Don’t Take It Personally


One of my most vivid memories of elementary school was in Miss Ito’s second grade class.   We were working on these worksheets called “Math Boxes” and I hadn’t the faintest clue what to do with one of the last problems.  Recess was fast approaching, so I slipped the assignment into my desk hoping Miss Ito wouldn’t find it. When I came back from recess, she had it in her hand and yelled at me in front of the whole class for not finishing the assignment. That was the first day I ever cried at school.

I had a sneaky side back in the day..

I recreated that day a little bit at work yesterday. Except, this time the scolding was less about something I had done and more about the other person.

I came into work feeling a little sick. We had four guests on the show that day. As usual, it was my job to greet them and bring them to our green room.  As each guest arrives, the front desk receptionist calls my desk or cell phone to bring them into the studio. One of our guests arrived early when I wasn’t done setting up all the refreshments downstairs.   I brought him into the room and we chitchatted as I finished the preparations. Meanwhile, I noticed a buzzing in my pocket. Worried it may be the front desk, I left the green room and headed up to the desk.  Two of our guests were waiting. I called them past the front desk when something unusual happened. The receptionist stepped out of the glass cube he sits in and began yelling at me for not picking up my phone. The guests were shocked and I felt like an idiot. How were the guest’s supposed to trust me if the receptionist just told them I didn’t know how to use a cell phone? As we walked away from the desk,  one of the guests told me not to let it ruin my day. But, I began to tear up. I dropped them off, rushed up the stairs, and cried for the first time at work.

My producers talked with me about what happened and told me everyone had faced the wrath of the receptionist before.  It wasn’t about me. It was about him having a stressful day and voicing his frustration. One of my producers spoke to him individually about the incident. I received an email apology later that day.

During early childhood and infancy, we experience the world as revolving around us. Sometimes, it’s hard to grow up and leave behind that egocentrism. Instead of taking his comments as a personal attack of my character, I should have treated him like an angry caller on the show- let him feel heard but keep it cool. Not everything is about me.

Shannon McGuire

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About shanabeet

I’m an uncoordinated-rock-climbing-news-junkie currently enrolled in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication
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15 Responses to Don’t Take It Personally

  1. michelletag says:

    That reminds me of our readings and discussions about Gen Y, how some of us think the world does revolve around us. That was a personal experience to share, and I think your experience teaches all of us interns a good lesson. It’s good to take a step back and take into account how other people’s days are going before either lashing out or getting upset (definitely picked up that tidbit from living with roommates). Good work for realizing it wasn’t personal and moving on!

  2. Alysha Beck says:

    Wow that is a difficult situation to be caught in. Something like that definitely would have taken me by surprise and made me feel awful. I think it’s hard as interns to take criticism like that in stride because we are still new in the working world. It was unfair of the receptionist to take his anger out on you like that, and it sounds like your producers dealt with the situation appropriately. Hope things go better for you the rest of this week!

  3. You might have been at fault for not answering the phone but I think the receptionist is at a greater fault for reprimanding you in front of guests. Obviously I don’t know the whole story but it sounds like a major overreaction on the receptionist’s part. I understand what you’re saying about our generation thinking the world revolves around us, and I agree, but this to me sounds like a situation of just treating people with common decency. I think it is good you recognized for future situations that it is best to see the situation as the person not attacking your character, just calling out a mistake. Hopefully these situations will be slim to none

  4. Whoa, sounds like the receptionist needed a Kit-Kat break or a Snickers or something. I’m so sorry that happened. It’s hard to not to let things like that ruin our day when we’re working our hardest to be our best day after day to prove ourselves, then someone reprimands us and it’s like we fall to pieces. You did the right thing, you were with a guest and had to be professional. You absolutely did the right thing. Keep your chin up and keep doing your thang!
    ps. Cute kiddo picture 🙂

  5. Man-oh-man, Shannon! What a weird experience. It’s so tough to see what’s really going on behind someone’s reaction when you’re right in the moment. I totally understand how you felt. I’m kind of a sensitive person. Even in non-negative, semi-confrontational situations, I’ve felt compelled to tear up a little. It’s great that your producers stepped in and reassured you that it wasn’t personal. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person that experiences those moments. Cheers girl!

