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Being the Best Agent Possible: Perspective

This quote by Abraham Lincoln is a favorite of mine - and perhaps is a good fit for the role of a contact center agent: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” 

As you know, the life of an agent can be a tough one…. Dealing with unhappy (and sometimes unreasonable) customers and redundant work that is often not fully appreciated. But I believe that it can also be rewarding work and a time to learn skills that you can use throughout your career (and life).  I have been in the industry more than 30 years and many of the skills I learned on the phones are the same ones I use to navigate life – dealing with unhappy customers; working on a team; providing good customer service – all are important. 

But, just like Mr. Lincoln, I find that my perspective has the most impact on the outcome of the situation.  Think of it this way – what does the little voice in your head tell you?  If you attack life with the right perspective, your will problems will become smaller and solutions will become easier.  What do you see, the rose or the thorns?

Check out this list and see which one fits your perspective:

  • Thorn: Wow, I’ve never done this before – this is going to be hard!
  • Rose: This is gonna be cool - I love learning new things!


  • Thorn: This new process is ridiculous – and I don’t think it will work!
  • Rose:  This is different, I guess I just need to figure out how to approach it from a new angle.


  • Thorn: Why do things always change in this job?
  • Rose: I know one thing, there is never a dull moment in this job!


  • Thorn: No one ever tells me anything!
  • Rose: I seem to be missing important information a lot – I need to get my manager to help me figure out why.

Basically it all comes down to your lens on life – your perspective.  If you happen to be one of those people that see the thorns, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight.  You will have to work at it.  But begin by analyzing that little voice in your head.

Recently, after a particular tough day, I was walking down the street in New York City thinking about all the negatives of the day (the little voice was very active).  I walked past a tiny little lady that looked to be in her late 70’s.  She was sitting on a suitcase in a worn coat.  She asked me if I would like to buy a pen.  I said no and just kept walking.  As I walked toward the next corner, I thought about what it might be like to be in that situation so I turned around and walked back.  I reached into my wallet and handed her a $5 bill.  I told her to keep the pen but she insisted I take it.  Then she looked down at the bill in her hand.  She quickly stood-up and reached out and hugged me.  And at that moment my perspective changed.  My perspective of just how good my life really is was changed by the hug of a person on the street. 

Abraham Lincoln was right – it is all about perspective.  What will you choose to see today – roses or thorns?  Which voice will win?

Want more tips for being the best agent possible?  Check out the other posts in this series:

  • Being the Best Agent Possible: Attitude
  • Being the Best Agent Possible: Readiness
  • Being the Best Agent Possible: Coaching