There are at least half a dozen dry cleaners within a 5 minute drive from my home. Like bank branches in my town, there seem to be one or two on every other block.
I’ve been with the dry cleaner we’re using now for a few years. Their work is fine but not really distinguishable from the others.
And all dry cleaners seem to charge within a few pennies of each other.
Still, the thought of finding a new cleaner crossed my mind last week. A day after I picked up laundered shirts, I discovered one that wasn’t mine.
I sighed and told my wife I’d be switching cleaners.
She told me that when she had dropped off that batch, there was a group of older-looking students helping. They looked like they were getting vocational training and may have made the mistake.
Well, I couldn’t just fire that cleaner after hearing that. So, I brought the stray shirt back and explained that I must have one of my own missing.
I had no idea which one… but a plain white dress shirt would be a good guess. (Yes, I’m a wild man.)
Tish was the lady who came out from the back to help me. I expected a, “Well, we’ll keep an eye out for it” answer. Instead, you would have sworn I told her that they had misplaced my child.
She apologized profusely and immediately pulled up the number on the tag of the shirt I returned. She identified who it was for and figured they had mine.
I told her that I wasn’t in a hurry. She assured me she’d let me know within 24 hours. I chuckled and said, “Okay,” not really worried about it.
But bright and early the next morning, Tish called my cellphone. I could practically hear the smile on her face as she told me she had my shirt. She offered to have it dropped off to me if necessary.
I told her there was no rush and I’d pick it up later. She again apologized, sincerely thanked me for my business, and wished me a “beautiful day”.
I actually got off of the phone with a smile on my face. What began as a frustrating incident ended with my having a higher opinion of that business than before the negative experience ever happened.
Customers will bring you problems this week. (And it’s quite possible that none will actually be your fault.)
The manner in which you take on those problems and the urgency and empathy you display when doing so will make a bigger impression with them than any marketing ever has.
We had one of our too-infrequent family movie nights last weekend. That’s a night that all electronics are shut off, the house is darkened, the speakers on the TV are turned up, and we all flop down in the living room to watch a movie.
It’s not that the effort isn’t made frequently. It’s just that there are few movies we all care to see.
But “Saving Mr. Banks” was released on DVD, and we had a consensus. My wife and I like pretty much anything associated with Disney, and Mary Poppins practically played on a continual loop in my home when my sons were younger.
The movie didn’t disappoint us. It checked all of the boxes: well-acted, funny, moving, etc.
In a nutshell, the story accounts how difficult it was for Walt Disney to get P.L. Travers to agree to let him turn Mary Poppins into a Disney movie. It was twenty years of courting, finally culminating in meetings that were comically non-productive.
Travers was an intensely serious person with a seeming disdain for all things Disney.
She initially wouldn’t approve any of the now-famous dialogue or songs that we know today. She was beyond difficult to work with and impossible to please.
Disney’s script writers and musical team had gotten to the point of accepting it was just not to be.
It was a subdued scene that I’m guessing many folks would find unremarkable that stuck in my mind. Disney (Tom Hanks) explains to one of his team members that he understood Travers (Emma Thompson).
He tells of how at a time when he didn’t have a nickel to his name, a wealthy magnate pressured him, wanting to buy the rights to Mickey Mouse.
But he wouldn’t do it. “The Mouse” meant too much to him, and he couldn’t bear to lose him. That, he explained, was why Travers was so hard to deal with.
She couldn’t let go of something that felt like family to her. She was difficult, but he understood.
To me, it was a great piece of management advice inserted into a family movie.
Sure, some people can seem illogically difficult.
But there are often underlying reasons that, if we understand them, can help us transform behaviors. At the least, maybe we can recognize the reasons and work productively with (or around) them while doing so.
Can you place yourself in your own antagonists’ shoes today? It may not be easy.
But more productive relationships just may bloom from it.