Yesterday I was having lunch in the break room at work, when one of my co-workers came back to the break room, arms full, he was also on his lunch break and had just run out to grab some food. On his way back through the store, a client had flagged him down, even though it was more than obvious he was off the clock, and wanted his help. My co-worker very politely pointed out the obvious and told the client he would get someone for her right away, to which her response was to huff and act hugely inconvenienced. The icing on the cake was, after my co-worker, whom I know to be one of the kindest, most gracious, people I’ve ever known, got someone for her, she acted as though she’d been treated very poorly. She proceeded to ask her oh-so pressing question that took all of 2 seconds to answer and had at that point been in our store, literally, 3 minutes.

This put some finishing touches on a subject that I’ve been rolling around in my brain for a while now…

I’m a good client, not because I work in retail and have dealt with more than my fair share of difficult clients, not because I go exclusively to places that offer exceptional client service  I’m a good client because I care about being a lady. Call me old fashioned if you’d like, but I think by and large our culture has forgotten what it means to be a lady. Women today want to be respected, they want to be taken seriously, they also want to be pampered and treated like they are somebody. I see it all of the time at work. My store is a specialty store, we carry exclusively high-end lines and to be frank everything is expensive by most standards. Before I ever worked for my company, when I would shop there, I always was sure to be dressed nicely because I wanted to be recognized as the type of person who shops in a place like that.

I assist women everyday who are doing this same thing, they want to be recognized as a woman who is used to luxury and as someone with class, but what class is and does has somehow been lost in translation. Being demanding, self-focused, insisting on perfection, doesn’t make you look like a lady, it makes you look like a bitch. And the problem I have  with that is, at this point, society has made a celebrity out of being a bitch. Case in point, Bridzilla, The Real Housewives of (insert a county, any county), Keeping Up With The Kardashians…

When I think of being a lady, the words grace, poise, and intelligence come to mind. This are attributes work very hard at developing in my own life, and I’ll admit, come by at a limp. I can be hopelessly clumsy at times and while I try really hard to be poised, I’ll get excited about what I’m talking about and end up telling my 12 year old client, in front of her very attractive father that learning proper makeup application is all about practice and that while I’m alone at home I sit in front of a mirror and play with myself. Yup. That’s me. At work my managers are always saying, “control what you can control”, so while sometimes I my stumble over my own feet, or over my words, and have to practice to become graceful and poised in those areas, what I can control is how I treat others. I believe this one area speaks much more deeply of a personals character than the previous two.

Being a lady is harder than being a bitch, (which, I assume, is why we see fewer and fewer of them) because being a lady requires being a person of quality, rather than a person who demands quality. Real ladies expect the best of the people around them, but have also developed within themselves the ability to be forgiving when that expectation isn’t met. It’s a beautiful kind of selflessness because in order to exude that kind of forgiving behavior you have to be sensitive to needs other than your own. Maybe you really needed your coffee to be perfectly made, but considering for a moment that the person who made it wrong could have a sick child they’re thinking about, or is extremely stressed out, or perhaps is just human and deciding to be gracious about it is much more flattering than throwing a fit about it. It’s also an attitude that tends to bring the best out of people.

My point in all of this is just to say, if you want to be respected, if you want to be considered a person of class and of a certain quality, take a moment to consider how you’re treating others, instead of caring so much about how they are treating you.