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.


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  1. Carl says:

    I had never heard that story about your laugh. Wow, that had to cause some real soul searching. Do I conform to the standard, or do I stay honest to myself? The answer depended on so many things. I’m always struck by your awareness of choices and consequences. The simplest things are really quite deep when you analyze them.

    1. SusanAdam says:

      Ohhhh yes. True story. Thanks!!