This week I received a call from a customer that I was not expecting. I don’t typically receive calls from the public unless they have already spoken to someone and are being referred and transferred to me for further evaluatoblem. My support staff is really great at answering questions and resolving matters. Every so often I get a random call for a topic I don’t oversee and I assist with identifying who they need to contact to resolve their matter and make sure the connection is made.
This call began in a similar pattern that I am accustomed to by providing my name and Department…then a pause…”Oh, thank you. I was referred to you by Melanie.” Then I thought to myself, “I don’t know a Melanie that would have referred this lady to my number, but let’s see what I can find out.” I replied with, “Great! How can I help you?”. She continued to ramble on, a bit disoriented and a bit chaotic about wanting to move to the city. I stayed quiet, trying to gather the crumbs of information that were spilling out in an unorganized fashion. I could tell there was more to her story then what was on the surface.
I’ve learned over the years that creating the space for someone to unload their thoughts and feelings generally leads to a deeper level of communication. Although I was already late for my next meeting, I was now fully invested in providing her support and trying to help answer her questions. After a pause and slight hesitation, she blurted out, “Well, I’m just going to tell you, I was robbed at gun point last week and I just need to get out of the city.” I felt a shift in her voice, the tone and the cadence. She was waiting to see how I was going to respond to her. I could feel the pain and vulnerability in her voice. My priority was no longer to connect her to the right department, but it was rather to listen to see how I could provide her with a sense of support. I shifted my tone, softened it, and said, “I am so sorry to hear that you went through that last week. That’s awful.” She then proceeded to tell me that it was a horrible experience to be held at gun point and that led it led to a miscarriage. Each word she spoke drenched in more and more pain. My heart sank.
Her disorganized thought pattern now made sense. She had suffered a trauma and was calling to find out where she could move her business. I have lived through loss and I know that the week following the incident is a blur. You go through the motions just to get by because your soul is hurting. I knew there wasn’t much I could do for her, but I knew I could speak words of hope. I replied, “It’s good to hear that you are doing what you have to, to take of yourself.” It wasn’t much, but I felt her smile through the phone. I don’t know the stranger who called me on a Thursday morning. However, I do know that pain does not discriminate. Pain is universal. We may not all be able to answer questions about moving a business to another city, but we can all show compassion.