Negative is the new positive

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, as we continue to cope with it changing our normal lives forever, it’s that being negative is the new positive. Not only am I referring to staying safe and clear from the COVID-19 virus infection, but how we have been struggling with stress and anxiety in the new normal that causes us to feel miserable and sad. Losing your long-held job or only source of income, the sudden death of a loved one, or simply being left with no choice but to face your personal issues on your own. These have become more common, and regardless of social status, whether rich or poor, we all have had our bouts with unpleasant experiences or unhappy episodes that somehow kept us feeling down.

We’d be quick to say “You’ll get over it, just be positive!” something that I’m actually guilty of doing. But this is the toxic positivity that might do more harm than help. Of course, there are benefits to being an optimist and maintaining a positive mindset. However, toxic positivity wants us to ignore or reject difficult emotions in the pretense of a happy and joyful life.

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Spilling the spiels

Most call it script, others call it dummy dialogue, I used to call it calibrated interaction, but now it’s commonly referred to simply as spiels, what contact center professionals use as either guide for managing calls or workflow to simulate calls and come up with the most productive information exchange, with the aim of providing the best possible call experience, for both ends.

Spiels can be in the form of questions and responses for specific call situations, sometimes printed (like a story script) or part of a training manual, or integrated into the CRM applications and call management software, a lot of times remaining unchanged or standard, tweaked only as the need arises.

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The daily huddle versus the pandemic

MRT ride during the pandemic by CC Lozano

Grateful to have landed a job last year after months of search in the midst of the global pandemic and I have since been working full time. By that, I mean physically going to and fro my office on weekdays as the work-from-home arrangement is not a viable and practicable option in the new company I’m working with. With prior experience working remotely, albeit a short stint, I thought remote work wasn’t for me having spent most of my career on business operations or “where the action is” and well, I was actually missing the usual face-to-face work routine or what I call the daily huddle.

So yes, while everyone seems to want to work at home, I went versus the new normal and have been braving the daily drive or commute to work while still under the pandemic. All’s well so far but that’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups. And especially now that we’ve been struggling for over a year now and have yet to recover from the recurring quarantines, with the new COVID-19 variants crossing borders, delays in vaccine availability and inoculation, and the soaring numbers in new cases. You’re crazy to want to go outside!

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Million dollar theory of happiness

We know him as the genius behind the theory of relativity and awarded the coveted Nobel prize for physics, but thanks to a handwritten note he left for a bellboy, that fetched US$1.6 million at an auction in Jerusalem in 2017, Albert Einstein seems to have espoused another theory, though short, this time about happiness.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

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Celebrating Easter at home

Embracing the beautiful sunset by the bay by CC Lozano

Today’s the second year in a row that we’re celebrating Easter Sunday locked down at home. I’m not complaining though. We’re not exactly devout Catholics but before this pandemic, my family would’ve attended an anticipated mass already, to avoid the crowd and also because it has been our practice to stay at home on Sundays. Nothing of that egg hunting sort, just a festive lunch and dinner with the whole family at home. So this year will be no different, just happy to have food at the table to share, celebrating in silent prayer. “He has risen!” and we continue to be hopeful even in these trying times.

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Be the better person

Angels in a fountain by CC Lozano

Not sure who authored this short quote: “Be the better person.” I’ve been hearing this line from my wife and have been using it since in almost all difficult situations I get myself in. You would think it’s part of a checklist of sorts from a self-help book but actually, it’s not. People usually react negatively to certain situations and this 4-word quote can be a helpful reminder to tackle situations differently. You’d think this quote encourages your superiority complex or that you’re a far, better person than say a co-worker, well it doesn’t.

It’s easy to get caught up in being the one trying to please everyone else. But being the better person starts with treating others with genuine kindness. It means to allow yourself to have more time to think about the opportunity to turn things around and work on better outcomes from even the most confrontational situations.

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Being the “alay” or tribute of the family

Queueing during the pandemic lockdown by CC Lozano

It was mid-March of 2020 when the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was announced in Metro Manila. Days prior to the announcement I was nervously busy going out and about to prep up for the stay-at-home restrictions. Aside from ensuring we have enough supply of alcohol, disinfectant, and face masks, which by then were hard to find and with unbelievably high prices, I went out to stock up on food and a mix of things I thought we’ll need while locked down. I bought a new laptop, a printer, paper supplies, four walkie-talkies, a digital blood pressure monitor, extension cords, and sacks of dog food.

Much like in the movie The Hunger Games, being the head of the family, I was the “alay” or tribute. At the time, most barangays were closed or barricaded from outsiders to prevent the alarming spread of the virus. Entry and exit points were guarded and strictly monitored. And there’s only one in each household to be issued an all-day quarantine pass, which will allow you to go out either for work if you’re a frontliner or to get essentials. In my case I was the latter going out to buy my family’s day-to-day needs.

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My job search during the pandemic

Walking in solitude at the mall during the pandemic by CC Lozano

I was on an auto walkway minding my own business when out of the blue my mind sort of went on a throwback of how my job search journey was at the height of the pandemic. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park but it sure was an unforgettable misadventure. February 2020 would have been the usual love month celebration but turned out to be a prelude to the scariest months of quarantine and lockdown. I recall people already wearing face masks that at the time were already becoming scarce and expensive coming from January that saw the Taal Volcano eruption lasting several days, with the ashfall even reaching cities in Metro Manila including Caloocan where we live. I was already rendering my final weeks at my former job of almost 15 years, both excited and apprehensive. Back then I thought I was ready, thankful for the many years of professional experience, curious and hopeful that I was seasoned enough to move to a new and relevant role. Like me and so many others praying for better days, nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19 finally being declared a global pandemic and changing our career prospects forever.

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