I had a hardheadedness spell recently that caused me frustration. Eventually, however, I had to laugh at myself and reflect on how the “best” technology does not always mean the best solution.
With too many things squeezed into a weekend visiting family back home, my wife suggested we attend church on Saturday evening. After going through my kneejerk (and useless) whining about changing our plans, I was tasked with finding out what were the Saturday church times.
Not a problem, right? I jumped online and Googled the local church.
Now, the times had been flashing on the church’s digital sign that we drove by minutes earlier. But why would we pay attention when we always have Google, right?
A picture and phone number instantly popped up on my screen, but, hey… who wants to use a phone? I then began clicking around, landed on another site…with the wrong church…, and then back to where I started.
I then found two other sites that also did not have what I was looking for.
I spent a couple of minutes becoming increasingly aggravated at how difficult it was to find something as simple as Saturday church times for a church one mile from us.
And… yes, the absurdity that I may have grumbled some un-churchlike things while searching for church times is not lost on me.
I called out to my wife, “If they can’t make it any easier to find their schedule, they really just don’t care if we go!” (She didn’t like that joke either.)
As a last resort, I finally used the least popular function of a smartphone. I (gasp) called the phone number that had instantly popped up earlier.
A recording of a lovely-sounding woman with a Cajun accent gave their schedule and wished me a nice day. Although initially impatient, I actually smiled.
That “archaic” method of getting the information I wanted was not the most efficient. Yet, in a funny way, it felt more personal. Go figure.
Over time, most of us will be in situations when we (or our companies) may not have the most “cutting edge” technology or processes in our industry.
If we allow ourselves to be defined only by our technology, we will often be at a disadvantage.
Whether in person, on the phone, or even online, customers can sense whether they are truly appreciated - or taken for granted. Make sure your customers know how they rank with you today.
I used one of my favorite half-joking gibes with a person collaborating with me on a project last week. After his polite and detailed critique of something I had done, I kidded, “I think I liked you more back in the days before we were friends.”
When I received my friend’s critique, I initially had the unfortunate reaction many of us have. I figured he simply did not understand the reason I was doing things the way I had chosen.
The problem was not with my work. It was with my poor, confused friend’s inability to recognize my genius!
After a few moments, I realized that my slight annoyance was not because he had criticized my work. I was annoyed because his critique was right.
After a few more moments, I found myself grateful that he was comfortable enough with me to give a few helpful suggestions and that I respected him enough to take them. I also smiled at the way he chose to make the criticism.
He went out of his way to point out how much he liked certain aspects of what I had given him and commented on how in other formats, it would be perfect.
Think about that. It’s about the nicest way of saying, “This is not really what we need…but if we needed this… it would be perfect.”
My friend knows enough about coaching to make sure that the person being coached does not become too defensive to consider the advice. I jokingly told him I recognized his ham-handed manner of protecting my ego… and appreciated it.
In the end, we were both far more pleased with my next effort. Fighting off the initial desire to argue with my friend’s “coaching” - and listening to it instead - led to a happier result for all.
Whether on the giving or receiving end of coaching, remember that simply being accurate in an analysis does not guarantee a productive effort. We complex things called humans are involved.
Strive to make the people you coach know that you also see the things they are doing well.
If most of what a person ever hears from their “coach” is only what they are doing incorrectly… that person soon tunes the message (and messenger) out.
That is not a suggestion that people need coddling in order to be coached. Coaching must be based on honest assessments.
However, folks are far more willing to actually listen to people they trust see not only their shortfalls but their strengths, as well.