Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's all small stuff Richard Carlson

I’m not sure why I picked this up and read it, but I have to say I’m glad I did. Carlson offers 100 tips for reducing stress and writes a page or two explaining each tip.

Some of it is cliche and trite.

But, as I read through it, I did find several ideas that sounded like good things to incorporate into my own life. A lot of them have to do with my interactions with other people.

I’m a reference librarian. I spend most of my day interacting with people who need or want something from me or the library.

And you know what? PEOPLE CAN BE MEAN AND CRAZY.

A lot of librarians were (rightfully) upset last week when Librarian was listed as one of the least-stressful jobs with a job description that didn't match anyone's reality. Right now, I work in a small, quiet branch with a very low level of mean or crazy, but my last job was at a very large, busy branch with a very high level or mean and crazy, or just noise and activity. I found this book offered a lot of practical advice and new way of looking at situations that changed a lot of the way I interact with people and it's made for much more pleasant situations for everyone involved.

One thing I've started doing is being more helpful. As librarians, we tend to teach rather than do. We'll walk someone through all the steps of using the computer. Depending on the situation, I've just started doing what needs to be done for the patron. This is what they want me to do anyway, it's faster and less stressful for all involved. I don't deal with the tension of trying to make someone learn something they don't want to learn. The customer gets what they need in a timely fashion and exemplary customer service. Me going that extra step means everyone ends the interaction MUCH happier, and it takes 1/4 the time. WIN WIN.

One theme that goes through the book that really resonates with me is that there are things in this world that are worth getting angry over, but we spend most of our rightous indignation on the little things-- traffic, bad customer service, the jerk that puts his bag on the seat next to him on bus so you have to stand... if I’m expending all my anger and energy at stupid stuff like that, how can I effect real change at stuff that I do need to get worked up over? It’s really allowed me to look at things and say “you know what? I have much better things to do with my time and energy than to continue to waste it on this clown who’s driving super slow in the left lane.”

Which of course, leads to me a line that I thought about a lot at my last library branch:

Be the calm eye in the storm of human drama that surrounds you-- it’s hard not to get caught up in the frantic energy and squabbles that come with having a packed children’s section after school. I’m working on being that calm eye-- it’s really nice (when I manage to do it.)

Already, I’m coming home in a much better mood.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

Kelly TheWellReadRedhead said...

Sometimes I need a book like this to "recenter" myself. I work in a very people-oriented job as well, and all those rude and cray-cray patrons can wear on you, QUICKLY! I think I read this one ages ago, but I should re-read sometime. :)