I’m sure you’ve heard the Lenny Mercer song…
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene
If this is really the way we should live… accenting the positive… then why is it so darn hard to eliminate that negative voice, looping in my head?
I worked at the winery yesterday for our “Wine and Cheese” event. The cost of tasting our 10 wines and 10 paired cheeses was $10 per person, not including the wineglass. I was working the register and selling wines throughout the day, loving all the chaos and happy people who were enjoying our event, until a single woman made my day turn sour. As I was checking her out through the register when she asked about keeping her wineglass. When I explained that our wine tasting cost did not include the wine glass, she began to complain rather loudly to her companion. I apologized a number of times, explaining that we had made the decision to keep our prices low and not include the glass rather than increase our prices to cover the cost of our glass, but she seemed bound and determined to keep complaining until I simply offered the glass to her. Had she been kinder or more willing to accept my explanation, I may have been willing to acquiesce and give her the glass, but once she said that she and her friend simply would “never come back”, I knew that I had lost any chance of being able to keep her as a customer. Her tone and countenance was turning angry at this point, so I opted to discount her wine and cheese tasting and send her on her way…. anything to have her leave, still with a discount, but not necessarily the discount she wanted. To my dismay, this encounter played in an eternal loop in the back of my mind throughout the remainder of the afternoon.
While I continued to re-frame this interaction each time it popped into my head, I was frustrated by the fact that something so relatively trivial could derail my enjoyment of my work. I saw over 140 people through the course of the day… what made that one woman and her friend so much more important when I thought back over the day? Why couldn’t I just remember all the delightful people who were so thoroughly engaging and fun? Why couldn’t I just “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative”?
I struggle with this problem often. While I am a self-described “Happy Yellow Lab” in personality, it’s the negative people that pull me down. It’s frustrating, but I do believe that, as long as I recognize and work to overcome this focus, I can do my best to turn the negative situations into something useful and positive.
Intellectually, I know that I couldn’t have made the women happy yesterday. It bothers me, but I just can’t let it influence how I handle the next people who come to visit the winery. Each person deserves to receive the best experience I can offer when they visit our winery, no matter who just left the counter. It may not be realistic to want everyone to have a great time at the winery, but you can be assured that I’ll always do my best to present a positive presence, no matter what’s going on.
Accentuate the Positive… not a bad way to go through life, in my opinion…