As curriculum coordinator, I work with a number of sales people and representatives of various publishers. Much of the communication is electronic, but there are a number of phone calls and personal visits involved, too. I am very cognizant of the name Mennonite in my email signature and in the school name that these reps and sales people see. I want to give a good presentation of Mennonitism, and ultimately a good name for God.
I was communicating with a salesman in New York City and preparing to give him a very large order. I still needed information from him and was having difficulty making contact and hearing back, and I couldn’t find what I needed online. I had called and left messages and emailed without receiving replies. He finally responded by email, but I still didn’t have everything I needed. He called then and left me a message, saying, in part, “I thought I already went over this with you!” and spoke rather rudely, I felt. He also sent a terse email. Hmm… I would like to answer sharply and tell him my frustration with him! I did not follow my impulse, though, considering whose name I represent. I waited a bit, then returned his call and, with the Lord’s help, was able to speak kindly and give him that “soft answer” that “turns away wrath.” He started out sounded grouchy, but when I spoke nicely and asked questions and thanked him for his help, he changed and was friendly and was very helpful. We had a good conversation and he gave the info I needed and sent a follow-up email. I was able to prepare my large order and get it to him. I have worked with him since, and every time he has been pleasant and helpful.
I say this as a win for God! I would not do this of my own self. I had to wonder how this situation would have been different if I would have spoken to him like he spoke to me, and in the way I first wanted to.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt