Caught Off Guard at the Library

As I walked to my car from the library I kept asking myself “How could she even THINK that?”  I felt like I had just been accused of stealing a CD from an audio book!

I took a few minutes to reflect on what had just happened.  I had walked inside the library to return an audio book that was missing the 3rd CD.  I guess I expected I would be thanked for taking the time to do this when I could have just tossed it in the outside drop off box without notifying them the set was incomplete.  After all, if I were the librarian I would have thanked the me!

Instead, the librarian took the set, said nothing, flipped through all the CD’s twice, walked to the phone, picked it up and made a call.  She explained the situation to the person on the line, hung up, handed me the case and very firmly stated “You will have to return it to our sister library in _______ as it’s their book and you will have to DEAL with them.”

I politely asked what did she mean by “Deal with them?”

“It’s out of my hands!” she exclaimed as she backed up with her hands raised as if to protect herself.  (I started to wonder if she thought I was going to deck her???? – anyone who knows me well would laugh at that one!)

I asked, “I understand you can’t make their decision but could you explain the policy regarding returning an incomplete set?  Am I expected to pay for it?”

“You’ll have to ask them”, she responded and turned to help someone else.

I had been dismissed!  No problem.  But as I left I started to feel as if I had been tried and convicted of pilfering CD #3 from the audio book!  Kind of crazy but still a bit unpleasant.

What just happened here? I asked myself again.  The answer was soon very obvious!  I – the expert in human behavior and Personality Styles – had just been blindsided by a Personality Style clash.  I had expected kind customer service and a thank you.  What I got instead was a focused, task-oriented, by-the-rules, Cautious C Personality Style who simply did her job.  She addressed the situation quickly and calmly and got to the next person in line.

Was she warm?  NO!

Was she required to be warm?  Guess not.

Did she deliver her message in a typical C monotone without emotion or thought of how her message would be received?  Yes.

Did I overreact with typical I/S sensitivity?  HECK YEAH!!

Does this difference in Personalities happen often?  All the time.  I’m rarely caught in the emotional turmoil of it, but for some reason, this time it kicked me in my happy bubble of a day.

When I arrived at the other branch the kind, smiling librarian expressed her appreciation of the time I took to return the book to them.  She indicated they probably had CD #3 in the back and thanked me for taking the time to point out that the set was incomplete.  That was it….no charge, just a thank you.  Expectation and reality had synced.  My day was redeemed!

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