We Teach You How To Survive An Awful Retail Job

Since working in retail can be one of the most anxiety-inducing and stressful experiences of your life, we teach you how to survive an awful retail job and maintain sanity.

As a part of your retail job, you will often face angry customers who were accidentally wrong, sometimes blaming you for the error. You will be required to help people who look down on you for unfair reasons simply because you work in the service industry.

There will be days when you’ll fantasize about tossing your name tag in the trash and walking out with what little pride you have left. It will take every ounce of your rationality to keep going and convince yourself that, in the end, all the trials will be worth it.

Knowing how to overcome the many obstacles that retail workers face is more than half the battle. If you go in with a focused plan, having already assessed each situation and the possible outcomes, sour mood swings and possibly even tears can be handled in an eloquent manner on your part.

Expressing courtesy is not only proper etiquette, but works to sharpen your customer service skills and maintain clarity during chaos or confusion. If you’ve ever wondered how to survive an awful retail job, keep on reading.

Take advantage of breaks at your retail job

Young happy female reading good news on her mobile phone while sitting in modern coffee shop interior

No matter how busy you are with your task list or a line of customers, it is vital to your well-being to take your scheduled breaks when you need them. Whether to step outside to inhale some fresh air, eat an energy-boosting snack or just rest in the break room, using that allotted time to relax or to reassess your day can help to calm your nerves and relieve some stress.

If you are struggling to get through a particularly difficult shift, don’t be afraid to ask your manager for additional breaks so that you are able to work at a productive pace.

A quick phone call to your favorite supportive contact, a few sips of water or a couple of moments to recollect your thoughts can make all the difference in your attitude and turn a seemingly bad day into a positive work experience.

Don’t take everything so personally

One of the greatest lessons to learn in the service industry eventually is to separate yourself emotionally from the uncontrollable aspects of the job. Letting negative situations deeply effect you will not do anything other than leave you mentally drained and dreading your next shift.

Ingrain into your head the inevitable factors that will always be a part of the job. After a period of time, you will most likely be called every insult in the book, blamed for a host of things you had nothing to do with and be passive-aggressively accused of some type of incompetence.

Understanding the nature of these insults will help you handle every criticism, mistake or difficult task with professional confidence and an acquired grace as your customer service skills continue to improve.

Keep in mind that there are some people who just cannot be pleased despite your best efforts, and if they decide to single you out as their latest victim, it should not be taken personally.

Become friends with your retail job colleagues

Young people working at cafe

Having a familiar face you can laugh with or vent to can be a comforting way to soothe many work-related anxieties. If you happen to work with a larger group of people, chances are that you will click with at least one person there.

Being as friendly as possible will naturally attract more coworkers and allow you to connect and bond with those with whom you are compatible. Open up and see what happens; you never know when or where you could meet your next best friend.

Forget about your retail job after working hours

After a rough shift, it might be hard to turn off your racing thoughts as you replay certain scenarios in your head over and over again. Making a conscience effort to leave work at work and thoroughly enjoy your time on your days off can prevent much unneeded stress.

Reflect on your work to manifest your thoughts into positive learning experiences that will lead to your overall growth instead of feeding negativity and dwelling on mishaps and regrets.

You won’t be working at your retail job forever

Smiling waitress giving paper bag to customer at coffee shop

Developing simple mantras like “It’s just a job, I can get through this”, helps to keep the bigger picture in mind and should remind you that this current period does not dictate the outcome of your entire life. Reassure yourself that with every shift that is completed, you are one step closer to your goals and dreams.

Even if you sometimes feel unhappy or even spiteful towards your job, try to make the best of everything while you can. You certainly won’t regret establishing a few contacts and soaking up as much experience as you possibly can to absorb as many benefits as possible.

Try something new

There is a reason why retail positions have such high turnover rates. If you find yourself miserable to the point where you feel as though you can’t handle your job any longer, don’t force yourself to stay. Apply for a transfer or interview for another job altogether to find the fit you can tolerate until your future career plans take off.

Sometimes either the slight differences or the stark changes of an improved work environment, a closer commute or a better management team can make all the difference in the world, especially for those who are more sensitive or anxious. Never be afraid to go after a new goal as life is too short otherwise.

Have you ever worked in a retail position? If so, share your best methods for surviving a hard shift.

About the author


A twenty-something Virgo who lives in a world of lush forests and coffee drip clouds, Jordan loves tending to her succulent garden and emerging herself in dreamy fairy tales. She spends most of her productive days writing endlessly and studying for school.

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