I’m a firm believer that everyone should work in customer service, retail, and the food industries at some point in their teens. Working in any of these industries allows you to respect others who continue their work after you’ve moved on.  I’ve never met a former waiter/waitress who is a bad tipper and I’ve never met a former customer service rep who treats others with disrespect and negativity. Those who have the chops to succeed in retail are a special breed of people and whether you stay in the industry or not, you’ll learn some valuable life lessons.

1. Be Prepared for Crazy

You never know what is going to happen in retail (or any other industry). People are odd, happy, passive aggressive, talkative, rambunctious, and sometimes downright mean. You’ve got to be flexible, adaptable, and positive as much as possible. It’s also so important to realize that we are all human (well, most of us) and sometimes, stuff happens. Remain compassionate and empathetic so when the storm of crazy comes your way, you’re prepared

2. The Customer is Always…

Important. The customers may not be right, but they are important. You should be ready for customers who think they are the only person who matters. You should also be prepared for customers who think they are so unimportant that they don’t want to ask questions for fear of wasting your time. Don’t forget- there are both internal and external customers. Make sure your employees, colleagues, and patrons feel important as often as possible. Communication is the key to making every person feel important, no matter what the circumstances.

3. Find Your Happy Place

This may seem silly for some, but a “happy place” is crucial to keeping your calm. Happy places can be a physical location or a mental vacation, but it’s important you find yours. Without a happy place, you might find that you’re less motivated, burnt out, or more negative than usual. Harboring any negative, non-motivated, or burnt out feelings can affect your on-the-job performance, which could translate into lower sales. Worst of all, those feelings can be bottled up and then blow up later- either at home, or on the job. Find your happy place, your power animal, or woosah (thanks, Bad Boys 2) while you’re at work and you’ll be much more successful.

4. Make Someone Laugh – Every day

If you’re in such a funk where you can’t make someone laugh (or simply smile), you’re doing it wrong. Don’t be that person who kills employee morale because you wore grumpy pants to work. Now, I realize there are plenty of people who may not have the boisterous, talkative personality that I do, but chances are, you interact with people on a daily basis. Do something that makes someone smile, laugh, or giggle. You’ll feel great, the other person will feel great, and the world will be a better place.  True story.

What have you learned while working in the service industry?