What if you could love your bank when it makes a mistake?

Yesterday I went to settle some accounts for my business online using my bank. Only when I went online I couldn’t access my accounts.  I then rang the bank to find out what happened. I could not reach a person and was told by a voice recording to call back later when they weren’t so busy.

What? I am a customer of this bank. Surely I deserved better customer service. I got a little cranky.  I tried to call again and again. Same response.

So I checked Twitter. Within seconds I learned that my bank was offline not just on the internet but also through it’s EFTPOS network. Ouch.  This apparently had been going on for several hours.  The only thing mentioned by the bank were two tweets saying they were working on the problem.

Then I made the mistake of checking what others were saying. You guessed it. All the other comments were angry, frustrated rants against the bank. No one had a word of compassion, empathy nor care. Not one!!!

This made me stop. Was I not just as low as these others with my internal rant and frustration? Was I not sending out the same energy into the ethers by thinking what they were writing? Of course!

So I stopped. I stopped in my tracks and changed my approach.

Instead I considered that whatever was happening was being worked on by everyone possible in the bank. The bank would not be sitting there twiddling their thumbs saying we might get to this later. There would also be a bit of frustration, blame and anger likely flowing around within the corridors and offices as those in charge tried to get on top of this technical aberation.  

Then I also thought to myself whilst all the technical measures were likely in place something must have happened. And that whilst we rely a lot on technology there are still human beings involved and we are not perfect and sometimes can make mistakes or have errors.  I fired up my empathy and really felt for these people.

To me there was nothing more I could do.  I also needed to shift my energy. So I went for a swim. I planned to swim at some point in the day so why not now. I figured while I was swimming I could take care of myself and get back later to see if the problem was sorted. Sitting around being grumpy or making more phone calls wasn’t going to help the situation.

When I swim I use the time to relax, release any worries or concerns and pseudo meditate. I call it this because there is no other way to describe what I do.  I have an intent when I jump in and then hold this intent in my mind while I swim. Then I have a mantra of sorts about what I want to focus on in my life. I also imagine myself swimming in a place that has really special significance to me.  Lastly I will bring the attention of my breathing into my heart just as I do when I meditate on land.  I focus on the flow of energy in this process whilst just experiencing the pure joy of being in the water. Sounds like a lot for some, but try it sometime.

It is in this state that I will sometimes float (pun intended) thoughts into my awareness that I want answers to.  Yesterday I brought to my attention the above scenario with the bank.  Immediately I had a connection to the entire organisation of people. I could see this entity as a living breathing organism of people coming together to serve me and all the other customers. Sure they are also there making a nice profit for shareholders. But ultimately they do exist for us.  Then I saw their humanity. I imagined what it would feel like to be there. I realised that if I were in their place I would simply want support.  So this is what I did.  I chose in that moment to send support. I know it’s just a thought, but from me at that time it was a powerful one. I imagined myself sending lots of love from my heart to each and every person in this bank. I imagined everyone feeling this love and being buffered from the onslaught of anger and frustration being sent their way from so many.  I swam a few laps simply holding this intent and sending this energy from my heart.

I did not do this so I could feel good. I did it because it intuitively felt like the right thing to do in the moment. I also wanted to consciously shift my attention to a constructive way to support the situation.

As I reflect further on this today I realise how easy it is for us now to jump at people, criticise, complain.  I know because I did this initially. I wasn’t as angry but I certainly was frustrated.  In hindsight it is so much more powerful for me to focus on how I can help support rather than hinder. You see my anger and frustration wasn’t helping. Nor was the amount directed at this company.

I also see that in hindsight we can reflect on not what went wrong but how to focus on creating measures in the future so this does not happen again.  Just like human beings learn through their mistakes so do organisations made of human beings.  Perhaps going forward they can improve their communication response. Perhaps they can create a more improved disaster recovery plan. The list is endless. The improvement or better outcome though would not eventuate without the mistake.

I appreciate as well how many people were affected - businesses, individuals etc.  I also wonder how these people could have experienced their day if they instead of getting angry said ‘oh so this is happening, what can I do instead’.  Or asked ‘how can we work around the situation until it’s fixed.”  I wonder too if the error were caused by a natural disaster whether we would have had the same response.  As soon as their is interruption in our expectations we want to blame and complain.

So going forward I am taking my learning with me. I am remembering that when something isn’t working that it is my responsibilty and my choice in how I respond. I am also remembering that on the other end is a person like me who is trying to do their job and may benefit from encouragement and help rather than a tirade of anger.

Jenn Shallvey