I am about to come out of the shopper shame closet. I hope you’re sitting down. My name is Angie and I am a secret Wal-Mart shopper.
A secret Wal-Mart shopper is not to be confused with a Wal-Mart secret shopper, mind you.
A secret shopper is a person who offers his employer a glimpse at what a real customer would experience, and generally the employees never even know they have been “shopped.”
But as a secret Wal-Mart shopper, I do not hide my identity to the people at the store (though I feel a little dirty, shopping there, not gonna lie–but seriously? Sometimes my inner cheapskate comes out and drags me there, reminding me that there is no reason to pay more money for the exact same item I can buy elsewhere just because I have Wal-Mart shame. Don’t judge me. I just don’t see any logic to it.
However, it’s safe to say that there is a certain lack of concern for customer service, at least in some Wal-Mart stores in my area.
Well, one evening a couple weeks ago, I thought I was finally ready to end my secret Wal-Mart affair. I’d spent more than an hour gathering up $500 worth of groceries, household items, toiletries and school uniforms for my kids (all under one roof, and that was enough food to feed my family for literally three weeks!)
Again. I just can’t help myself. I’d have spent at least twice that if I’d bought all of that locally.
And then, I waited in a single line with 16, 17, 18 other customers, a line that over the course of ten minutes kept me in the same spot but continued to get longer.
If I didn’t need all that stuff, I swear I’d have walked right out of there!
Proof of the power of social media: I am writing this post in which I am publicly admitting my secret and tawdry affair with Wal-Mart.
A man next to me in the line who was really sweet and totally reminded me of some awesome outdoorsy dad type offered me his place in line, even though my cart was formidable and would clearly cost him an extra 30 minutes in line, if this checker was really moving as slowly as she appeared to be.
She seemed to be in slow motion. It was making me a little testy. Ha, that might be an understatement.
I thanked him and politely refused the offer, pointing out the whole cart thing.
The Tweet of Defiance: My Pseudo-Dramatic Social Media Moment
Anyhoo, that was about the time I decided to tweet my displeasure about this situation with a bold shout out to @WalMart. I was feeling all kinds of bold and justified.
Note to self: never shop at the Ferguson @Walmart again. One line open, 16 carts deep, not moving. Seriously? Turn down.
After my tweet of defiance, I noticed that within 3 or 4 minutes, like three new lines opened right up.
I am not saying it was the tweet. I am just saying it was a super fun coincidence if not.
I looked around at the relieved congestion and the people feeling less stuck and the mood lightening and smiled. (Meanwhile inside my head, I’m feeling like I am some kind of Wal-Mart shopper super hero, like my mad social media skills totally saved the freaking day. Like, I reached out and told on them via Twitter, and Mama Wal-Mart made them play nice…ahh….)
But really–I know, it could be a coincidence.
Well, then what should’ve and almost did permanently end my secret Wal-Mart affair happened…I came face to face with the checkout girl, who, by the way was an absolutely gorgeous teenager.
Unfortunately, her mother nor her employer had taught her how to talk to people. The first thing she said to me, after announcing “there’s no waiting on 10,” was, “uh ma’am, I’m closed.”
That was about the time I almost cried and started a public scene at Wal-Mart, totally blowing my secret cover. This was so unlike me, but damned if I didn’t just give up my spot in that other line that had refilled my spot and gone four big carts deeper.
It was a hard day, y’all, and it was nearly 10 p.m. at this point. I just wanted to go home.
I guess the beautiful checkout girl sensed my desperation, because she took pity on me and allowed me to stay.
I got this impression she was trying to leave, because she then informed me that she had seen me in the aisle earlier and she felt sorry for the checkout person who “got me.”
You know, because I was buying so much stuff…from the store…that she works at…ahem.
No seriously, she really said that. At least the part about feeling sorry for the checker (herself, as it turned out–karma’s a bitch, ain’t she?).
My #1 Customer Service Tip to Anyone Who Gets Paid by a Store, Shop or Other Business That Depends on My Money: Don’t make me feel guilty for spending it there!
That was about the time I told her that if I worked at Wal-Mart, I’d love customers who come in and spend that kind of cheddar on a semi regular basis (don’t judge me! It’s usually once quote month or less and I totally support my local businesses, too…but please note that I personally know a few people who have worked at Wal-Mart over the years, and that, in my opinion, counts as supporting locals.
Heck, I worked for American Studios, the company that previously subcontracted as Wal-Mart’s portrait studios, in my college and slightly post college years. I personally never worked for Wal-Mart but I suppose I would’ve never had those opportunities (and back then, top notch training) were it not for uncle Sam (Walton).
Plus, I am interested in this whole mother’s day campaign that is featuring products from woman owned companies, but I am saving that for another post.
