Getting Respect From Your Boss

When your boss hails your name from across the room, what is your normal reaction?

The premise for this question is from an incident I had the good fortune to resolve. It happened in a TANDY store about three years ago, though I do not recollect what my original purpose nor purchase was meant to be!


I was standing at the counter quietly laughing at the boy assisting me with my query. He somehow decided that personal respect and dignity could be thrown to the wind in favour of his own costume to wear at work:

  1. Work pants so low on his waist that his colourful boxer-shorts were clearly visible above the belt line.
  2. White shirt mostly untucked, except for the small space above the front of his slacks. The reason was obvious: An enlarged belt buckle that would have made Elvis Presley jealous!
  3. The mop of hair that didn’t fall across his face was solid, felled upwards and outwards in every direction. He looked like he played with one electrical toy too many. Yet he still had a few carefully positioned fingers of hair draped down a cheek and down one eye. I assumed he was an Emo having a REALLY bad day. Somehow the teenage joker somehow held down a job whilst insulting the dignity of the retailers industry.

That was the worst of it, as far as I could see. Or was that eye-liner? I didn’t want to ask nor find out!

Anyhow, my story is about another interesting issue that suddenly revealed itself. The clothing style of the current generation of voters is of little consequence to me, just so long as they can type their own name without using SMS speak.

From across the room came a command that only a boss could utter in public… “David, Come Here!” I will admit that the voice stopped nearly everyone in the store, including me. It was direct, yet not as aggressive as some might think. Yet the boy before me reacted interestingly…

Awww, Boss! What have I done wrong this time?!” He didn’t move from the counter, but did stop serving customers. I remember having to catch his eye attention to finalise my transaction.

Before he took a second step, I stopped him in his tracks. Like a Jedi-master I lifted one finger into the air just in front of myslf. The lad look confused by the suggestion and stood quietly wondering what would happen next…

David, I have some good advice that will win you the respect of your boss. Are you interested?
Umm, yeah, sure…” He was less committed to listening to me than he was to his hair, yet stopped and looked at me.
David, when your boss calls your name – how do you know he is going to yell at you for doing something wrong?
Well, yeah, that’s what normally happens.
As of today that won’t happen again. And the power to ensure it is in your hands!” The kid was listening now, his eyes and stance were all pointed in my direction. Good, because I was on a roll! “Next time he yells your name, this will be your reply: ‘Yes boss? How can I help you?’
That simple?
Well, not quite. You’ll have to listen to him. You’ll need to understand his concern. You’ll have to care about his business and be willing to help him get what he needs. … Does any of this sound possible?
I guess so.” (I don’t mind simple statements, but this kid didn’t have much to say!)
Which reminds me: You’ll have to be definite, decisive and debonair. Nothing says success like someone who knows where he is going right now! Make sense?
What happened next astonished me. Suddenly his shoulders lifted and he swept his long hair backward. The skinny take stood tall and proud. His eyes stared forward almost menacingly.
I have always wondered where the fine line is. Thank you for clearing that up.

Wall of Water

Let me clear up one important issue:

This article has been re-written to suit publication.
[1] I was much more abrupt about his dress sense. ; [2] I didn’t say so much to him about how his attitude could be improved if he didn’t respond so negatively. But if he hadn’t brushed me off, I would have. A spade is a spade, and I ain’t afraid to use it to hit some people between the eyes. ; [3] and I wish the kid had responded so clearly and confidently. He brushed his hair back and walked to his boss without acknowledging me at all.
So this article is more about how I wish the moment had happened, and how more retail workers should act at work.

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