No lines, no waiting. Just a quick blood draw for that annual event.
Smiles behind masks and a friendly greeting.
Sign in and I get to keep the pen.
“Which arm do you prefer? And is there a vein they typically use?”
I offered my left arm and pointed out the visible vein on my inside elbow.
“Oh, that’s the easy one, but I prefer to use another one. It is on the outside and a little harder to find, but there are less nerves there so you will experience less pain afterwards. It’s a little harder for me. But this isn’t about me, it’s about making you have a good experience.”
As the blood flowed into those tubes with little to no pain, I learned a little more about this Phlebotomist. This was not Amy’s first career.
Hospitality, bartending, and customer service built her foundation. She spoke about how these skills shaped her perspective and how she does her Phlebotomist job now. The lessons simply flowed from her conversation.
Customer Service Lessons from Amy the Phlebotomist:
It is not about you.
It may be more effort on your part.
It is about making and/or creating a good experience for your customers.
What a great reminder to close out this year and start the new year fresh. Imagine the difference when we make these small efforts that create a better experience for our customers, our coworkers, our family, our friends, and others around us.
Who’s ready to apply these lessons today?
Here’s to applying Amy the Phlebotomist’s lessons in the year to come!
“This could have been better.” – I should have been better.
“It didn’t turnout the way I expected.” – I didn’t do a good enough job.
“I am disappointed in the results.” – I failed.
During a conversation with a friend I noticed a pattern. Whenever they talked about something they achieved, it was immediately followed by reasons why it didn’t either go as planned, or why it could have been better.
This pattern applied to all achievements, big or small.
Released something big and creative into the world? It was not the right time and it could have been better, and it wasn’t perfect, and it had “wrong notes.”
Connected with and helped someone else? It really didn’t go as planned and didn’t really provide any value, it perhaps even wasted their time.
It was as if every time they tried to build a small reminder of their achievement, something would come right behind them and start tearing it down.
They couldn’t take a moment to savor achieving anything, without experiencing a loss. As I spoke it out (despite sounding rhyming and goofy) it rang true.
“You don’t seem to be able to experience any achieving without experiencing a loss, almost like you are grieving at the same time of what could have been, or should have been.
Achieving and Grieving.
Patterns are so easy to recognize…in others.
As a reflected, I experience the same pattern. Trying to celebrate, only to be frustrated and sad when things do not turn out “good enough.”
Some of the grieving of what could have been is easy to shake off, other times it seems to linger in my mind. One particular example has stayed with me longer than I thought.
A little more than a year ago, I got to run a race with one of my kids. I trained hard and was ready. We started off and everything felt good. We joked and chatted. Shortly after the halfway mark, I stared to slow my pace. Something was wrong. During the last few miles I couldn’t keep going and had to walk.
They were totally patient with me and we did a run/walk combination to finally finish. We got our medals and went to the celebration party afterwards.
As I look back, the grieving completely took over any chance of being able to celebrate the achieving. This grieving would find its way into my mind during other runs, and I found myself walking again. The grieving from a prior event kept invading the present.
Unfortunately, the Achieving and Grieving pattern is not exclusive to running.
That presentation that didn’t seem to connect with everyone.
That proposal that was only partially accepted.
The [insert your achievement here] that [insert your grieving here].
Realizing my own Achieving and Grieving pattern was a great first step. Often I failed to celebrate the achievements along this journey because they are viewed through this cloudy lens of grief.
It is time to clean this lens.
It won’t be easy but I am practicing a new pattern.
I am working to separate the Achieving from the Grieving.
When I achieve something, no matter how small, I pause to recognize it.
And since my mind seems to want a second step, I am replacing the Grieving with Appreciating.
Appreciating the work involved in the project.
Appreciating the creativity in that new idea.
Appreciating writing (this blog) again.
Appreciating these 50 year old legs that will still carry me for miles.
Let’s experiment together.
For the next 30 days, let’s try this new pattern: Achieving and Appreciating.
I had the privilege of talking this out with them.
They explained the barriers. The things that prevent them from speaking up.
They explained the stress of finding not only the right words, but any words in the moment.
They explained about the constant overthinking and assigning motive.
They explained the constant reminders of the past.
“What is a way forward? What does finding your voice mean here? Where can you start?”
We talked about value, worth, and standing up and speaking up.
They agreed to try again. To set aside those events and triggers, and find their voice.
