Bearing my demeanor

The nurse read off the list of questions in a monotone of bored statements. “Are you having any pain. Do you have a cough. Have you been running a fever. Have you experienced nausea or vomiting. Have you had this test done before.” While all her questions were technically the correct things to ask…tonally, they were completely wrong.

At my business, I take phone calls and approach customers with a manic zeal. When Shelia from Accounting calls, saying “This is Shelia from Accounting and…” I will break in with a hearty “Hell-ooo, Shelia in Accounting!” After telling customers about our services, I preface my questions with: “Okay, now it’s time for the interrogation room scene!”. It’s corny. It’s silly. And I almost always get each customer to smile at least once.

I asked the nurse if something was wrong, if there was a reason she was so monotonal. She flushed, and admitted that she hadn’t slept well the night before. Neither have I, I thought, but didn’t bother to say that aloud. I smiled and expressed my sympathy.

My co-workers sometimes wonder why I describe myself as an introvert. I seem to always be manic and cheerful around the office. “It’s an act,” I tell them, and they laugh. They think that I’m joking. But I’m not – and that’s what makes it effective. Because it’s a persona, a character that I play on the stage of my workplace, it doesn’t matter how I feel that day. It takes a lot to get my professional demeanor down.

But here’s the problem: It is a drain. By the time I get home, I’m often grouchy and grumpy. I don’t want to “interact” or do much of anything; I am a bear woken unexpectedly from hibernation when there’s no honey anywhere in sight. I may have gotten the trick of being personable with customers – but being able to sustain it at home is something else entirely.

I know enough to realize the need for the act at work. It’s not just business sense, but it’s also just being a decent person. Figuring out how to maintain that afterwards, when I’m not at work anymore… that’s the work/life balance issue that I need to address.

Meta notes: Gotta love the clowns in that picture, huh? And 2k words yesterday (rough), with two shorts re-edited from advice from GenCon. Not counting the blog or the business speeches/presentations I wrote. Not bad at all.

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