Recently, my son (under 4 years old) got upset and I wasn’t sure why. I asked and his response was because I ripped a piece of a plastic bag. In that moment a ton of ideas became clear to me about what’s important, engagement and the world as a whole.
From my perspective, I was trying to help him save a piece of candy for tomorrow and putting it in a napkin would mean the candy would be garbage.
From his perspective, I had damaged the most important thing to him at that point in time, the plastic bag that was holding the rest of his candy.
What became clear to me is the asymmetry that exists in every transaction. Virtually everyone is in a constant state of waiting for someone or something. Whether it’s a vendor, partner, customer, there is always something (or someone) we are waiting on to accomplish a task or reach a goal we have.
- A hungry patron waiting for a server to bring food.
- The partner at a law firm waiting for a client to send them, or approve, a document.
- The client of the attorney waiting for an opinion.
- A patient waiting for a doctor.
- A doctor waiting on a tool for a patient.
What’s interesting is the importance or asymmetry of importance to each person.
Let me translate that from nerd to english.
- When we go to the Dr with a problem, we care and are more invested in having the problem solved than the Dr is.
- We may care more than others on our team about how clean the office is.
- We may think being punctual is critical to impressions… or not.
The customer we are serving almost always cares more about the service than we do.
The customer we are serving almost always cares more about the service than we do. Remembering that and understanding that before we respond or speak to our customers can make all the difference in their day and as a result a big impact on how they feel about us, our organization and our solution.
In short… there will always be some difference in interpretation at any moment as to how important something is.
Assuming you don’t work in an emergency room, where things can be truly life and death… though most often are not we have a luxury. That luxury is to treat people the way we would want to be treated ourselves.
The power to not multitask and focus on peoples issues like they matter, because they do.