A Customer Service Professional's
Guide to Peacemaking
My career in the field of customer service, sometimes repetitive and unfulfilling, makes me long to be part of an endeavor more vital and meaningful, like waging global peace. Since one of the first steps to becoming a peacemaker is speaking one's truth, I am grateful for this opportunity to submit my peace statement to the FOR web site.
While ruminating about the suggested topic, "How I Stopped Believing in War", I review my life. The real question for me seems to be, when did I ever believe in war? Was it as a young child in Thailand, while I was being cared for by gentle, tamarind-skinned babysitters? Was it when I was five, in Austria, learning of the wonder of crisp green hills and green apples? Was it as a high school exchange student in Israel, when I became enthralled by lively folk dancing and a cultural tapestry? Was it after college graduation, on a trip to Nicaragua, where I learned about slow-paced hospitality, visiting as a form of entertainment, rocking in hand-hewn rocking chairs together, just being? I've never been to Iraq but, as a student of music and movement, I have read about that country's belly dancing tradition. I have learned that Iraqi women teach their daughters that the motion of a woman’s abdomen while dancing represents the essential movement at the center of the universe. I'm fascinated by such a sensitive culture. I realize that I haven't had to stop believing in war because I have never started believing in war.
So what does a Customer Service Professional such as me have to offer in the quest for peace? Stepping back from my everyday tasks, I see that there is a lot to know about peacemaking in the tools I have used during my years on the phones and in my current position monitoring and evaluating associates. We, in customer service, are charged with bringing delight to potentially volatile interactions.
The "Delightful Call Flow", as it is called where I work, is a recipe for peacemaking. It asks us to offer a pleasant greeting, then listen actively, ask probing questions, offer solutions and come to new understandings, while showing empathy and courtesy. We close by wishing the caller our best. When we follow these steps, the most irate customer can be transformed into a happy customer.
Imagine if the people of the U.S. employed the principles of the "Delightful Call Flow" in our interactions with the people of Iraq? We could develop a habit of greeting that country and its residents pleasantly, by offering unconditional goodwill, despite our differences. We could listen to Iraq, possibly hearing that Iraqis would prefer to heal their own country themselves. We could ask them probing questions like, how can we be a better neighbor to your country? We could offer solutions, like a workable plan for withdrawing our troops.
What if we tried to come to new understandings with our global neighbor? We have the best in each other’s cultures to learn from. Wouldn't a singing, dancing and cooking exchange festival between our two countries be nourishing to us all? With the ice broken, maybe then we could learn together how not to fight with our brothers and sisters over race, religion, culture, and other distinctions that falsely divide us. Empathy and courtesy could be shown by our attempts to understand the heritage, traditions and struggles of Iraq, while showing respect for their ways. We could wish for blessing on Iraq, as a pleasant closing to each interaction with that country.
My job has trained me to listen for delightfulness in associate-customer interactions. How rewarding it would be to discover delightfulness in U.S.-Iraqi relations. If our people and our nations' leaders would keep in mind the tools that I have learned on the job, a new way could open for our countries to relate to each other. Our homelands could be safe from the terror of war.
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