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Think Before You Speak?

During orientation for a club I recently joined, another new member raised their hand to ask a question. The session leader responded with “The answer is yes; now, what is the question?” That’s a tough standard to live up to.  As many of you know, Sanjay and I have grown our company through building relationships. I found that to be an awesome answer, especially in customer service. And yet what really happens when we automatically say “Yes” to things? What happens when we don’t? I wondered.

This week I was “trolling” folks for what was on their minds and a friend told me about a situation that was not at all like the session leaders’ response.  It seemed insane to me and the complete opposite of how we like to approach things – the opposite of “Yes”. So, of course, I suggested she write about it.

One of my mom’s favorite reminders was to “Think before you speak.” (This usually followed the request to “pick up your room”, but that is a whole different story!)  Back then, I didn’t think much about this advice, it was just another thing my mom said.  Lately I’ve heard enough comments ranging from silly to outrageous (and everything in between) that I’ve started to see the wisdom in this reminder.

Giving thought to what you want to say and how to say it doesn’t mean you can’t say what’s on your mind.  It does, though, help you communicate thoughtfully and intelligently.  I know this sounds like a rant, but when Vijay asked me what was on my mind this week, I had just experienced the perfect example. Along the way, it seems that we have forgotten this important advice.

Yesterday, on a project call with a large audience, I raised a question about customer impact. The leader responded that customer service impact wasn’t the workstream’s job but that she would “do me a favor” and raise the issue elsewhere.  Let’s think about this for a minute: when you are in a service industry isn’t ensuring positive customer experience everyone’s job? In fact, if customers didn’t have good experiences isn’t it likely that our own jobs may be impacted?  Later that day, a colleague responded to my request to confirm information by suggesting that I ensure everything we provide is read by the recipients.  To my credit, I thought but did not reply that if I could make everyone do what I wanted them to it would indeed be a superpower .

I’m sure if these individuals replayed the conversations, they didn’t really mean that customer service wasn’t their concern.  But the ripple effect of that statement heard by many will live on.  And who wants to be known as the leader that doesn’t care about customer impact?  Not me! The lesson in all of this?  Maybe Mom was onto something—a brief pause to consider a response before providing it can be priceless. Words always matter.

“If you think twice before you speak once, you will speak better for it.” – William Penn

Have a thoughtful weekend.