When I tell people I once worked at Disneyland they get all excited and ask me if it was as fun to work there as they imagined. I smile and tell them the magic is gone for me and I sincerely mean that. The first month everything is new and exciting but after a while you get tired of the race to perfection. You just want to be human and scream at the mother allowing her child to snot over everything or the old lady who unfolds every shirt looking for the perfect size. When I left the mouse race in 2008 I took some very valuable lessons into the world with me.
I have used each of these lessons in my everyday life and in dealing with things at work. I always tell people, if I could last as long as I did with the mouse, I can last anywhere.
1. Never use your index finger to point.
Gayle Cotton of the Huffingtonpost writes: it is considered a very rude thing to do in China, Japan, Indonesia, Latin America, and many other countries. In Europe, it's thought of as impolite, and in many African countries the index finger is used only for pointing at inanimate objects, never at people. It's best to use an open hand with all your fingers together when you need to point at something or someone.
This is one of the first lessons we are taught when we go to orientation. No let me take that back we are not taught we are drilled. They make us practice, practice and practice until we can point the right way in our sleep. When I worked at Home Depot and even now at my current job I find myself pointing with my thumb tucked and four fingers forward, palm up. As an author this may come in handy at the multitude of book signings. Never offend anyone and keep readers for life.
2. Masks are useful.
According to the online dictionary Merriam-Webstar a mask is defined as: something that serves to conceal or disguise: pretense, cloak <aware of the masks, facades and defenses people erect to protect themselves — Kenneth Keniston>.
The second thing we were taught was no matter what was going on in our lives outside of work, we smiled. If you felt like your world was crumbling, you smiled. If your dog died, you smiled. There was nothing in the world you couldn’t smile through and if you thought there was, call out. In my life outside of Disney I have learned to put on a mask every time I interact with people. At work I am that happy sarcastic girl who runs the drink station. At home I'm a gamer and writer who keeps to herself. When I'm out and about I am a quiet woman who never looks at anyone but smiles at everyone. Which one is the real me? All of them and none of them.
3. Know when to walk away.
There are times when you have given all you can to a situation and it's time for you to take a step back. Anyone who works have had boss tell them they need to grow thicker skin to deal with the public and it's true, for the most part. Sometimes, to hold on to sanity and a job, people need to learn to politely disentangle themselves from a situation and walk away, take a deep breath, drink some water and regroup. In my current job I have had to call someone to relieve me while I walk to the back and count to twenty, hoping my temper would calm. In my head I am calling the guest all types of names and trying hard not to call a manager and quit. I keep telling myself what my trainer at Disneyland told us, "If you lose your job who will pay your bills?"
4. Respect do not equal like.
This is a hard one for many people to understand. You do not have to like everyone you work with but you have to respect them. Remember everyone is working towards a common goal, to make money to live. I have explained this many times to co-workers who come to me saying how much they wish so and so would get fired. I wouldn’t want my worse enemy to get fired because I may hate them but they have someone out there counting on them to bring home the money.
If you find yourself hating the very air someone breathe, take a step back and evaluate their role in your life. Do they help keep the job running smoothly? Yes, suck it up and be polite. Is the reason you hate them personal or work related? Personal, suck it up and be polite. Work related, suck it up and find a way to work it out. Either way the answer is the same - suck it up.