All You Need is Love…Make that 'Time,' Will Ya?
by Jean Marie Johnson
Somewhere in the far recesses of my memory, that old tune plays on. I can thank The Beatles for that. But racing around the country for the past 15 years has me thinking otherwise. And it's about time.
About time that I am thinking differently about time, because with that precious commodity, everything else follows. Think about it: we Westerners have a time fixation, maybe an obsession. I know my husband swears that I do. And Champa, my wise "Indian mother" is fond of noting that Americans have every blessing…except time. I can hardly counter that keen observation given the plethora of time references that run rampant in our culture. Consider this sampling:
- What time is it?
- It's that time already?!
- I don't have time for that.
- I have to find the time to…
- When I have the time I will…
- How much time is this going to take?
- Easy for you to say; you have all the time in the world!
You get the idea. But let's not be too hard on ourselves because then we'd be wasting precious time and energy. I prefer the gentle but mindful quote that a former Communico colleague is quick to share: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." We know this, of course. But in the everyday hurly-burly, hustle and bustle of our days, we need a thoughtful nudge in the right direction… from time to time.
And that got me thinking about MAGIC because it's time to put time on your side.
If your intention is to focus on the quality of your interactions, MAGIC can help.
If your intention is to focus on the quality of your days, MAGIC can help.
If your intention is to focus on the quality of your life, there's MAGIC: the moment by moment expression of positive intention that can define your human experience.
Five steps, thirty-three (yes, 33!) behaviors. And every one of them can save you time while making the best use of time
: yours and your customer’s that is. What makes MAGIC, well, magic
, is that it puts first things first: the human relationship. It then provides you with the skills to sustain a relationship focus while attending to whatever the task, issue or problem may be. And it does one more thing: it circles back to relationship, just where you started.
Here’s something to ponder: How much time could you save in your day if you consciously made a point of connecting with the front desk receptionist, a colleague with a question, a customer on the phone? Connecting with the human first makes us human to the other person. When we do this, we transform what could be a transaction into an interaction. Connecting is transformative. It is a relationship accelerator that allows you to move with ease to task. And that saves time.
Making a connection is about two things:
- Being present
- Paying attention
When you are present to another person, you work from your locus of control by managing yourself, first. You still your physical being and you still your ever-churning mind that is filled with all manner of distraction. How often are we in conversation with someone, nodding our head, acting like we are listening, when all we want them to do is to stop talking. We’ve all done it now and then. Being present means shifting your inner focus from self to other. That makes you ready. Ready to pay attention.
Paying attention to another person is really about giving them the gift of time. YOUR TIME. Rarely do we experience someone shifting their entire focus to us. That's why when we do so, it sends a host of powerful messages:
- I recognize you first as a person
- I care about you
- I am interested in what you are experiencing
And so on. All good. So don't waste time by rushing to the task, and side-stepping the person. Use those first three to twenty seconds to connect. Put down that Blackberry, peel yourself away from that computer screen, and stop fumbling in that purse. Turn to the person; face them. Meet their eyes, smile, greet them with friendly and warm words that acknowledge them. Listen. No, really listen (MAGIC skill number 4)… then speak from your heart with words of empathy that say you hear what is real for them. There, you've done it: you've sent the message that your time is their time. Now that you've connected, you can offer help and ask permission to get the information you need to be of help.
Your customer knows that you "get them," because you’ve given them the gift of your time in the form of being present and paying attention. You have also been courteous and professional in how you relate to them. They are now "with you" in a new way. You can proceed with Getting to the Heart of the Matter because they understand and accept the source of your questions and your genuine concern. You can also Inform and Clarify What You Will Do because you've really understood your customer's situation, why it's significant to him, and how he feels about it. In other words, you’ve already established relationship and connection, so the customer is willing to work with, not against you. Another time saver.
Connecting with a customer and collaborating with him creates a positive climate for both of you. You can feel the ease, the mutual regard and cooperation when a transaction becomes an interaction. And that happens when a conversation is crafted from MAGIC skills. At this point, the ending of the interaction flows naturally. A genuine offer of additional help, a warm expression of appreciation and a sincere goodbye retains the focus on relationship. And that means that the next time you interact with this customer, you are likely to save time because you have invested it wisely… all along the way. You've done something else, too. You’ve shaped your own experience in a positive way by putting time on your side, because "how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
How we choose to use our time can be likened to an equation that looks like this:
The quality of my interactions=the quality of my days=the quality of my life.
Spend some time with your team considering how MAGIC skills can enhance your use of time.
- How well am I managing myself so that I shift my focus from me to the other person? What can I start or stop doing to improve?
- Does my greeting communicate warmth and genuine interest? How welcoming is it? Do my words, tone, pace and visual communicate warmth and sincerity?
- Am I really listening? How well do I "get" the other person’s issue, its significance to them, and how they are feeling about it?
- How comfortable am I rephrasing what I am hearing so that I confirm my understanding of the other person’s meaning? What difference could it make, and how much time could I save if I clarified my understanding?
- Does my close make an investment in relationship or does it sound more like transaction, versus interaction?
- Am I spending my time in a way that contributes to the quality of my days?
Jean Marie Johnson is a Communico facilitator and has helped clients with their MAGIC initiatives. And for 20 years she has specialized in cultivating the customer experience as a key competitive advantage.