A friend of mine had her first Black Friday shopping experience last week. While the deals were great, she was astonished to see some shoppers running their carts into each other, muttering under their breath if someone was too slow, and fighting over who got their hands on the last “doorbuster” deal. Afterwards she felt drained and frustrated—not a great way to celebrate the holidays, huh?
We can sometimes fall into a mob mentality when we’re doing our holiday shopping. We don’t see others as human beings—just obstacles keeping us from that discounted plasma-screen TV. We treat store employees like our personal butlers and lose our patience when we don’t get our way. We fight over parking spaces and 50%-off sweaters. And rather than taking our time to find thoughtful gifts for our loved ones, we treat the whole experience like a sprint that only makes us more exhausted and stressed out. Is that really what the holidays are about?
To be more civil when you’re doing your holiday shopping this year, follow these tips:
-Go online when you can. Today is Cyber Monday, which means you can get fabulous savings without the drama of hitting the mall. Personally, I like to shop online because I’m less likely to be distracted by other products. Sure, that DVD player may have been a steal at Target, but it’s not such a great deal when you factor in the slippers, magazines, grooming products, and other last-minute items that made their way into your cart.
-Shop with a pal. Split the stress by car pooling to the big stores and taking turns manning the cart. That will leave one of you to roam the aisles freely; bring cell phones to keep track of one another. And while your friend is finalizing her purchases, you can run out to get the car and pick up her and your big shopping haul.
-Be aware of your surroundings. Keep the flow of shopping traffic moving swiftly by avoiding the following actions: taking ages to load your car while hogging a much-desired parking space; blocking a parking space by leaving your shopping cart out instead of putting it back where it belongs; blocking an aisle as a line forms behind you; or waiting until you hear your total before fishing your wallet out of your purse.
-Exercise patience. When you’re stressed, the slightest inconvenience can send you reeling. But don’t let it. If you feel irritated, take a deep breath and calm yourself down. Getting angry or flashing a dirty look can only escalate the situation.
-Be friendly! Don’t be so busy that you can’t hold a door open for someone, say thank you, or smile politely and acknowledge the salespeople who approach you, even if you’re not interested in what they’re offering. It’s better to smile and say “no, thank you” than ignoring them completely.