I remember the summer of 2013, I had just returned from an awesome holiday away in Valencia, Spain. However I was broke and my bank account was crippled. I needed to find a job – FAST! After many applications and also many rejections…I finally found a job! As a charity fundraiser. Little did I know that this role was the most… ok maybe
not the most but one of the most hated job roles by the public. I was like a lamb going in for the slaughter.
Things were going well, I was raising money for X animal charity (confidentiality n all…) on the streets but I don’t think I was very good because I was moved to Y cancer charity (although they just said they thought “I’d work better” on a different team) which is a nice way of saying “You’ve not got what it takes kid, goodbye and good riddance!” I actually felt like I had improved in my marketing technique and communication skills until one day I approached a lady to tell her about the charity and ask for money. This is what followed…
Me:“Good morning Madam, could you spare 5mins to hear about Y cancer charity; you could make a real difference today!”
Woman: “I am SICK of you charity fundraisers, leave me alone” and bursts out crying.
Was her reaction predictable? Hell-to-the-NO! Is there a better way I could have approached her, maybe yes…maybe no. Here’s more.
Me: “I’m sorry to disturb you madam, I didn’t mean to upset you,”
Woman: “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout…it’s just that I see you guys everyday and I lost my husband to cancer 3 months ago and Y cancer charity really helped but seeing you today reminded me of my husband.”
Wow. Did I expect to hear this? Imagine if my mind didn’t allow myself to reach that point? What if I just retaliated, I mean I could have as she kinda shouted at me aggressively in public but it was her pain and bereavement talking and not so much her.
So I have asthma (for real, not made up lol) and I foolishly left it at uni when I came home to London for the Christmas break. To get a new one involves the GP at my uni faxing a prescription to my local pharmacy for them to dispense some for me. Remember it is Christmas time and everyone is busy and pretty stressed out. So after explaining my forgotten inhaler situation, this is what happens.
Me:“Would it be possible for you to fax the prescription please?”
Woman: “Well as a grown adult, it is YOUR responsibility to carry your inhaler. I’m busy as it is and now I’m going to have to add this to my list. I can try but because of the Christmas period, there is NO gurantee I can do it straight away.”
I was flabbergasted.
Me: “Yes, I understand it is a busy period for you all and I appreciate your efforts but could you please help me with this as it is important that I have my inhaler.
Woman: “What is the fax number for the pharmacy then?”
Me: “Oh… I don’t know.” (I wasn’t expecting her to ask for it there and then!!!!)
The woman scoffs: “You’ve got to be kidding me, well find out the fax number and call back.”
Me: “Ok, I will.”
To be honest, the second case really tested my patience and took a lot of self-restraint and holy spirit strength. This lady was being blunt, dismissive and insensitive, which was rather surprising for a GP receptionist who should show a level of respect over the phone. However a few minutes after hanging up and counting to 1000 (lol I joke…), holy spirit ministered to me in that moment and told me to forgive her and to look deeper, past her words into her heart…her mental state. This woman was probably just overworked, tired and fed up. Not to excuse her behaviour but rather to explain it and help me understand.
When people – family, friends, work colleagues etc say something to you which sounds harsh or uncharacteristic, take it with a pinch of salt. Try not to get flared up so quickly or form pre-conceptions, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Then ask “why are they behaving this way?”, “Did I do anything to aggravate this – if not me, who or what? And finally “how can I help this person?” For the situations above, case 1 I just listened, held my tongue and showed grace and again for case 2 I held my tongue but I could also pray for these woman, that their emotions don’t dominate them so much. Emotions are powerful forces, that need to be contained if not they can be very destructive if left uncontrolled.
James 1:19 – “…be slow to speak, quick to listen,”
Colossians 4:6 – “…let your words be seasoned with grace,”
Ephesians 4:32 – “…be kind and compassionate to one another,”