Being Right Doesn’t Win Friends and Influence Customers

Happier Days

Happier Days

I  just had an argument with my son.  Not the first.  It comes down to a basic difference between what is right and what is wrong.  I’m the parent and so therefore, I am right.  No really.  I am.

But that apparently doesn’t matter as I’m watching him pack his suitcase. He has decided to move out.

The same holds true with our customers. We can be right from morning until night but if that isn’t the perception of the customer, they will also exercise their Two Feet Right.  The right to walk their two feet out of our business and on to the competition.

In both cases, I think we might re-evaluate the importance of stressing how right we are in favor of keeping a relationship with our customers.

And our sons.

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Technology Makes Moments Even More Precious

oh-to-az1I live in Ohio.

My folks live in Arizona.

Google maps indicates that there are 2,065 miles from my door to theirs.  In a good year I might see my folks four or five times.  I love those visits, but it is hard to stay connected with such a great distance.

When I was growing up in the 60s we lived in Ohio and both sets of Grandparents lived in upstate New York.  I can remember my Mother writing long letters every Sunday night.  She and I would finish the dinner dishes and then she’d sit down at the card table in the family room and write letters to both parents while we watched television. 

Now we write long newsy emails and call each other several times during the week.  The conversations are mostly between Mom and I but occasionally my Dad and I talk and on a rare occasion my kids will call and fill my folks in on exciting events in their lives.

Today we took it a step farther.  I gave them a webcam for their MAC for Christmas and this afternoon we sat in our respective homes – cell phones on speaker – setting up their SKYPE account and hooking up the Logitech webcam.  Before too long we were connected.  My kids joined me and we were all live on the screen – seeing each other’s faces – such precious faces – over the computer – for free!

You may have used your webcam to create a vlog or video to upload to YouTube.  And maybe you connect with long distance customers and conduct productive meetings via the Internet.  But have you used it to melt the miles between loved ones?

My Dad was recently in the hospital.  It took five days for the doctors to learn what was ailing him and during that time they insisted that I didn’t need to leave the kids and my business and go to the expense of flying 2,065 miles to see him.  He would be just fine. 

Today, I got to see for myself just how good he looks.  I am thanking God for technology today which provided a precious moment for me; melting the miles and bringing me closer to my family.

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A Parent’s Make or Break Moment

I have two lovely children, Emily is 12 and Ben is 17 and a senior.  They are my reason for breathing.  They are my greatest joy.  They are my Excedrin Headache number 16, 43 and 91.  I love them dearly.

In other words, I am your typical parent.

Well, perhaps not typical.  When Ben was 10 I started writing a tweenager book entitled “Ben and the Smother Mother.”  Guess what my inspiration was?

Everyday, from the moment our kids are born, we are faced with a variety of critical and trivial make or break moments.  I’ve learned that the way to stay sane is to pick those moments.  Sadly, I don’t always pick wisely.  However, tonight, I done good.

My son is taking a really cool class called Contemporary Issues in which a social studies teacher and a language arts teacher provide instruction on one topic from two vantage points.  For the first 9 weeks they have been studying ethnicity and immigration culminating with a community-wide presentation. 

For the class they had to interview family members about their historical migration and then they had to write a paper about some aspect of their own personal history.  Then, as a group, they were to study the history of immigration and put together a multi-media presentation.  Tonight they presented to about 100 family and friends.

As I prepared for the evening, I grabbed my camera.  It was habit.  My child is doing something special therefore it must be documented.  Right?

However, once in the venue I quickly gathered that pulling out the camera would be a B…A…D. move.  It stayed safely in my purse.

At the end of all of the presentations, which were not only impressive but also very informative, the two teachers gave out awards:

Best team project

Best written paper

Now my son has a love of writing -gee, wonder where that came from – in fact he wrote his first novel when he was 13, and he usually shares what he’s written, but I had not been allowed to read this particular piece.

And the award goes to…

MY SON!

He was shocked – I was thrilled and the audience applauded wildly.  (In my mind it was a standing “o” but in reality it was a polite clapping).  My hands itched to reach in my purse as he proudly walked to the center of the stage to receive his recognition.

“Must get to camera” my brain screamed.  “Must have photo memory of this historic moment,” I reasoned. “Someday he’ll want to show his grandchildren,” I told myself.

But instead, I resisted.

A make or break disaster – averted. No grand mother embarrassment.  Just a proud, beaming mom with tears in her eyes clapping for her award winning son.

Do you think he’ll realize the disaster avoided and appreciate my restraint? 

No.  However, I do know that if I’d taken out the camera – the embarrassment would have potentially over shadowed his pleased surprise at being recognized for his work.

Whew.

 

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Make or Break Moment at the Bus Stop

Make or Break Moments happen in all aspects of our lives.  It’s the weekend so I’m going to share a personal moment:  A Parent Moment.

My daughter, Emily, entered middle school this year with all its stress of changing classes, bigger building and locker combination.  She immediately began struggling with remembering the necessary school work at the end of the day and on one occassion; her flute for band class.

Now my daughter loves to play the flute – in fact, it is about the only thing she feels confident about and has worked very hard to achieve the Second Chair in band. (first chair being the spot held by the most talented player)

She faithfully practices for more than an hour each day and although naturally very shy, will gladly play for anyone who asks.

In an effort to teach her responsibility, in light of her forgetfulness, we worked on organizational strategies and finally I said – “That’s it – you are now on your own.  If you forget something, you will just have to suffer the consequences.”

Two days later, at 6:30 am I drove my daughter to the bus stop (we live 1/2 mile from the stop) and as she got out of the car she realized that she’d forgotten her flute. 

She got back in the car and said – you’ll have to take me home and then drive me to school, I’ve forgotten my flute.

I looked at her and said “I’m so sorry, but you’ll just have to go to school without the flute.”

Her blue eyes wide with shock, she quietly left the car, slumped to the bus and was crying by the time she hit her bus seat.

I prayed for her all day, knowing that the consequences for being unprepared in band would be to move to the very last chair in the flute section.

I later learned that she spent the entire day crying and at one point was sent to the counselor for support.  (I’m feeling about as low as I can – BAD MOMMY.)

She came home and said “I will never forget my flute again.”

That was three weeks ago.  Although she continues to play and practice, she remains in LAST CHAIR, everyday living the consequences of that one make or break moment at the bus stop.

However, the story has a really beautiful ending.

Two days ago she came home and shared an experience she had.  Her friend, Rachel, who has band a different period from Emily, forgot her flute.  Emily learned this sad news and went up to Rachel and said:

“I know what it is like to forget your flute.  I’m still last chair.  Why don’t you borrow my flute for 3rd period and just promise to get it back to me at lunch so I have it for my band class.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of my daughter.  In the past three weeks, she has not complained once about being in the last chair.  She continues to practice and work hard at her craft and when given the opportunity to save a friend from a similar fate – she offered to help.

Should I have just gone home and allowed her to get her flute and saved her all of this pain?  Part of me wishes I had.  However, I can see that because of how I handled that moment at the bus stop, my daughter was given the opportunity learn a lesson she’ll never forget.  And when faced with her own opportunity to make a difference – she chose to actively participate in someone else’s life – in a good way.

Do you have a make or break moment that comes to mind with your children?  I’d love to hear about it.

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