It wasn’t going to be easy, but the way forward would begin with looking for the next opportunity, pausing in the moment, and finding their voice despite the barriers. They were practicing, even in our conversation as the words poured out.
A few days later I got a message. The opportunity arrived. They found their voice and spoke up.
Despite the fear, and the anxiety, and all of the stuff that could get in the way, they took the leap and expressed their need.
They found their voice – AND – the organization responded!
The perceived barriers were not really our there in the organization, but created an internal barrier. These barriers were an historical lens that was not clearing seeing the present or the opportunities of today and future days.
How has the past, the prior interactions, and the triggers created internal barriers that silenced your voice?
How does finding your voice look moving forward?
How can you remember you worth and value to the organization and express what you need?
We are rooting for you, and look forward to hearing about how the organization, the person, the group, or the universe responds when you speak up!
He was the second tow truck driver that day. (We learned about turnpike authority, State Police and tow truck jurisdiction that day, but that is another story.)
We talked and asked him a few questions. Questions about the job, what he likes, what he doesn’t like.
We learned that most people are so upset when their cars break down, that they are mean and rude to the tow truck driver (the very person there to come to the rescue). We learned that the work is long (12 hour shifts) and is a little boring. We learned which cars get towed a lot, and which ones never get towed – except for accidents.
But then things shifted.
Chris began to ask us questions.
Where were we going? What did we do? What type of program were we presenting? Will we still be able to make it there in time?
Chris, and his questions continued.
How did we get into this line of work? What was it like getting started? Did it take a lot of money, effort, or time? How did we create content?
His questions showed he was listening. He would reflect on our responses, wait for each of us to speak, then follow up with additional questions. Sometimes going back to one of our original answers and asking a follow up or asking how it connected to the new idea or response.
He asked about our clients, how we find them (or how they find us) and how we market ourselves, and our competition.
He was more interested and attentive than many people in our own circles. As consultants and coaches, we are used to asking the questions, we are used to teaching people how to coach and listen and ask questions. We are not used to this type of attentive behavior.
It was amazing.
Being listened to and heard is something that feels special when it happens. There are so many ways to be distracted today, especially during a conversation. We half listen while doing other things, and often we “keep it light” and never really talk to people about the deeper things.
Ironically we were on our way to teach about Coaching and how to listen and ask questions as a coach.
Thanks to Chris, we now have a new standard as coaches on how to listen and ask questions.
We want to strive to be Tow Truck Driver Attentive.
Tow Truck Driver Attentive: to become the kind of coaches (and people) who listen well, ask questions and display genuine curiosity and interest in those around you.
For the next week, try to be Tow Truck Driver Attentive to those around you. In your various circles, listen and ask questions. Follow up and be curious. You may find or learn something new and make those around feel important and special.
Thanks for the example Chris.
You showed us a little magic on an otherwise stressful and tough day.
They have barriers to receiving appreciation. Fear, Ego, and that damn Narrator.
How do we show sincere appreciation? How do we satisfy the need?
Try these three simple steps.
Tell them what they did.
Explain the positive impact it had.
What does this sound like?
“Mary, I wanted to let you know that the report you created for that customer was very helpful. They were confused, and you brought clarity. They went from hesitant to signing with us. Thank you for your hard work, your ability to simplify issues for the customers is very helpful, I am so glad you are here on the team.”
“Bill, I noticed last night that after the long day at work you spent time with the kids helping with their homework. Your patience and ability to explain the homework in more concrete terms helped them “get it.” Thank you for the sacrifice and for giving them the gift of your time, especially when you are tired.”
Jessica, thank you for taking out the trash as well as the recycling. Since your sister has been away at school, you have had to take on a few more responsibilities around the house. Your taking initiative to pick up these chores has helped us all with the new workload around the house. Thank you for pitching in and helping, it makes a real difference. Want to go get some ice cream?“
Sincere appreciation helps them know they are seen.
Sincere appreciation helps them know their work makes a difference.
Three simple steps. Now we just need to act.
Try it out and let us all know how it goes.
And to help lead the way, I am going first.
Dear Readers of this work. You read, view, comment, share, and like this blog and have been doing so for years. Your participation has made me feel like I not only have a voice in this space, but can make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you so much for reading this, especially with all the choices you have out there. Your words of encouragement or even a “like” helps me break through my own narration that I shouldn’t keep doing this. Thank you for being here.