Working with the public requires the right attitude

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Jamie Bowles
The Broadside

Working with the public on a day to day basis is not an easy task, but it is an important and necessary part of almost every job.
Cora Gammel, who works the counter at the Central Oregon Community College Bookstore, gets a heavy dose of this at the beginning of every term.
“The lines are comparable to those at Disneyland,” said Gammel. “Some people just walk in, say a few choice words and walk back out after seeing the lines.”
With the stress of the first few weeks of school, getting into classes and finding parking, it can be a struggle to contain a bad attitude.
“You just have to focus on the person in front of you,” said Gammel.
In order to smoothly get through the crowds at the bookstore, the employees support each other, have each other’s backs in the case of escalating customer frustration and help each other keep their own attitudes positive.
When dealing with the public in a hectic setting, such as the campus bookstore during the start of the term, the right attitude can make all the difference.
“You just have to have a good sense of humor,” said Heather Storer, a bookstore employee.
Having a positive attitude and sense of humor extends beyond the college campus as well.
Michelle Shackelford, who has been an employee at the Bend Walmart for nearly 15 years has had to deal with customers of varying attitudes.
“Think about it, you don’t know what is going on in this person’s life,” said Shackelford, “There could be something horrible going on, like the loss of a spouse or their job”.
Shackelford has managed to make friendships from the customers she sees on a daily and weekly basis. One friendship stemmed from her noticing a customer who was weeping and she approached her, gave her a hug and let her know that she cared.
Not knowing what a customer is bringing to the table can make it hard to deal with bad attitudes, so staying positive and being the one to offer the help is key.
For Tyler Hayes, the financial aid advisor for COCC, said the stress of his patrons all stems from one thing: money.Hayes helps students with issues regarding financial aid. which can be a stressful topic for students.
“It’s a matter of trying to work through it with them,” said Hayes.  “Money can be stressful for anybody.”
People seek assistance for a reason; they need something, whether it is a textbook, a shopping list or money to pay for college and bills. When this need is at risk of not being met, it can bring out the worst in people.
“Generally, people want to be good and do the right thing,” said Shackelford.
When working with the public, you just have to take the good with the bad and let the bad roll off your shoulders.
“Just listen to them,” said Hayes.  “It is the most important thing.”

(Contact: jbowles@cocc.edu)

https://www.midoregon.com/accounts/student.shtml

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