Refusing to be provoked by people and events around you is a skill. You can train yourself in it.
Exasperated that I was not understood and that my sage counsel was not heeded, I gave the agent a very firm dressing down. I was sharp and critical – though I did not raise my voice – and communicated my intense displeasure. The agent, a lady, refused to react. She merely said that we must go to the next step. Which was to check the device’s specs on the online, browser interface. I protested again because I did not want to go through a tech process. The agent just repeated the same line she had just said. I said I was not convinced. She did not show any sign of irritation over my rigid stance. She just repeated herself. I gave up protesting, gave in and followed her instructions to check the device’s specs online. We drew a blank there too as the online browser interface said that the SIM card wasn’t inserted in the device – whereas it pretty much was lodged in it! At this point I told the lady, rather rabidly, that she must own up if there was a network issue in my area and not lead me on a wild goose chase. She simply said that she would have to send a technician over to my place. When I said I needed this support now, today, before 12 noon, she calmly replied saying that she cannot see it happening for the next 4 days given the weekend and the list of pending calls in my areas. I tried telling her in no uncertain terms that she was being very unhelpful, very cold and unempathetic. She didn’t react. She simply gave me my service ticket number and asked me if I had any more queries. I told her I was very dissatisfied with the call and the support she had offered. She merely repeated if I had any more queries. I thanked her brusquely and hung up.
After the call, I sat at my desk for a full 5 minutes just meditating on the conversation and the experience. On the face of it, this lady may appear to be a lousy customer support agent. But my meditation helped me glean and takeaway some important learnings. Logically, theoretically, she wasn’t at fault personally for my woes. She could have sounded irritated or defensive as I riled against her. Yet she was unmoved. There was intense provocation with my irritability, my tone and my resistance to follow her technical support process. But she succumbed to none of that. She was clinical in not reacting. Perhaps she was very well trained to handle irate customers. Perhaps she is an evolved person who separates emotions from actions or responses. Perhaps she is so used to handling such thankless work that she has become immune to any provocation. And that’s exactly my learning.
Through this agent this morning, I relearnt an art. Which is the art of being unmoved in the face of provocation. Think about it. Almost all the time we are reacting to people, situations and emotions. In a given day, we have so many different reasons to be provoked. If we react to each stimuli, we are expending so much energy. We are generating so much negativity within us with each reaction – cursing someone who cuts our way on the road, trying to battle a colleague who sets up obstacles in critical processes at work, reasoning with a spouse who refuses to understand, catering to every whim of a very demanding child, coping hopelessly with a painful health issue and whatever else. Equanimity is not rocket science. It is a skill. You can train yourself in it. Just as you can train yourself to cook, to swim, to sing or to drive. It involves training the mind to be responsive and not reactive. A mind that has been trained will be aware. It will weigh each thought, each action before letting it move on. Awareness helps conserve positive energy, insulates you from negativity and helps you remain calm despite the circumstances or provocations.
At the end of the 5 minute meditation, I sent a prayer out for the agent. As a customer of Airtel I surely feel short-changed. But as a fellow voyager through Life, I feel enriched. So I sent a prayer in gratitude to the agent for the opportunity to relearn an art form and for helping me along in protecting my inner peace.