I was the substitute pharmacist at John’s store because his partner Leo was on vacation. As I was watching John’s interaction with 78-year-old Gladys disintegrate into a shouting match, I was relieved when pharmacy technician Monica told me to let John know (when he was done with Gladys) that his wife was on line 2.
I quickly walked over and told John that his wife was waiting on the phone and that I would take care of his situation with Gladys. When John got off the phone, he wondered aloud: “Where did Mrs. Tomczak go?”
“Oh, she’s gone. I fixed her up.”
“Did she bite your head off as well?” John asked in a confused tone.
“Are you kidding? She is super sweet! Did you know that she is heading to a bridge tournament? I guess she is a master player.”
“Wait, how in the…I mean …here she jumps down my throat…wait, what? I mean…how did you…?”
“Oh, I started with one simple sentence: ‘Don’t worry Mrs. Tomczak, I’ll make sure you get your medicine right away!’. From there, it was a piece of cake.”
“All I was trying to do was explain to her the steps we had to take to get her prescription approved, and she jumps down my throat, that’s not even fair!” John blurted out in a sort of jealous tone.
“I noticed you did that even after she said: ‘I cannot go without my heart pills’. Why did you feel the need to go into such an oratory about all the things that you had to do to get her prescription filled anyway?”
“Well, the customer has the right to know what is involved in the process…” he answered confidently.
“Oh shut up, I’ve been working with people since you were five years old! Why did you REALLY do it?” I said in my best joking voice, although I wasn’t joking.
“Well, … I guess I wanted to let her know why the process was taking so much time?”
“Strike two!” I said setting him up for the punch line.
“Ok, you’re such a genius, you tell me!” he demanded; obviously getting a little irritated with me.
“You did it because you wanted to hear those two guys!” I said with a smile.
“What?!? What two guys?”
“You know, like in a King Arthur movie where the two guys come out with those cool trumpets that go ‘Ta Ta Ta Ta’. You wanted to hear those two guys!”
He was stunned so I continued.
“Listen, John, it’s deep in our DNA to want recognition for our efforts. It’s called the EGO. Here’s the hang-up with that, the customer always has TWO problems: The original problem, and their fear that the problem cannot or will not be solved. Gladys telegraphed that to you loud and clear, and you just blew past it.”
“Are you trying to say that I’m full of myself?” he stated with a piercing stare.
“Oh no, I just think we all want to develop a reputation as a person who can get things done, and we believe that by ‘sharing’ all of the things we have to do to accomplish a given task, it will somehow enhance that reputation.
The reality is that it detracts from it. Your ‘speech’ makes people either scared (as in Gladys’ case) that it is too complicated for you, or it sends the message that you are put out by having to deal with their problem. Just like you did when you blew it with Missy.”
“Missy? What are you talking about now?”
“Earlier this morning when Missy asked you if she could leave early Thursday night, because she wants to watch her daughter’s school play, you should have said: ‘Sure!’. Instead, you said she could go, but you went on to tell her how it would make the night harder for you. You actually told her that you would ‘get by’ anyway.”
“I DID THAT?” he squeaked out ashamedly.
“Those two guys didn’t show up then either did they?” I asked with a concerned smile.
“What do you suggest then?” he wondered, knowing full well that I had his number.
“Easy, if you want to develop a reputation as a guy who gets things done, just get to work getting things done. Take the story that the EGO wants to tell, and just mentally ‘unhook it’ the way one would a railroad caboose. This technique will take time and practice, but your train will run much faster once you master it.”
He looked at me, shook his head, and then walked over and said to Missy: “I’m so sorry if I made it sound like…”
I was so proud of him!
The EGO works awfully hard to tell its story, doesn’t it?
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