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I (M, 25) work in a call center and I usually enjoy it. However the last few weeks have been particularly bad and I feel like I really need help. The issue is when clients call up and shout at me for things that I have no control over. To make things harder, my partner, who is one of my sources of stability, is currently interstate visiting family. I'm feeling quite isolated.
I understand the concept of displacement. They are stressed in the moment and they don't have the skillset to manage that stress without lashing out. However, intellectualizing this verbal harassment doesn't stop my heart from palpitating and my hands from shaking when I'm in the moment. Then I just ruminate about it for hours. And this rumination is effecting my sleep (it is currently midnight and I have work tomorrow).
To cope with it I have found myself drinking more than I normally do. I am fully aware of the danger of it, but sometimes I have around ten standard drinks a night to numb my anger and anxiousness. Since my partner is gone I am using it to fill the void, plus with them around I drink much, much less so they won't worry about me (my dad was an alcoholic and I inherited his addictive personality).
During my spare time at home I am still mentally at work so I'm not really getting adequate rest (and not getting paid overtime). I'm getting burnt out. I don't know what I'm looking for with this post, it would be great to have some guidance, but maybe just posting this will help me get something out of my system.
Sounds like your work environment is really tough, and I can certainly understand the negative impact the constant verbal abuse is having on you. I think it’s really smart of you to reach out now for support given the risks associated with you continuing to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.
I’m betting that you are not the only person working in the call centre who is struggling to cope with the verbal abuse. I wonder if it would help to talk to some of your colleagues about how they manage? It’s also okay to speak with your manager and ask for help to develop strategies to assist you.
Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide you with a safe workplace and to mitigate health and safety risks to you. I would ask them what they can do to help … perhaps there is a transfer option to a non-call taking role? Or, a way to transfer particularly abusive calls to a supervisor? Or, perhaps an additional break could be provided to you to enable you time to recover after difficult interactions?
You know your workplace best, have a think about what could help you and work in your environment.
It also might pay to think about a career change. Unemployment is really low right now and there are many industries crying out for workers. Who knows, you just mind find the job of your dreams waiting for you.
Kind thoughts to you
I know exactly what you are going through! I spent around 6/7 years in a high volume call centre for a large ISP dealing with angry customers with issues outside of my control. It hurts! it really does. You try not to take it personally but its hard not to.
Have a chat with your manager and see if there's any strategies you can develop in dealing with these customers. Dont be afraid to speak up!
Building on that - Hang up on the customers. I would accept swearing and getting angry at the situation but I would not tolerate getting personally abused. I would give them 1 warning when they were directly abusing me and if they kept going I would say something like "customer, I warned you and you keep abusing me - I am terminating the call". I would not care at all, then I would take a quick walk to calm down.
Laugh about it with your work mates. I used to do this all the time and it helps!
Remember - you get to leave at the end of the day! Get into the mindset of as soon as you walk out those doors - its not your problem! Get into a sport/hobbies to take your mind off it.
I too used to drink alot to get through it, It tends to make things worse. Talk to someone about this! psych, partner, mates etc! Keeping this bottled up is very bad for you (I did this)
As summer rose mentioned - its a job seekers dream out there at the moment!
all the best mate.