  6. asharonson says:

    I’m so sorry that happened to you. It is important to not take it personally and remember that is how some people work in an environment. It is not you, it is how you react. All that is important is how you respond to the situation. It sounds like they have you very involved in the internship, and they wouldn’t have you doing it if you weren’t been doing a good job. I look forward to reading about the rest of it!

  7. shannonsloan says:

    It’s hard when others take out their frustration on you. It shouldn’t happen but it does, both in and out of the workplace. I think the important thing is you handled it, you took care of the guests. It’s also sounds like you learned a lot from the situation. You say, “I should have treated him like an angry caller on the show- let him feel heard but keep it cool.” That’s a great way to handle it and next time you will. It’s also important to stick up for yourself. Don’t let it ruin your relationship with him, learn from it and move on. Don’t let it get you down, just keep up the great work!

  8. wilsonemily says:

    Sounds like the receptionist could have used your example of maturity in the situation! I’m sorry that happened to you; even if you were at fault for not picking up your phone, it doesn’t warrant getting yelled at. I’m glad that you got an apology though; as you’ve already said, it shows that the situation was bigger than you. It’s great that you’ve managed to turn this around into a positive learning experience and share it with the rest of us interns; this is something we can definitely all learn from! Keep up the great work you’ve already been doing and good luck on the rest of the term!

    Emily

  9. agavette says:

    What an experience, huh? I probably would have reacted the same way! I agree with the other PDXSXers on this one. It seems like the receptionist was more in the wrong than you were. He behaved very unprofessionally and immature, and you tried your best to keep your cool under pressure. We’re all human–whether that means our anger gets misplaced or that we cry when we feel hurt. I’m glad the guy apologized later–hopefully this means that he will be more aware of his behavior in the future. This is just another lesson that you can take away from your internship.

  10. Allyson Will says:

    It is so hard to not take situations like yours personally. Luckily, each day is a new day. I can imagine that walking back into the office this morning could have felt awkward and even more so when you have to greet guests. This almost seems like a reverse generational difference. It would make more sense if the receptionist understood why you were slow to pick up your phone because his generation is not used to cell phones. I hope you were able to have a much better morning today. 🙂

  11. pdxsx says:

    Everyone has terrible experiences with people. Life is an interactive experience, but I’m glad your supervisor went and spoke to the receptionist, that’s what they are there for.

    Keep your head up!

    ~J

  12. shannonkluss says:

    As a restaurant hostess let me tell you – people can be cranky and mean! But it’s important to remember not to take things like this personally. In the industry that we work it things are always changing, new situations come out of no where and people don’t always handle inconveniences or unexpected events the way you would hope they would. This is a great reminder for the future when you’ve got a full plate and have had a stressful day not to take things out on your colleagues and people around you!

  13. rkaapu says:

    I can only imagine being scolded in front of clients, just reading this made me want to cry. Public humiliation is never easy, and just to reiterate what the other PDX’ers have said, situations like this should never be taken personally. Each person has their job and, for the most part, people should stick to managing their own job (unless its the boss of course). Sometimes people have bad days and it gets taken out on an innocent bystander. I’m glad you worked through it.

  14. codynewton says:

    I often get the impression that our generation is a highly sensitive generation. I totally think most people our age, in your situation, would have reacted the way you did. I know I would have been upset with the receptionist. But like you said, we just have to keep cool. I think it’s a good lesson for our generation to learn how to take a chill-pill. We have a drive to be the best at everything we do and we need a lot of attention. That can be a good thing sometimes, but sometimes it can just get us hurt. That’s good everything got resolved though. I think the more situations like that, that we find ourselves in, the better off we’ll be in the future.

  15. McKenzie Ingram says:

    I’m getting the sense that you might be as sensitive as I am :). I take everything to heart. A tone of voice, a snide comment, when people snap at me. I internalize everything that everyone else does. It sounds to me like you were doing a great job, and just happened to step into someone else’s bad day. I think it’s important for both of us to remember that we can only control what we do, and the rest is out of our hands. If we’re consistantly doing a good job at work, and with a good attitude, then we’re doing the right thing. Having thick skin in the work environment is tough, but I think in the long run it can help you to focus more on yourself, and worry less about the negetive people who will surely exist in any job we hold.

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