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Dealing With Holiday Stress
By Joe Bodary
Michigan State Branch 925 Corresponding Secretary and the Retired Postmaster of Lincoln Park
Happy holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. By now, your FY20 celebrations are over and you’re celebrating the new FY. Just a couple reminders in your excitement, remember to … Oh, wait, you’re not celebrating? FY20 did not go well?
Yes, it was a tough year and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. But you must remember to keep a positive attitude, especially as leaders of your units. How you come across to your employees and customers sets the image for the Postal Service. Sometimes, things do not go as well as expected, but that just creates more opportunities to succeed.
During the holidays, it’s especially tough as the workload increases—both on the window and in delivery. It also can be challenging at home trying to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. The most important thing is to keep a balance between work and home. You must be able to avoid dealing with home issues at work and work issues at home.
You have electronic devices that keep you in constant communication both ways; it’s up to you to use them appropriately. Make a point not to check your work messages at home, except, maybe, once or twice each night rather than constantly. Everyone has dinner at a certain time. I always made a point not to be disturbed during that time. If the phone rings, it will go to voice mail and I’ll get it later. I’m not taking time away from my family.
Likewise, when I see a call from home coming in while I’m at work, I let it go to voice mail until I have a moment to spare. I set up a code with my family if it’s an emergency—just in case. I make sure I keep them to it.
Focus your full attention on your operations, employees and customers while at work. Oftentimes, you have several people coming at you at one time; you get flustered and it’s hard to make proper decisions. You may have to stop persons politely and listen to them one at a time so they know they have your full attention. It also helps you make wiser decisions.
Remember to thank them for bringing their issues to you, consulting with you or sharing their concerns with you. Keep in mind your calmness sends a message and helps keep the stress down.
Dealing with customers is another focus that needs specific attention. Usually when a customer requests to speak with the postmaster, it’s because of a problem. More often than not, they are not happy. Take a few deep breaths to make sure you are calm, listen to the customer, keep a low tone and, most importantly, be very apologetic.
If it’s something you can resolve right away, do so. If not, let them know you are going do everything you can to help. Get their name, address and a number with which you can contact them and let them know the specific time you can do so.
Keep your word! If you indicate you will call them by 4 p.m., but you still haven’t resolved the issue, call them at 4 p.m. and let them know you still don’t have an answer, but you will contact them at such and such a time. This is by far the best customer service; they know you care and you haven’t forgotten them.
These are just a few tips to help keep your holiday stress under control. Remember, too, if you are having issues keeping your stress level manageable, you always can call the USPS Employee Assistance Program, 24/7.