Who's side are you on, anyway?
At 4 am in the morning, it’s easy to be defensive.
I’m staying at the Kimpton Prescott in SF tonight, and, being unable to switch time zones, I’m awake. Have been for hours.
At 4 am, I went down to the front desk and asked to use the fitness room. When I checked in last night, I was told that the room opened at 6 am, but because the website says:
On-site free 24-hour fitness facility with state of the art cardiovascular equipment, Universal gym ...
They’d make an exception and let me in.
So, early this morning, I presented myself to the night clerk and asked him to let me in.
Now, it would be easy for him to get defensive. He could quote policy at me, point out that he’d worked there two years and had never let anyone in, etc. For a brief moment, I felt the impulse pass through him.
Then he realized that there was a better way, an easier way, a way that didn’t require him to exert negative emotional energy in the middle of the night. He switched sides.
He became an advocate for my cause. He said, “Well, I’ve never done that before, but if that’s what the website said, let’s see if we can make this work.” Notice the “we.”
He called the bellman, explained what we needed. If the bellman pointed out it was impossible, it would be easy for me to trudge upstairs, foiled but not defeated, unexercised but not disrespected.
The good news was that the room was easy to open. The better news is that even though customers (and prospects) can be a real pain in the neck, everyone in the organization that wants customers on a regular basis needs to take a breath and realize that we're always on the same side. The challenge (and the benefit) is in acting that way.