Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Margie's Mad: Loblaws Has Dumped Too Much Labour on Her Shoulders

After paying $80.00 at the Loblaws Superstore checkout, Margie had to bag her own groceries. She was not in the 1 to 8 item so-called fast checkout line. Just a regular line where she expected regular service.

When Margie objected, she was told it was for efficiency’s sake, to get more customers through. Margie was downright enraged. First, she objected to doing work for Loblaws so that it could be more efficient after having handed over $80.00. Secondly, she suggested that having roving packers would be very efficient while customers are otherwise engaged keeping the process moving and paying the bill.

With other customers glaring at her for making such a fuss, she asked to see the manager. But she answered her demand at the same time as the cashier said out loud: “the manager is in a meeting”. Thought so. The stand-off ended with Margie being given a contact number for head office.

The customer service representative showed no sympathy. That’s the policy and that’s that! When Margie suggested that the Galen Weston Sr. and Mrs. Weston would never have to pack their own bags, the representative went bureaucratic chiding Margie for mentioning their names. No sense of humor there.

The only exception, Margie was told, was for seniors and the disabled. Now that really sent Margie into another tailspin as she feels quite strongly that neither of those groups should be singled out as “victims”.

Margie, as with the cashier, got nowhere with the customer service rep. Even when she said that will be the last time she will shop at the Superstore, it mattered not at all. The rep did not ask for her name or telephone number.

Over the years, Margie has likely spent tens of thousands of dollars at Loblaws in its various incarnations. No more. She has willingly supported the Loblaws’ labour force by being a loyal customer day in and day out. No more.

Margie is 83 years old and sharp as a tack. She may have another ten or so years to go. A lot of money walked out of Loblaws' door a few days ago. If you also count the people she talked to and who are equally unhappy about the downloading of labour to customers, that adds up to a considerable amount of money.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Avoiding the Slippery Slope of Negativity: Rebounding from What Life Throws at Us

During the Olympics, we lived in a surreal world. There were so many moments of joy and lots of disappointments too. Overall, the experience was uplifting as we celebrated the efforts of athletes to better their best. We were on a high, especially when Canada beat the US for hockey gold.

It was a welcome relief from the downbeat news that dominates our media. Positive experiences and messages have a hard time surviving among the weeds of travail and suffering. According to Tal Ben-Shahar, who lectures on positive psychology, articles about anger, anxiety and depression outnumber those on joy, happiness and satisfaction by a factor of 21:1!

Yet, to be creative and push the edges of our minds, inspiration partners better with perspiration than negativity. Inspiration opens us up to generating possibilities and seeing opportunities despite difficult circumstances. In evolutionary terms, it’s the only way to go for individual and group survival.

Imagine if each one of us were a little bit better at fending off the negative and cultivating the positive. It’s not easy as the reality of life is that failure, frustration and suffering abound. Nevertheless, if more of us can improve how we rebound, then maybe we will have more shared Olympic moments.

One way is to alter how we think about or evaluate our thoughts in response to an event. Cognitive scientists tell us that our thoughts drive emotions and emotions drive motion. It follows then that we have the power to change the meaning we attach to the event and thus our actions. We can cope up or down. Our choice.

The “3Ms” serve as a mirror for our unrealistic or realistic reactions to the unfolding of life’s events:

# 1: Magnifying the Failure. Avoid over-generalizing (“No one liked my idea therefore they won’t like any of my ideas.”)

# 2: Minimizing the Success: Avoid tunnel vision, focusing on the one thing that went wrong rather than the nine that went well (Giving undue attention to the one bored or disengaged person rather than the nine excited people).

# 3: Making Up Meanings: Avoid personalizing or blaming (beating yourself up instead of problem-solving your way out, taking charge).

The Olympic athletes are proof positive of the power of thoughts driving emotions and emotions driving motion. No reason why we can’t practice that too.