Hate your job? Don’t take it out on others

Sunday November 27 2011

By Ciku Kimani [email protected]

I recently bumped into a fuming friend. After I calmed her down with an offer of expensive coffee, she narrated how she had just had a session with the worst receptionist in the world.

According to my friend, the young, beautiful and seemingly well-groomed girl sitting behind the reception desk barely looked at her, she mumbled her answers, was chewing gum like a homo erectus, and when she made eye contact, my friend felt as if she was being sized up for a bare-knuckle fight.

I empathised with her, because, after all, encountering rude receptionists and watchmen is a rite of passage. Job places are flooded with receptionists who give the unfortunate impression that somebody had to hold a gun to them to have them report to work. They make you feel like they are doing you a favour just by attending to you. The pesky patience testers, is what I call them.

By coincidence, I saw an article by Chris Kyle on Yahoo titled Careers for People Who Don’t Like People. While I read it, it had my full attention.

On the list were accountants (surprise, surprise), writers, forensic scientists, budget analysts and actuaries. If you are like me, you probably have never met a forensic scientist, but I know accountants are people who hardly smile (sorry bro), and you probably do not want to be at the toilet sink at the same time with them because they understand not the art of small talk. Instead, they seem to minor in, making every conversation awkward by giving annoying monosyllabic answers.

There are many reasons why people end up in the jobs they are in, the most popular, especially in these hard economic times where career choice does not necessarily bring home the bacon, is because the job is the only one available.

Quite a sad state of affairs that is not of our making. But I always wonder, whether we like what we do or not, would it not be easier even to our own stress levels to try and be cheerful in that job?

I imagine most of us spend more time at work than at home. How then, if you are a moody worker, do you expect not to have high blood pressure if you are always angry with your job and the people you are serving.

I once had a very humbling encounter with a tout. A majority of touts in this country are known to be vulgar, impatient and masters at hurling insults. To top that, many are known not to favour clean bodies and clothes.

But this tout was pleasant. He smiled at everyone, he had something nice to say to everybody, his uniform was clean and ironed and he even had a tie on top of that cheap nylon uniform they are made to wear. On top of that, he was clean and smelled nice.

Everybody loved him. One man left him a huge tip, just for being pleasant. I imagine that he might not like what he is doing now (or maybe he does) but he is doing the best he can with what he has. We could all learn from him — be the best you can be in what you are doing, whether you like doing it or not.

Back to receptionists, they tend to be beautiful people, but beauty alone is not a qualification. Add bad attitude even to the most beautiful human being in the world and you will see the beauty fade right in front of your eyes.

Not liking your job, or the people you are serving, does not give you the right to be blatantly rude. You must always be able to separate personal feelings and work duties; your job requires you to do so, as hard as it is.

As a receptionist, your life will be full of colourful individuals, most of those colours you will not like. If things get thick, you could always pick one of the careers above, or become a librarian (imagine the liberty to shush anyone you do not feel like talking to and nobody will think you are rude).

Stay happy in your job, whatever it is — it is good for your health.