Here’s a life lesson, people: be nice.
I spent twelve years working in the world of college financial aid. As you can imagine, I encountered a lot of angry, upset and frustrated students and parents. And I can sympathizeâ€” student loans are a volatile and complicated subject that brings out the worst in people.
However, the people I spent the most time with and bent over backwards to help? The ones who were nice. The ones who didn’t start yelling at me, or demanding that I fix something I couldn’t fix, or telling me something was my fault.
There was the guy who studied abroad in Australia. Processing student loans for students at international universities was infinitely more complicated than it was for the student down the street, but this kid and his parents were patient, persistent and nice. So nice, in fact, that I spent money out of my own pocket to buy an international calling card so I could call the kid in Australia to get additional information, because the bank’s phone system wouldn’t allow international phone calls.
The kid got his loan money; he was grateful and appreciative. His parents were so grateful and appreciative that they brought me flowers at my office.
A few weeks ago, I called the hospital to schedule my pre-admission appointment for the eventual birth of our child. Of course, most of the available appointments were during weekdays. I’ve already missed a lot of work for doctor’s appointments, so the nurse tried to find an appointment time as late in the day as possible.
All of a sudden, she said “well, since you’re being so kind…how about if we schedule it for Saturday instead.” She already had another appointment scheduled that day, and she was willing to come in 30 minutes early to accommodate us. Since I was being nice.
These are just two examples; I could give you a hundred more. Just know that when you send someone an email telling them how awful they are at their job, or yell at them on the phone about how you’re entitled to something you’re probably not really entitled to, it doesn’t give that person an incentive to do anything to help you.
And on that note, I’m very grateful that I no longer work in the crazy world of student loans.