Monday, January 4, 2010

Enjoying the DMV?

I put it off for as long as possible. It is something we all dread. I asked for and got plenty of advice on strategy to make the process as aimless as can be. Get there early. Go mid-week. Bring reading material. Don’t forget any documents. Be flexible.

People like to complain about the DMV. After putting it off for months, I had to get my new CT driver’s license and register the vehicles. It was not nearly as bad as I thought. The reason was simple. Anytime you approach a situation with an open mind and maintain a good attitude, things go fine. The workers generally knew their job. They probably treat customers in direct relation to how they are treated. People in the lines were friendly and were having a shared experience. For those that know me, you can be assured I was interviewing and recruiting talent during the waiting time.

Have you successfully approached a dreaded situation with a good attitude and found a good result?


Crusader AXE said...

It seems to me that the dreaded situation turning out better than expected is pretty normal. We tend to prepare better for the things we expect to be painful; the things we think will be fine, we skip the prep and bad things happen.

Results tend to arise from a combination of preparation, attitude and luck. You control most of the combination if you want to.

Anna Monaco said...

What a great attitude and a smart use of time. Interviewing and recruiting talent while in line at the that is "seizing the opportunity!! Many a great talent can be discovered when you keep your eyes and mind open. Love your outlook on life and all that is available to those that are receptive.

Dave said...

John welcome to CT!
Having lived here for over twenty years I have had my share of DMV experiences.
At one time I did dread going there,
until I learned that it was my attitude that would define my experience. This applies to many other areas of our lives as well.

Randy Bosch said...

Interesting. I have never had a bad experience at any DMV office.
I must confess that I always have entered with a "do unto others..." attitude despite warnings in advance from others. Never trust conventional wisdom.

Now, on the other hand, "we're here from the governemnt..."

David McKee said...

Whenever I approach a dreaded situation, it always goes better if my attitude is good AND I have (As you did) prepared for it up front. That being said, you have never had a "real" DMV experience until you have one in Charlotte NC, or anywhere near Washington DC!!! (I have had the acute displeasure of both).

David T. McKee

Anonymous said...


I must say that I enjoy reading your quips and how you make them relatable to real life. I'm not sure if this was your experience or not, but I too have had a similar "pleasant" experience at the DMV in my native state of NY and in the state of CT. Usually when the dreaded task of going to the DMV starts to creep up, I stack up on the library books, load my iPod with every and anything and bring a laptop determined to finish a 25 page paper as I anticipate being there for a while. But when I only had a 10 minute visit (including my persistent question asking) in NY, I thought possibly this wait time may be experienced again and when it did in CT a year later, I was both struck with awe and hope. Due to my DMV experiences (which I've had a break from for at least a year), I approach usually highly stressful situations with one thought repeated multiple times "I only spent 10 minutes in rush hour in NYC at the DMV. There's always a bright side. I only spent 10 minutes..."

Thanks for the story.

Lisa Moats said...

The ONLY way to approach a dreaded situation in any aspect of life is with a good attitude. Start by envisioning the outcome you want, then move into the situation knowing you will be successful. With this attitude, odds are - you will achieve your goal.

As for personal experiences with the DMV: when my daughter was applying for her very first driver's license, the DMV clerk/rep she happened to receive was simply a blessing. She had a great sense of humor, a smile on her face that would not go away, and an attitude that simply said "I'm here to make a positive impact on your day." She did. I don't think I'll ever forget her.

Ronald Akers said...

I lived in CT about 10 years ago when I got my CT drivers license, I waited 6 months in fear of the never ending line. I have to give them credit, I went through Enfield CT and found them to really have a nice system.
New Hampshire on the other hand, they have some work to do. Everyone was nice but Lets just say that I am glad I can hold a good conversation with the people around me while in line. It made that 2 1/2 hours go by like no time at all.

Try the pleasant approach with the credit card companies, cable companies or any large company with a call center. They are so used to hearing negativity all the time you will really through them off when they hear your appreciative words. In most cases they will go out of their way to help knowing that you appreciate their hard work.

Eric Edwin said...

I generally try to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the task - dreaded or not. This was most recently practiced during the Black Friday shopping experience. Being out with hoards of others trying to get a great deal on a Christmas gift, I took the attitude of just being in the moment. I was not rushed, anxious, or perturbed - - I maintained a tranquil attitude. What I was rewarded with was A) helpful store personnel, B) pleasantries and laughter with folks standing in line to pay, and C) a very pleasant interaction with the checkout clerk.

Was I looking forward to shopping on Black Friday? No! Did I enjoy the experience? Yes! Why? I can only attribute it to having a good attitude going into the situation, while I was in the midst of the activity, and then in reflection afterward (with my wife on the way home).

Try it sometime - I think you will like the results!

Kailas Simha said...

I certainly agree with one thing - you get what you give. Most people reflect what you present. I have found that if you approach a person with a smile and without expectations, you always get a warm response. Most people approach things like DMV with a pre-conceived mind-set, which their body language betrays. And they get what they project. Staying positive is the key - constantly at that.

