When facing a situation with a difficult person, we must remember that people's behaviour is, more often that not, about them... and not about ourselves. We have to learn not to take it personally; when we do take it personally, we involve ourselves in their behaviour and that is when conflict arises.
I am learning very slowly to not take others' negative attitudes or behavours personally... especially working in a customer-oriented position, I am learning to not take things like this to heart, especially when I know that I have done my job to the best of my ability and always maintained that I want to put them first.
Such as an incident that happened today: we had to call a gentleman and cancel an appointment due to an incident that had taken place on a job site. The timing and the incident, of course, is out of our control; when I worked in catering, we called such things an "Forces of God" that the owner needs to attend to to ensure that his or her employees and clientele are safe.
Anyways, this gentleman saw this as an inconvenience to him. He had left work early on a Friday to meet for this cancellation. Now, I get it; people are busy! People have work and, when they take time off, they lose money and that is certainly upsetting. This gentleman also stated that it would be better for him if I had called at 1pm, instead of calling immediately after the incident was reported at 2:45pm. He then proceeded to tell me that he was "busy like anybody else" and his "time was too valuable to waste" and hung up on me. All the while, I did my job; maintaining that I wanted to find a solution for him, apologetic, but also assuming an air of compassion in hopes that he would return the same to me during an unfortunate, surprise incident.
People put so much value on their time, how stressed they are, and (especially, but of course not limited to) their jobs without realizing that I am also making a livelihood- I am also working and my main source of income and happiness comes from providing the absolute best service that I can give to my clients. The last thing that I would like to happen is to be unhappy in my position; and that can (may also stem from other things - I love my job, by the way! :) ) happen when the company's clients are unhappy. I am the first point of contact, and I do my best to ensure the proper service is met and that I achieve my goal of making whomever I am speaking with satisfied.
Granted, not all customer service individuals are in this attitude... but I would be surprised if not one worker at a company was not committed to providing the best client experience that they can and doing their job right.
We must learn to focus on the positive, and not the negative. If you have not worked as that exact position, then do not assume an arrogant position; you should know that jobs are not easy! Whether you be a stay at home mom or dad, a high-ranking oil executive, a cashier, or even a doctor, you know that having a job is not easy and that you are doing your job to your best ability. Do not place so much value on your time or your day as to think yourself higher than anyone else - if you are not enjoying yourself, do say so, but do not insult the integrity of the worker you are speaking with. It is a finite balance, like everything else in this life, that we live, speak and breathe compassion, understanding and patience. This takes practice! But it must always take precedence.
This is how we breed conflict resolution; a good thing. I am taking this into my life and practicing to do it to the best of my ability. Once you have successful conflict resolution, you become less afraid of conflict- you don't give it value.
My suggestion for this gentleman, if I had been so bold, would be the same logic I try to apply to a traffic jam: you're in a comfortable place with things to do. Yes, it may be a stressful situation, but in the time that you worry, swear, and brew over it, you could have caused your blood pressure to lower; dancing to music, singing to music, talking to yourself (figuring out what the entire list of numbers in the pi equation is, for example). It is all what you make of it, so let's commit ourselves to giving more value to compassion and genuine enjoyment instead of stress and time.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” - Socrates