How Do You Handle a Bad Situation in a Public Place?

Being Nice

I may have mentioned (a time or two) that I believe in being nice. Making an effort to consider another's feelings. Especially in a work environment, where so many employees are made miserable by someone's thoughtlessness. Or a customer is not given top treatment by the salesperson.

In a previous hub, I focused on being nice to workers when you're the customer. I like to make people smile, especially if I can tell they've had a rough day.

Credited to Katemonkey
Credited to Katemonkey | Source

Just like Mutual Respect, it's a Two-Way Street


Today, I'm looking at the other side of the coin. I know this gets overemphasized, and more often than not, the employee gets blamed. Not going to beat that particular dead horse.

But what do you do when you're legitimately not happy with the service? There are many circumstances, and even more mitigating factors that make every situation unique. Is there always a way to handle it nicely? No. I wish there was. But some people just can't be reached with niceness, and there are times you have to stand up for yourself.

Share Your Advice and Experiences, Please

What I'd like to do here is start a dialogue. If you're reading this, and you've had to deal with a bad situation, how did you handle it? Were you able to keep it friendly, and if so, how? It's been on my mind because of something that happened to me last weekend. Let me start the ball rolling, but please, I'd love to hear from you. There's never a set answer that works every time, but I'd enjoy hearing your stories and advice on how to handle tough situations.

Mission Accomplished

As you can see, I eventually DID get my mower blade.
As you can see, I eventually DID get my mower blade.

When is a Salesman NOT a Salesman?


As I mentioned, this happened last weekend. I needed to buy a replacement blade for our lawn mower, and I needed advice on how to fix it. Especially in terms of what kind of tool I would need, because I'm not very good at fixing things unless it's computer related. In the store, there was one salesman in the department. He was busy helping someone else, and I patiently waited for him to finish. And waited some more. And more. Then I waited some more. While waiting, I realized he was in a talkative mood, sharing much of his life and thoughts with his customer, while she listened.

He wasn't doing his job, which meant customers (me!) didn't get what they needed, and his employer wasn't getting what they were paying him for.

Good for him... but this was the wrong venue

Even nice guys get tired of waiting. I went to a different department, got in a sales line, and when it was my turn, got the help I needed. After we were done, (he sold me the blade, and a very nice little ratchet set) I asked my sales rep to pass a message to Peter (the talkative guy) for me.

He said he'd be glad to.

So I told him I was really glad Peter had quit playing around with three women at once, and grown up. I'm happy he's found the one woman that's right for him, and that he's trying to raise her teenaged boy the right way. I know teens can be a trial, and it's a wonderful thing that he's teaching the young man how to handle finances and be responsible. It's great that he's turned his life around so well, and has become so happy. I also completely agree with his opinion of our current president. He's absolutely right, and has really thought deeply about it. And it's very important that he's had his faith renewed...

But, I said, while I was standing there learning all that, I was really hoping for some help, and I'm disappointed that I didn't get helped.

Why not just complain to management?

Well, my salesman just about fell over laughing, and said he'd be sure to pass the message along. When I told Monique what I'd done, she wanted to know why I hadn't just complained to management.

It was because I was trying to be nice. If I complain, he might get in trouble, and it really did sound like he's found happiness after a life full of turmoil. I didn't want to ruin that for him, or give him bad marks on his work file. By telling a funny story, I make my point, get people to laugh, and hopefully do no harm. And maybe, in a gentle and positive fashion, help him re-focus on his work.

The Infamous Ratchet Set

With the handle included, here.
With the handle included, here.

Maybe it worked


I've got no idea if it worked or not. But at least I tried.

One last addendum to the story: The next morning, I opened up my brand new ratchet set to fix the lawn mower blade... and there was no handle in the set. All the little pieces were there, but no handle. So I went back to the store, and saw both of my salesmen. They both smiled when they saw me, but only asked if I needed anything else.

So I said "Yes, I bought this ratchet set last night..." (and here I held the open case where everybody could see it)... "and I'm just here to pick up the rest of the set."

On the plus side, I got very good and very fast service, with lots of smiles. Maybe it worked after all.

More by this Author


Please share your own experiences, I'd love to hear from you! 14 comments

LoosingIt profile image

LoosingIt 5 years ago

Great article. If only more people could have such a good attitude, myself included sometimes, our minor annoyances could be much less stressful to our already too busy lives.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

LoosingIt, thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate the support! (And I love your hubname!)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Too funny - I think you handled it correctly. I'm not a "troublemaker" by nature and hate it when people make huge scenes in the store....my mother in fact. I tend to pretend I don't know her if she starts in on some poor salesperson - but then on the other hand, I tend to be a letter writer. If I get poor service in a restaurant or I don't like the way I'm treated, I figure the best way (for me) to handle it is to not try and make sense in front of people (especially if I'm mad - bad idea) - so I calm down, think it through and then send an email or a letter defining what made me upset and what I would have "rather" have seen or experienced. I've gotten some great coupons that way - too funny~~~ My Bob is SO GOOD at just calmly stating that he wants and he (hardly ever) loses his cool. I'm always so proud - if I get mad, I start to stammer and my voice wobbles - then it really gets bad~ I think that was pretty cool the way you did handle it - and kudos for not getting the poor guy into trouble!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Thanks Audrey- I'm not normally quick enough to think of best solution. This just sort of popped into my head full-blown, and I went with it. I like your approach- writing can be very effective, especially if it's someone like you, who can craft words so well!!!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Hopefully - although I DID get into a fight in the video store - in front of my son dressed to the 9's - some lady cut in front of me and I was on a mission (had dinner plans, etc) - I think I shocked the girl behind the cash register...not to mention the lady who did the cutting (then denied it) - and my son~! I handled it "well" according to my son but I have never before (or after) made a scene in a store~!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

That's funny... I worked in a video store for 12 years :^)

You can definitely see the worst (and thankfully, the best) of people there!

Sometimes, you just have to stand up for yourself. If your son thought you did well, then you did well.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Hopefully - but it was a little embarrassing (and the topic of conversation at the nice dinner we were at) that my oldest had to recount the whole thing for everyone...."and I thought Mom was gonna deck her" - good grief - far from it - I was just trying to be "bold" and speak up for myself for once~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Sounds like it could be another great hub coming up? Honestly, what kid wouldn't be proud that him Mom could 'deck' someone?


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

OMG - yes, that is at the top of my 'mothering' resume...my kids though have watched me in action quite a few times so I guess I should not be surprised that yet again I "acted up"~!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Sometimes the child is the parent. Monique has told me my son is more mature than I am. That's hardly fair, his toy collection's bigger than mine...


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Oh and I can SOOO see why Monique would think that~ Too funny. I told my kids long ago - I'm sorry for any mistakes I may have made along the way - I was just practicing with you guys and learning my way~ It is so true!!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Guilty as charged... I should have given John the same 'parental disclaimer'. That's a great idea!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota

Absolutely hilarious and clever article. You gave me a good laugh. I actually think that the way you handled it might be even more powerful than if you'd gone to management. It was very unprofessional of the sales person to go on about his life in such a loud manner that a customer could hear it. I am quite sure he got the message and will think twice next time he goes on and on about his life while at work.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago Author

Minnetonka, Thanks for the read and comment! Glad you enjoyed it. I love being able to solve problems with humor. Hope you're right about him getting the message!!

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