(Which reminds me, tune in all week to find out what I’ll be revealing about myself at Queenbeeing.com – it’s related…sorta. But it’s definitely huge.)
So, the checker sort of redeemed herself by getting all the groceries in bags and helping me load them into the cart. That was cool…except that she also made me feel like I should have apologized for buying stuff from her employer…but I think if I were her employer, I would want to, I don’t know, teach these people to stop acting like they hate their customers.
But here is why, at present, I haven’t broken up with Wal-Mart yet!
Wal-Mart’s Social Media Geniuses: I can’t quit you!
Like I said, maybe it was just a coincidence that directly after I tweeted, the floodgates (aka checkout stands) miraculously opened up. But then again, maybe not. See, once I got home, I noticed that Wal-Mart had tweeted me back!
@angieatkinson Thank you for letting us know about the long lines at your local Walmart. We value what our customers have to say. -Jes — Walmart (@Walmart) April 29, 2014
As a total social media geek, I just can’t quit a company that has that kind of sharp customer service on its side–despite the fact that it sells its products for “irresponsibly low” prices, according to Daniel Tosh. (And come on, that’s a whole lot of the reason I can’t stop, let’s be honest!)
With all of this being said, I’m fully prepared to have the Wal-Mart hating-party rain down its disdain on me–I can take it. Let me have it–I deserve it. I hate myself for loving Walmart.
How do you feel about Wal-Mart? Let me hear it in the comments section, below!
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“Our scarves and shawls are all of the finest quality, which means that our customers can benefit from great style and a fabulous addition to their wardrobes,” said Jane Cuddehe, Scialle owner and stylista. “Our sale items provide even more affordable access to our fine products, giving customers the chance to enjoy our superb quality at a significantly reduced price. We also offer free shipping, which means that customers can save even more on the cost of their purchases.”
“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.” ~Brian Koslow
Do you ever encounter situations when you feel very strongly about how you believe a project should be planned, carried out or completed?
Do you sometimes feel annoyed that the others involved don’t see the situation the same as you do?
Here’s where good negotiation skills come in handy.
Regardless of the career you’ve chosen, there will be times you’ll find negotiation necessary. Learning this critical skill will also improve your personal relationships.
And I’ve got good news: it’s not as hard as you think to learn to negotiate effectively. Try these tips to help you get started.
Know what you’re talking about. Avoid in-depth discussions about topics and situations that you’re not yet educated about. Before you start conversations or new projects, ensure that you understand the ins and outs. Preparation is your friend in negotiation.
Keep an open mind to what the other person has to say. We’ve all had the experience of rushing in and insisting on what we want, only to discover later that it’s actually quite similar to what the other person wants–we just didn’t know that because we weren’t listening.
Find some common ground. With a little luck, you’ll only disagree on one or two minor points. Make a list of where you’re in concurrence and where you’re split. This will concretely illustrate how much negotiating will actually be necessary and how much you really do agree.
Talk about the issue at hand first. Avoid trying to discuss solutions until all parties are fully informed. You’ve got to be on the same page about the issue before you can possibly be on the same page for the solution.
Keep your emotions out of it.Consider the situation as business. Remain objective at all times. Keep your cool.
Don’t be a jerk. You’ll just lose credibility, and no one will be willing to listen to you. Consider the feelings and opinions of everyone involved as important as your own–if you discount an idea before you consider it, you could be doing yourself a huge disservice.
Be honest and use integrity. If you misunderstand an element of the challenge or their proposed solution and suddenly realize it, say so. Keep your word. Respect the other person. Don’t be afraid to be wrong–acknowledging your mistakes makes you someone that most people will respect.
Ask for the other person’s ideas. Solicit suggestions from them on how to resolve the situation. Listen carefully, and be willing to implement the workable parts of what you hear.
Remind yourself that you’re on same side. After all, you both want to resolve the issue. If you focus on finding common threads, you can find a solution that works for all involved.
State your ideas for a solution. Make your case, too; tell them why you believe it’s the way to go. For example, you could say something like, “Rather than make in-person follow-up visits once per week to new customers, I think it’s a better idea to do them monthly and use the off-weeks to follow up by phone.” To make your case in this example, you may follow up by saying, “This way, we’ve got time during the off-weeks to develop new customers. We’ll be widening our customer base while keeping contacts with customers we already have.”
Show flexibility. You’re two separate people with two separate sets of ideas and perspectives about the issue at hand. Avoid expecting to get your way 100% of the time.
Learning to use effective negotiation skills will help you in accomplishing any goals you have that involve others. Skillfully listen, remain non-emotional, discover points of agreement, honestly state your ideas, and show flexibility when interfacing with others. Get what you want by putting these excellent negotiation skills to work for you.
What are your best negotiation ideas? Share them with me in the comments section, below.
