Tag Archives: Prescription for Excellence

Listen, with Respect – and Don’t Forget Empathy

 “To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more that just their ideas get heard.  It’s a sign of respect.  It makes people feel valued.”  (Deborah Tannen).
Listening is an essential and underutilized service behavior…  Every day you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with staff members and customers by listening to them and helping them see the power that comes from “knowing” their customer.   
Joseph Michelli, Prescription for Excellence


It starts here – with listening.  All customer service, all business interaction, requires the attention given by you to the person on the other end of the interaction.  And that starts with listening.

And there are some very physical aspects of listening.  For example, where are you pointing your face, especially your eyeballs.  I use the word “eyeballs” on purpose.  The words “eye contact” seem to no longer be strong enough.  So how about this:  “eyeball to eyeball contact.” 

So, if you point your eyeballs at the eyeballs of the other person, you have a much better chance of actually listening to them.  Here are some places to not point your eyeballs when you should be listening to a person:

At your iPhone
At your computer
At someone else walking by
At a book or a magazine

Or anywhere else – except the person you are listening to…

And then, to genuinely listen, when the other person is talking, you actually listen to what he/she says, both the words and the body language.  You do not take the time while someone else is talking to “figure out what you are going to say next.”  You listen to the other person, and then, after a pause, it is your turn to speak.  You pay attention to that other person, and then you respond to that person.

Listening may be the ultimate sign of respect.  And everything else flows from good listening moments.

(And, remember – it might be even more valuable to remember to listen with “empathy”).

Why Do Companies Fail? – Some hints from Megan McArdle

So, why do companies fail?  A lot of them do, you know.  And more will fail – some of them fairly soon.  I don’t know which ones, and I don’t know all the whys, but there will be companies fail…

In this the Atlantic article, Why Companies Fail: GM’s stock price has sunk by a third since its IPO. Why is corporate turnaround so difficult and rare? The answer is often culture—the hardest thing of all to change, Megan McArdle tackles the question.  Here are a couple of quotes with insightful hints:

All seem to agree on one thing: most companies wait far too long to even recognize that they have a problem.
Change is risky, after all, since it definitionally involves doing something that isn’t already working—and even product lines that have grown lackluster still have some customers.

Here are two valuable hints:

Hint #1 – failure to acknowledge reality; failure to acknowledge “we have a problem.”  This is a universal!  Political parties have this blindness; football team owners have this blindness.  And, I suspect you and I have this blindness.  To see a problem early requires paying great attention to reality, and most of us are a little afraid of taking such an honest look at reality.

Hint #2 – focusing on my “long-term customers” while ignoring the need to find “my next customer.”

This reminds me of this excellent counsel from the UCLA Health Care system (from Joseph Michelli, Presecription for Excellence):

“No matter how good we are today, it isn’t good enough.  Everything we do must be of the highest quality, and we have to be in a relentless pursuit of constant quality assessment and enhancement.  I am pleased with where we are today…  However, each day I think about one thing:  what can I do as a leader to make sure that our quality of care is the best it can possibly be – you guessed it – for our next patient?”  (Dr. David Feinberg, CEO, UCLA Health System)
Create the quality experience for your most important customer – the next one.

So, to avoid failure, (to succeed!), it might help to be honest about problems, and to keep looking for that next customer.