While working a temporary job at a department store, I decided that if I treated customers warmly, they would return the favor.
That proved to be true until the night when a mother and daughter walked up to my register, each with a full cart, right at closing. At first things went well. I greeted them warmly, and they seemed to respond. Despite being very tired, I stuck to my philosophy of treating these women as if they were long-lost best friends.
But then my weary eyes read the daughter’s receipt incorrectly.
“What’s wrong with the world is that there are people like you,” the mother spouted off. She seemed to forget all the kindness I’d already shown them.
Unsure of what I could do to rectify the situation, I suggested that the daughter go to customer service to resolve the issue.
Even with the daughter gone, the mother grumbled throughout the rest of her transaction. And once the daughter’s problem was resolved, she made the trek back to my register on the opposite side of the store to berate me for not solving her problem myself.
Though this was the worst case of customer abuse I experienced during my short stint as a cashier, it affected the way I treated every single customer I served during the rest of my employment. Every time a customer came to my register, I found myself flinching and my heart racing. Even before I said hello, I was already trying to protect myself in case that customer would decide to treat me with the same spitefulness as the mother-daughter team had done.
It’s this same kind of reflex that causes some of us to experience anxiety in various social situations. We’ve been hurt in the past and fear being hurt again, so we put up a barrier to protect ourselves— and that barrier affects the way we behave. Our fear keeps us from welcoming potential friends into our lives. This same fear also prevents us from speaking up for Jesus.
Recently I was offered some advice that has given me new strength when it comes to social situations: “Assume that everybody likes you.” We don’t really know what other people are thinking , so we might as well assume the best—especially since most people are more prone to liking rather than disliking others.
With this advice fresh in my mind, I recently joined a group of people whom I’d previously assumed didn’t like me. With my new mindset, I had the courage to speak up and join the conversation. Turns out this was a great group of people!
When it comes to witnessing, I’ve added a few words to this mindset. “Assume everybody likes you and wants to hear about Jesus.” Would you like to join me in trying this? I’d love to hear your stories of how this way of thinking helps you to become a more courageous witness!
To respond to Lori with stories of how adopting the mindset of assuming everyone wants to hear about Jesus affected your witnessing experiences, email her at [email protected].