behavior, call center, common sense, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, customer service, customers, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, values

Be Nice!

Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.

On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.

‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’

‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’

‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’

‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’

Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.

Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.

Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?

If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.

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black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, radio, values

If You Don’t Like What I Have to Say, Get Off My Blog!

I’m going to make some people mad, I know I am. Too bad and if you don’t like it there’s the door.

As a black woman, I have an issue with black radio. About a month ago, I was in my car listening to one of the syndicated, drive time radio shows. The day before a white woman had called in to complain that the show was basically racially charged. Everything she heard was ‘White people this’ and ‘White people that’ which I agreed with and she compared him to the last radio show which did the exact same thing. The host got flippant with her and since it was a replay from the day before I’m not sure where the conversation went after that.

The next day I had a discussion with my mother about it and she shared my viewpoint since it’s something she deals with everyday. As much as she loves the Tom Joyner Morning Show or the Steve Harvey Morning Show, she can’t listen to it in her office. She works with two white women and who wants an awkward situation when one of the radio hosts launches into a white people tirade or joke? The office radio is set to a pop channel, a predominantly white channel by the way, with no fear of a racially charged topic or someone feeling uncomfortable. The only side effect is that my mother knows more pop songs than what I’m used to.

As a people we want people to open the door and accept us, yet we put our own dividers up. Now we have our situations from time to time where we have to get organized and involved, I know that, but it’s not every single day.I even like the little known Black facts segment on the Tom Joyner show but the jokes concerning other races really have to go.  If a white radio station ranted about black people the way we talk about them, we’d be outside the building picketing with our pitchforks and torches with Al Sharpton and the Rainbow Coalition being flown in. So why do we feel we have the right to do that to other races?

If you want people to change, you have to start with yourself. If we’re not willing to take change seriously, why would any one else?

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cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, Uncategorized, workplace

Extremes of Fitting In

This week on The Talk, co-host Julia Chen confessed that she gave in to pressure from her boss and a potential agent to have surgery that would make her eyes less Chinese and more Caucasian. They felt that the eyes she was born with were not expressive enough for an anchor’s position. The plastic surgery seemed to work for her because she excelled in her career and her co-hosts applauded her for doing the right thing. So when is it okay to change who you are to please other people?

If my boss tells me I look too black, my nose is too big, or my hair is too nappy to make it in the workplace, where do I draw the line? Do I succumb to racist peer pressure for the sake of a job? We’re talking more than not dressing business professional, we’re talking about the features a person was born with. My dad’s eyes, my mom’s smile, the light spots on my legs I got from my grandmother, the moles that were passed down from my maternal great grandmother’s native American side, all these things make me who I am. It makes me unique. Is changing my outside appearance even worth it.

What about kids who are bullied? I’ve seen stories where parents who have a kid who’s being teased takes their child for cosmetic surgery to correct the ‘problem’. What lesson is that teaching? Yes, they’re right, there is something wrong with you, let’s fix it. What does that do to a person’s self esteem? Why not give kids the ammunition to get past bullying?

Is it okay now to let other people’s opinions affect what we see when we look in the mirror? Do I really want to disfigure myself because my looks offend some jerk who really needs a trip to Human Resources? What about the thirteen year old girl who gets a boob job so the kids can stop teasing her about her flat chest?

Is a job or fitting in even worth that much trouble? If I have to make all these changes to fit in, maybe it’s not a place where I really want to be.

Life is tough, we all know that. There will be bumps, bruises, and roadblocks along the way.  How nice is it to face all those challenges and still be intact when we reach the finish line?  True, Ms. Chen got her dream job, but is the victory still sweet when she looks into the mirror and sees a totally different person staring back at her? How does it feel to reach your goal, knowing you took the easy route?

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