James Bowen said...

Can't say it was days spent there, but it always seemed like it with large crowds and long waits. We moved to Daytona Beach, FL and getting licenses and registrations there is a pleasure compared to anywhere else we lived. Short waits and people actually working at the counters unlike CT DMV where they have ten counters and two people actually working then one goes on break.

Lisa Madsen said...

I smiled when I read the the initial postings. Recently, I had to go to the dreaded DMV in Wethersfield where I literally spent days camped out in my youth with my parents to renew licenses, registrations, etc... Past experiences were so painful, I have avioded Wethersfield and gone to other satelite locations such as Enfield and formerly the Willimantic location. I was fully prepared for a long painful day. To my surprise, they improved their systems, folks were very friendly, and I was out in about a 1/2 hour during lunch time. Even those in line with me were cheerful. My attitude has now changed and I will risk going to Wethersfield vs Enfield in the future.

Jeff Dean, SPSM said...

Good post John. I have a quote at the bottom of my emails to help remind me of how important attitude is:

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
Charles R. Swindoll

John Bushling said...

Yes. Just a few simple 'rules' if applied will generally make the situation better and defuse many potentially unpleasant experiences:

1) Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. We all know it stinks to be on the receiving end.
2) Please and thank you - both take less than a breath to express but they buy much in the process
3) A sincere smile helps.
4) Remember that the person your are dealing with very likely didn't make the rules they're just the 'messenger' doing their job.
5) Treat yourself well. You can get irritated and nothing changes or try to improve the situation. One way or the other you still have to go to the DMV or similar situation. It's your blood pressure

Alot of it is basic kindergarten kindness. If you follow these simple rules, 99% of the time all will go well. Also, you may be the one person who can make someone else's day. Priceless!

Howard Mann said...

John.... Excellent advice. I find myself watching, learning and sizing up how front line workers (not excluding myself in the observation) handle difficult situations. The trick is to be able to do that when the situation is directly affecting you. I will try to emulate that.


Duane Chandler said...

Good attitude is critical in everything you do, whether work-related, or as in your example, in a setting we typically dread. A positive, cheerful outlook put everyone at ease (both you and them) and people will be more relaxed and willing to cut some slack to the others and generally be more helpful.

Said another way, would you be more willing to help/hire/work with someone who is personable & cheerful or a grouch?

John Morris said...

The first time I went to the DMV in Wethersfield in 1993, my experience was horrible. This was partly because I had never transferred a registration before and lacked some of the documents. When I had to return a few years later, everything went smoothly. I do agree that your attitude towards a situation will influence peoples attitudes towards you. People sense how you feel and adjust their own attitudes. Of course, some people are going to be jerks no matter how you approach them, but most people working at places like the DMV or Post Office are just regular folks who have to deal with a lot of attitude everyday. When you approach them with a smile and a positive attitude, I find most of the time it is returned and the situation becomes much more bearable.

Rolando said...

The older I get the more convinced I am that a good attitude is the most important thing in life. I have seen talented people fail for no other reason than having a bad attitude. It's interesting to see how the kind of attitude one portrays affects the way others treat you and consequently your ability to get things done - amazing things can happen.

Richard Forselius said...

John, I really appreciate your updates. I went to the CT DMV in Bridgeport with an open mind yesterday and was very fortunate...out within an hour. But you have to plan your trip there, middle of the week, have all materials prepared in advance, bring reading material, etc. I wish I was there when you were there!

Kevin Yackel said...


I totally agree that attitude is everything. A good attitude usually leads to good results, and a poor attitude almost certainly destines an unfavorable result. Putting a sales perspective on it, I have found that a positive attitude goes a long way in developing relationships and eventually landing orders.

On the flip side of your post, I was drawn to your comment that "people like to complain about the DMV". Most people have probably had good service at the DMV, but it usually gets overshadowed by that one time someone has a bad experience. Unfortunately it's human nature to complain, and some people even enjoy doing it to an extreme. And to make matters worse, the DMV is one of those things in society that has a infamous reputation that unjustly feeds on itself.

Thanks for the positive reinforcement!

Mary Tucker said...


I absolutely agree with you. Most people respond based on how you treat them. All of us have dealt with both good and bad attitudes, but isn't it better all around if you can make someones day brighter with a smile, a pleasant demeanor, and a Thank You!!
So thanks so much for sharing your story and Have a Wonderful Weekend!!

John Dench said...

My two most recent experiences were at New York City's express DMV location (just west of Penn Station). Both were extraordinarly positive ... the staff was friendly and helpful and my wait times were very short (15 min total from beginning to end). New York has a rather sophisticated operation, but they break it down in short steps so customers can navigate it well.
That said, attitude makes a huge difference ... If you look for the best in others, You will generally find it; and remember, the DMV doesn't get to choose its customer base ......

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