Life Skills. One. Talk to the person who can make decisions.

You may have realised, life doesn’t always do what you want and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are; what’s important, is how you deal with it. That’s what matters.

And that can have massive impacts on your mental health.

There are two recent examples that spring to mind.  One from my own experience, and one to George Ford, England RFU Flyhalf.

During the England vs Wales test at Twickenham, England, down to thirteen men had managed to score a try.  George set up the ball for his conversion and whilst he was prepping himself to take the kick he took a step to the left, as he did so the Welsh ran up and kicked the ball away. George looked to the Referee who didn’t penalise the Welsh stating that he thought he had started his run up and the Welsh were within their rights.

With total disagreement on his face, George calmly walked away and carried on with the game unaffected by an incident that could have put a lesser man off his game. I have no knowledge of the mental state of George Ford, but he took responsibility for his actions and didn’t let the incident affect him in any way.

There was nothing he could do or change regarding the incident, the only thing he was in control of was himself. His response showed clear responsibility for his own actions, which were calm and sensible. Even if every part of him wanted to ram the referees’ teeth down his throat.  He knew what would gain the best result in the long run.


For that moment, the highest authority available for decisions was the referee.

It’s not always that simple.

Last Monday I received a text and an E mail from my telecoms company stating that as I hadn’t paid for my December Bill all my services would be discontinued.  I thought it was spam, and in any case, as I was on shift I couldn’t call out anyway. The following day I had meetings in the morning, so it was the afternoon before I could speak to anyone. The first person I got on the line was a don’t care jobsworth. No empathy at all. ‘You haven’t paid.’ Was her rhetoric. I didn’t even know I had been completely cut off until I went to go into my banking app to check the payments I had made.  I told her to go and check the recordings of the December call.  I have been a client for over 15 years I think, and a partner. I am supposed to sell this organisation to other people!  A little empathy would help!

Let me back track a little. It was December, money was tight so I phoned up customer service and asked if I could make my payment on the first of the month on the 10th. I was told ‘no’, but we can move it to the 31st. That works, made up.

Then they took a payment on the 31st of December. That’s wrong, that’s two payments in December. Contacted the bank, they reinstated the payment. Job done.

Next payment on 30th Jan. That’s Ok, as expected. I assumed the December payment had now gone. Until the 12th Feb and the communication as mentioned, followed by my call on the Tuesday. The lady also said she’d get everything reinstated. Great, except she didn’t.

I have a business to run and for no fault of my own, I had no phone and no internet. Helpful. So, I called customer service again.  A much more helpful lady, reinstated all my services and promised to investigate the situation personally. She also agreed to call me back on Monday at 9am.

Much happier, but it’s been a stressful hour and a half of my life.

Come Monday though, she doesn’t phone. I have to phone the organisation.  When she is put on the line, she does apologise and agrees that I have been misinformed and apologises for that too. I am offered £20.00 compensation. I politely tell her ‘That is unrealistic for the stress I have had to deal with, for a situation that is not my fault. ‘Would I like to talk to one the regulators?’

‘Yes please’., I replied.

Took a few minutes for them to come online. I explained the situation and straight away she offered £40.00.

I said ‘£50.00 minimum. End of…’

She agreed. Job done. I’d rather not have had the agro, but £50.00 is better than £20.00. Some recompense for the situation. She could make a decision and didn’t have to stick to the company line. She had empathy too.

No stress in dealing with her.

As in all transactions she then said, ‘is there anything else I can help you with’.

As always, I said ‘Free cash please’. Usually no one knows how to answer this question.  The best one I had had to date was, ‘I’m sorry sir, we finished that offer yesterday’. That had been face to face and the cashier replied utterly deadpan. Brilliant.

This lady replied, ‘of course sir, what colour envelope would you like it in?’

‘Blue, obviously!’

‘Superb sir, we have a blue one with flowers on, would that do?’

The call ended with a smile.

I love dealing with people who can make decisions. Even when I don’t like the decision, as long as the person has empathy.

Bit like George!

Simon Pollard           Urban Countryman          Feb 2024

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