Lowering the Temperature One Act at a Time
It feels like people are more stressed and less patient than ever before. And as parking professionals, we are on the blunt end of that sentiment more than ever. This realization created an unsettled feeling that sent me in search of a way to cope and to find a way to help “lower the temperature.”
How can we, as leaders, help our people resist the urge to raise the temperature by “returning the favor” and give them the tools to do something to absorb some of their customers’ emotions and replace them with positive energy and joy? This is difficult stuff, because deep within our “croc” brains, we’ve been hardwired for fight or flight. We did not survive all these years by just standing there and risk being eaten.
Standing there and taking it requires strength. Standing there takes skill. Standing there takes compassion. So how do we find the strength or the tools to do this? For me, it usually starts with a book. In this case, it was two books that I devoured via Audible on my daily two-mile walk.
The first book I read is “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is a book designed to give you the personal tools to understand your personal belief system and improve it. I believe strongly that having the capacity to have compassion for others starts with the ability to have compassion
The first agreement is to “be impeccable with your word.” We all have millions of thoughts every single day that no one else ever hears. We hear them. By taming the negative words said to yourself, you train yourself not to use the power of the word against others.
The second agreement is “don’t take anything personally.” The fact is, each time someone “comes at us,” we believe it’s personal. Our ability to absorb that anger hinges on our ability to know that a person is angry with the circumstance much more than us. That’s especially true in parking. For all we know, someone is late, anticipating distress on the other end of the parked car or simply having a bad day. Even if they are directing their vitriol at us, we shouldn’t take it personally and “don’t make assumptions,” the third agreement.
Accept they are angry, but don’t take it personally and don’t assume you know why they are angry… just stand there. The last agreement is “always do your best.” Doing your best doesn’t mean delivering an A+ every time. Sometimes, the best we can do is a B. In the parking circumstance, your best may simply be to help them get their car parked.
The next book I read was “Boundless Compassion, Creating a Way of Life,” by Joyce Rupp. Where Ruiz focused more on the internal struggle to develop compassion for ourselves, Rupp’s book focuses more on our ability to develop compassion for others. I won’t have the space to cover it all, but I would like to share a nugget that hit home.
When all we see every day is the strife that life (and parking) brings, Rupp asserts that to make a huge impact in the world requires only that we do our small part to make the world a better place, one act of kindness and compassion at a time. Rather than mirroring the anger directed at us, we can absorb it and return compassion. We don’t have to solve that individual’s problems (beyond parking) or the world’s problems, we just do our job offered. It said in part, “I am but one individual saturated in a world of suffering, help me to avoid the desire to see results, I will trust that each gesture of kindness, each desire to care and each decision to love has value. I will do my part.”
We build businesses and careers in a culture of results, and yet, Ms. Rupp is telling us when it comes to showing compassion and care for others, we should release ourselves from the desire to be instantly gratified by a response to that act.
It is our “job” to “stand there” and dish out all the compassion we have, one act at a time, without expectation of results. We’ve done our job by sending positive energy into the world, knowing that our act of kindness may be the catalyst for lowering the temperature and making the world a better place for ourselves and an angry motorist.
These books made me a better person and taught me that I’m in control of output, and not results. It’s both exhilarating and liberating. I would highly recommend them both for you, too!