A retail job, with its long hours and regular physical exertion, can be tough to handle. Despite the challenge, jobs in retail teach valuable skills that are transferable to almost every other job you'll hold in your lifetime.
An Education in Patience
Retail workers learn quickly how to be patient in the face of endless frustration. A retail job forces you to interact with a wide spectrum of personalities. Some customers test your patience to its breaking point. Others ask endless questions and refuse to buy anything. Still others leave items scattered around the store for you to find and replace. Each of these customers is a lesson in patience and professionalism. Since a retail worker cannot scold a customer, you learn how to manage your emotions and stay cool in difficult situations.
The patience you acquire from a retail job will serve you well in any other profession. Whether you're dealing with a gossipy colleague or a client who changes his mind every other day, you'll be able to smile and manage the situation calmly.
Practical Experience in Active Communication
A retail job is a practical education in active communication. With some customers, you must ask a series of questions to get to the heart of the problem — and then come up with a solution on the fly to keep the customer happy. Others require you to read their mood and tailor your responses accordingly. After all, busy, rushed people do not often want to stop and chat about the weather or a local sports team. Over time, you learn to be an active, adaptable communicator.
The ability to watch customers carefully, pick up small verbal or non-verbal cues and time your responses accordingly is valuable in all jobs. It can help you understand clients' needs quickly, de-escalate a tense situation between colleagues and help you create truly effective solutions. A retail position in your work history indicates that you have experience communicating effectively with people from all walks of life — a valuable skill for any professional, particularly in a global economy.
The Importance of Positivity
Many retail businesses require their employees to operate on the principle of "service with a smile." No matter what your mood or personal circumstances, a retail job requires that you put it aside to serve the customer. Though a retail position might not be the most illustrious part of your work history, the ability to put on a happy face might help extend your life and boost your productivity. According to Forbes magazine, people who stay positive in the face of adversity are healthier than those with a pessimistic outlook. In fact, some studies have found that positive people have stronger immune systems than negative people. What's more, positivity can help you improve performance and profits over the course of your career.
Though a retail job can be challenging and often thankless, it is an on-the-ground education in the skills you will need for the rest of your career. Rather than glossing over retail experience in later years, you can use the lessons you learned to get farther and perform effectively.
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