Feisty Ambassadors

I recently witnessed a scene that made me think about the value different individuals see in the tasks they handle—individuals whose roles in an organisation make them contact persons for people outside that organisation. They could be gate keepers, receptionists, personal assistants, public spokespersons, traffic controllers, protocol officials, and others too numerous to mention.

They all have one thing in common. Their roles have made them ambassadors of their respective organisations.

On Sunday, I was shocked to see a traffic controller at the Church I attended screaming obscenities at a driver. Whatever offence the driver may have committed, or whatever instruction he may have failed to obey, if any, paled into insignificance at the quantitative verbal barrage he received. The macho traffic controller even threatened to beat up the driver right in front of the Church’s gate. It took the intervention of other traffic controllers and some bystanders, to get a leash on the misbehaving official. Curiously, the driver took the insults calmly, despite later identifying himself as a captain in the Nigerian Army. How easily the incident could have escalated! The traffic controller forgot, or maybe he never even considered that he was an ambassador of the Church.

When we hear the word “ambassador”, the meaning that readily comes to our mind is that of an individual appointed to represent his country in another country. Anything he says or sanctions is assumed to have been approved by his country. No matter the amount of aggravation, an ambassador is to remain calm. Else, his country will be seen as erratically belligerent. He keeps his thoughts private, and ensures that his public speeches and actions would not cause a conflict for his country. The leaked US diplomatic cables have given a clear picture of how ambassadors function.

Virtually everyone is an ambassador, not necessarily of a country, but of an organisation and/or of his/her personality. A protocol official (usher) may receive verbal assaults in the line of duty, but must remain courteous. Anything said or done is linked to the organisation an ambassador represents and gives the public a review of his/her character. The public forms an opinion of an organisation from the behaviour of its ambassadors. Ask any Nigerian about the Police Force.

Everyone gets a “bad day” from time to time. An ambassador must never sign up for Aggression Transfer FC. If you already have a contract with them, please get a smart lawyer to invalidate the contract. As much as possible, personal issues should not be brought to work, especially, if your work involves interacting with people on behalf of your organisation. I believe it is better to request for some time off to gather yourself, rather than to bring your organisation’s name into disrepute.

If you have anger issues, it is time to take responsibility for it, and work to keep your temper under ice. Many persons hide under “that is how I am” to explain their explosive anger. That is plainly passing the buck that evidently lies on their table. Flaring up does not do anyone any good; as words are said and actions executed, that are later regretted. I’m talking from some sad experience. I used to be one of the “naturally angry” types. Now, the temper stays buried under snow in Antarctica. I’ve learnt to remain cool, not because receiving insults is palatable, but because being coolheaded keeps me from having to rack my brain in trying to diffuse an anger-induced situation.

Every ambassador should strive to ensure that one attribute that comes to anyone’s mind when trying to describe him/her is “calmness”. The book of Proverbs advises that a wise person should not be hasty to get angry. Always remember that at every time, you are a representative, and wear that ambassadorial badge with honour.

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