Quiet that laugh down a little – or a lot
One of my early roles at L.L.Bean was working the Customer Service desk. I absolutely loved it – made great friends – took pride in being able to snap through a stack of bills with accuracy and efficiency – ship items around the world – replace parts of treasured old ski sets. My customer count was good. Mystery shoppers gave me great ratings. I was riding high – until, that is, I got my performance review.
My supervisor, after reviewing all my numbers, told me that, despite those metrics, she wouldn’t be giving me a 5. Blink. Blink-blink. What?
“Susan, you have an unprofessional laugh. I am giving you a 4 rating. ”If you want to fit the role, your laugh needs to change.” Blink. Blink-blink.
I had heard my laugh described as hearty before – or infectious – but never unprofessional. But I ‘got it.’ I understood what she was saying. It could be a distraction. She was saying I didn’t fit the part – yet. I was up to the acting challenge.
Within a week I had modulated it down a few notches. I thought about just not laughing – and instead saying ‘Hey. That’s funny.” Social bonding would have been out the window with that option. So I found a middle path. A little less Meg Ryan and a little more Mother Theresa. Until, that is, I punched out, took the mask off and headed home.