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Pitfalls to Avoid
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Navy Customer Service Manual
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Failing to Communicate
You  should  be  careful  not  to  reflect  negative attitudes  through  your  behavior  toward  the  customer. The  following  are  some  examples  of  such  behavior: You may reflect your attitude toward a specific rating by your lack of interest in a problem of a member  of  the  rating. You  may  reflect  your  view  of  yourself  as intellectually or educationally superior in the way you to talk down to the customer. You may reflect your aversion to touching by placing a pen on the counter rather than handing it directly to the person. (Have you ever wiped your hand on your trouser leg after shaking hands with  someone?) STEREOTYPING Stereotyping  is  forming  a  standardized,  over- simplified mental picture of members of a group. We attribute fixed or general traits to all members of that group—disregarding  individual,  distinguishing  qualities or traits. Stereotypes can be based on traits such as sex, race, religion, nationality, length of hair, or even dress. We form mental pictures of people, things, and events based on the traits of that group to which they belong. Stereotyping eliminates the need for us to know a person as an individual. It allows us to conveniently place a person in a group. Based on the traits we attribute to that group, we then believe we know all about that person. Placing the person in a group implies that the person has the same characteristics as everyone else in that group or category. That in itself is bad enough, but placing the person in a category you regard as inferior is  even  more  offensive. Don’t  confuse  stereotyping  with  the  practice  of using  personality  and  physical  characteristics  as memory aids. Many people rely on these to recall facts about individuals (name, occupation, etc.). The following illustration points out the difference between a mental picture that is a valid aid to com- munication  and  one  that  is  an  unwarranted  stereotype. Mental pictures are important because they are a quick way of conveying messages, but you must be sure they really fit the individual before you apply them. 3-7

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