Have you ever found yourself unfocused, distracted…essentially spinning your wheels at work?
Even if you are passionate about your chosen career path, are there days during which you accomplish next to nothing?
You know the kind I mean–you start the day with high expectations and a solid plan to accomplish your goals, but come day’s end, you’ve got very little to show for your efforts. And worse, you feel like you’ve been working hard all day.
Many of us experience these days (or weeks.) Here’s the thing: even if you absolutely love what you do for a living, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work.
And, especially if you’re passionate about your work, you may not even realize it’s happening until you’re deep in the throes of the apathy and “brain fog” that comes along with workplace stress.
Left unchecked, workplace stress can have significant effects on your health, both mental and physical. And, when you don’t feel good, your perception on life can become corroded with that negative energy–effectively drawing more negativity into your life.
Is workplace stress a problem for you? Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you consistently anxious, irritable or depressed?
Have you experienced a loss of interest in your work?
Are you having problems with sleeping? Fatigue?
Do you have trouble concentrating?
Do you have physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches or stomach problems?
Do you find yourself withdrawing socially from friends and family?
Have you experienced a lower sex drive than usual?
Are you using alcohol or drugs to cope?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to make some proactive changes to promote positivity in your workplace and in your life. Doing so can reduce stress levels and ultimately eliminate many of these issues.
So what can you do?
Take Care of Your Body
An imbalanced diet can significantly contribute to “burn out.” And, ironically, in an effort to make their lives easier, busy people tend to make the unhealthiest choices. Many “convenience” foods are laden with fat, sodium and sugar, the effects of which will only make you feel more stressed.
Eat healthy, whole foods as often as possible. Reduce or eliminate intake of alcohol and nicotine. Get at least a half hour of exercise, most days of the week, and get enough sleep. It won’t kill you to pull an all-nighter on occasion, but in general, keep to a regular sleep schedule.
Take Care of Your Soul
When you love your work, it’s easy to over-commit and over-schedule yourself. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, and eventually to apathy and loss of interest. Be sure to schedule down-time, especially if you’re a perfectionist who can’t stop until the job’s done. Sometimes, you just have to step back and regenerate. Otherwise, you may end up getting nothing done.
Sometimes, taking a couple of hours to do a little deep cleaning at your house can help you to release your stress.
If you’ve got an office or cubicle at work, clean that too (or have it cleaned.) Many people believe that the condition of your home represents the condition of your mind. So, if it’s dusty and cluttered, you might be feeling a little blocked yourself.
Do yourself a favor and spend a little time cleaning up around the house, and you may just find that your focus snaps back into place. You’d be surprised at how therapeutic a little cleaning can be.
Priorities and Planning
Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed is just the result of not having a plan. Especially when we love our work, many of us take on too many projects and before we know it–we’re spinning our wheels, getting nothing done.
The best way to create a daily plan is to have a basic daily routine, but one that’s flexible enough to allow you to focus on the most pressing issues of the day.
So, for example, let’s say you’re a customer service rep who lives in a cubicle 40 hours a week. You arrive at work to find three voice mails–one from an angry client, one from someone who needs information (a potential client) and one from your boss inviting you to lunch to discuss what you suspect is a promotion. And, on top of that, you’ve got two co-workers waiting to ask you questions about their own customers.
When you develop a basic schedule, you can prioritize these types of things in advance–so, in the case of our customer service rep, she might have a morning routine like this:
1. Deal with any co-workers waiting for me.
2. Return phone calls in order of urgency.
3. Check email.
4. Start taking calls from customers.
The point is that whatever your job, simply putting an outline of your day together can help you to reduce your stress levels at work by helping you to prioritize your tasks. Of course, there will be times when an urgent situation throws all of it out the window–and this is where you need to allow for flexibility.
Change Your Mind
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–it’s all in your head. Life is what you make it.
So, if you’re feeling stressed at work, change your mind–change your perception of the situation. Instead of feeling angry and frustrated that you have to deal with so much, feel grateful that you have a job (and that you love what you do–if that’s the case.)
It’s easy to forget why we chose our career paths when we feel overwhelmed by our day-to-day lives.
Don’t hate your job. Love it, even if it’s not ideal.
Be grateful for it, and do it to the best of your ability. If the job you’re currently in isn’t right for you, start imagining yourself in one that is.
Feel what it feels like, and then focus on having it. Always focus on the positives and the things for which you are grateful–and you’ll attract more of it into your life.
Spend time hating your job and wishing away your time–and you can be sure to expect more things to hate in your life. Remember that like attracts like–so feel positive and happy and more good things and situations will be attracted into your life.
What do you think? Have you experienced workplace stress? How did you handle it? Share your experiences in the comments section below. And don’t forget to update your Bliss Book!