In the pursuit of performing the technical functions of our jobs well, I see a common mistake of homogenizing our personalities; allow me to relate my own recent story of this to you for example of what may actually occur:
As I have continued to work more hours in my career as a bartender, further pushing myself into allowing it to consume my life, I found an inability to expose much of myself to those people around me, be they co-workers or guests. Still holding myself to high standards of “service”, I learned to turn off those parts of my personality which could expose me to possible negativity – creating what my close friends have branded “BarBot”.
A consummate service industry professional, BarBot has programs and subroutines for just about every imaginable situation – lifelike smiling and laughing, efficiency of movement geared towards drink production, adaptive subroutines for stress-inducing situations, and much more… For anyone who does not know me personally, BarBot is a stunningly realistic representation of a real person.
My realization of the potential problem of BarBot (the generic service-industry personality) came during a recently stressful time when my friend and barmate Steve requested something seemingly simple of me: He wanted to work with Brian that Thursday, not BarBot.
Powering down the service-industry machine proved more difficult than I might have imagined; I certainly made technical mistakes, and very well may have slightly offended a number of guests without ever having intended to. Plainly speaking, I had become unpracticed at being myself while also providing service to others.
Here’s the kicker, though: By the end of the evening, I had created and furthered real relationships with both a number of my guests AND strengthened my friendship with Steve, all at the minor cost of making a number of minor technical mistakes. In my mind, this is a mutually beneficial trade-off – and I’ve been putting real efforts into turning off the Bot in each shift since then.
I would love to see more people as a whole turning off BarBot, or ServerBot, or any other ProfessionBot, to take the real, somewhat scary chance at creating genuine relationships with those that they interact with on a regular basis.
I implore, please take a look at what you’re doing in the same way that I was asked to: If you’re giving stock answers, constantly repeating yourself in your words and actions, go ahead and turn off the Bot for a few minutes, allow yourself to make mistakes, and, just maybe, come out with a few stronger friendships because of it. Until next time,