thing as regular shipping. –> Said as she mockingly laughed.
Me: Blank stare.
PW: Do you mean standard shipping? –> Said in the most condescending tone ever.
Me: Yes, please. That’s fine. –> I wanted to snap right back, but instead, I took a deep breath and used as few words as possible.
PW weighs packages, I pay, etc…
PW: You’re done.
Me: Thank you.
Just because I didn’t snap back doesn’t mean I didn’t want to say more. Trust me, I did. I also wanted to “accidently” knock all the boxes and envelopes off the shelves as I walked out, but I didn’t.
As annoyed as I was, I came to realize that by not responding to the PW [the way I wanted to], I still sent a message and learned something in the process. Not every situation warrants a reaction. Sometimes people are going to unkind/rude. This has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.
The absence of a message really is a message. Even if you are the only one who really gets it.