Recently, at a hardware store that I called ahead of time, asking for recognition of a face mask exemption, the manager notified all employees that a customer would be coming in unmasked. I did so, true to my word. When an employee then got after me about the face mask, he was quickly reprimanded by that same manager and not once but twice sought me out and offered sincere and lengthy apologies for giving me a hard time. As part of my political consulting work, I have advanced presidential candidates, senators, and congressmen. I go ahead of them and make sure all appropriate accommodations are in place and that they receive frictionless, white glove treatment in all of the usual spots where regular people encounter friction. It
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Recently, at a hardware store that I called ahead of time, asking for recognition of a face mask exemption, the manager notified all employees that a customer would be coming in unmasked.
I did so, true to my word.
When an employee then got after me about the face mask, he was quickly reprimanded by that same manager and not once but twice sought me out and offered sincere and lengthy apologies for giving me a hard time.
As part of my political consulting work, I have advanced presidential candidates, senators, and congressmen. I go ahead of them and make sure all appropriate accommodations are in place and that they receive frictionless, white glove treatment in all of the usual spots where regular people encounter friction.
It has always amazed me how willing people are to make accommodation when simply asked. Just asking really goes a long way.
My suggestion to you is to do what a VIP would do, and just let others know what you want. You don’t need to be a VIP in order to tell others what you want. You just need to be someone dedicated to communicating honestly to another.
You could also do what handicapped people have long done: stating what you want to a person in a position to provide you with what you want. That responsibility has been drilled into the minds of handicapped people: if they do not ask for accommodation, there is no possible way that a person who does not live their life would ever know what kind of accommodation they would need.
To pretend that another person can read your mind is utter nonsense and handicapped people for time immemorial have had this burden of honest communication to bear. It is enshrined into law as well that it is appropriate to make certain accommodations for the handicapped. It is debatable how much federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, serve the interest of individuals with disabilities, but something it is likely to achieve is to force the topic of individual accommodations into the training of virtually every customer-facing employee in the United States at any company of a certain size. Whether or not that is a good thing, the existence of such laws are part of the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves.
Just like you don’t have to be a VIP in order to tell others what you want, you also don’t have to be handicapped in order to tell others what you want. Quite to the contrary, anyone can communicate the level of directness and honesty that VIPs and the handicapped have both been expected to demonstrate if they were to have their needs and wants met.
That is what honest people have long done — people committed to being honest to themselves and honest to others as well — simply telling others what they want.
The Bible speaks to this courage to utilize this honesty and the rich rewards that such courage and honesty provide. In Matthew 7:7 we find the well-known observation about how life works “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
Sometimes all you have to do is knock on a door to be let through that door.
At the heart of this method is honesty. It is 1.) honestly identifying your own boundaries, 2.) honestly communicating your own boundaries, and 3.) honestly defending your own boundaries.
That is some of the most important honesty that can take place, and an honesty that is often lacking in our contemporary era where we are so often told it is “rude” or “selfish” to tell another person what you want. It is neither. It is honest.
Correspondingly, it is neither rude nor selfish for another person to tell you “No,” in response to your request. They have the right to tell you that they don’t want to comply with your request.
Rather than honesty, what daily life is often full of is passive-aggression.
“Passive-aggressive” is a word thrown around in popular culture, to the point where it’s meaning is approximately: that which I do not like.
Its meaning is far more nuanced and sinister for it is the embodiment in action of deceitful thoughts.
Claudia Zayfert, PhD and Jason C. DeViva, PhD describe passive-aggression in a way that so clearly demonstrates the fundamental deceit underlying it.
“Passive–aggressive behavior is acting aggressively toward a person in a way that makes it hard for them to see our intentions or blame us for the outcome. Someone who is being passive–aggressive may tell a friend she will do something, never really intending to follow through, and then not do it, coming up with an excuse that leaves her blameless. Passive–aggressive people may think, ‘I really want to tell you this, but that would be difficult or uncomfortable, so I’ll tell you something else but then do what I wanted to do in the first place.’
“The attraction of passive–aggressive behavior is that it allows us to meet our needs and ignore the other person’s needs without his knowing. The major drawback is that people often figure out that there is something false about either what the passive–aggressive person is saying or what he’s doing. One patient described passive–aggressive behavior by a friend as ‘smiling while he screwed me.’ Not surprisingly, pas- sive–aggressive behavior often is damaging to relationships.”
Often, people in customer service roles want to give you exactly what you want. You just need to ask for it clearly, ask for it properly, and ask for it nicely.
Allan Stevo’s bestselling book “Face Masks in One Lesson” is a how-to guide on never wearing a face mask again. It takes the reader step-by-step through common scenarios. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, and other bookstores and platforms.