Tag Archives: listening

Don’t Treat Them to Ham Sandwiches

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 16, 2012

Don’t Treat Them to Ham Sandwiches

                    Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. 

                                                                                 Mark 8:23

 “Welcome to McDonalds,” the young man said, “may I take your order?”

“You bet,” my sister’s husband, Sean, said.

The voice on the drive-through intercom replied: “Fire when ready; shoot to kill.”

They laughed at the unexpected reply, and were still chuckling when they pulled up to the take-out window. The restaurant manager, however, stood scowling with his arms folded across his chest. He loomed over a scrawny teen who meekly apologized, “I’m sorry I said ‘Fire when ready; shoot to kill.'”

“Please, don’t apologize,” my sister Mary protested, “we thought it was hilarious!”

But the manager was having none of it. The success of a franchise lies in consistency. You can’t afford to let free spirits slip the leash.

 

Scripted responses (“Would you like fries with that?”) may be necessary for a franchise restaurant to succeed, but we dislike being treated impersonally. Ever call a large company with a question or a complaint? The call service employee types up a decision-tree script on a computer and rattles off the appropriate scripted response.

Management prefers this cost-saving approach. But customers feel like they’re talking to a lawn ornament. It’s even more de-humanizing for the workers. The annual turnover rate at call centers is almost 100 percent.

One company, however, came up with the wacky idea of treating customers personably. After two weeks of introductory training, they offer new recruits $3000 to walk away from their job. They only want workers who want to be there. Employees are encouraged to decorate their work space any way they want. They’re trained to be adventurous, creative, fun, and a little weird. They ask how their customers are doing, about their plans for the upcoming holiday. If the customer isn’t doing well, the call service employee sends flowers. No scripts. Just treat the customer like a person.

 

Jesus’ approach to people was never scripted. No canned speeches; no cookie-cutter approach. When he encountered a Roman captain who viewed verbal orders as a sign of power, Jesus healed the captain’s servant by issuing verbal orders. When he met a blind man, he took him by the hand and led him out of the village. Jesus was always keenly aware of each person’s situation. When he miraculously fed over 5000 Jews, he didn’t treat them to ham sandwiches.

When Jesus sees you . . .

We visited a church in Missoula this last Sunday. The woman greeter welcomed us and patted me on the back. Later, I noticed that when she sang, she moved her hands — as if she was molding the words. “Now I get it,” I thought, “a kinesthetic learner.”

Normally, I miss these opportunities and mumble for the rest of the day about what I should’ve done. I’m not the touchy-feely type, but on the way out of church, I saw her, thanked her for being a good greeter . . . and patted her on the back.

                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Hey, Who Has the Talking Stick?

Story of the Day for Wednesday April 25, 2012

Hey, Who Has the Talking Stick?

                     If you don’t consult others, plans fail. But with many advisors they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22

In 1906, the livestock fair at Plymouth, in Devon, England accepted wagers on the weight of a butchered ox. About 800 fairgoers placed a bet.

Sir Francis Galton was a brilliant statistician, but was an elitist. He believed most people were incompetent to have a say in political affairs. Because most of those who wagered on the weight of the ox were neither farmers not butchers, he believed the uninformed crowd would guess wildly off the mark — and he was almost right.

Many who made wagers were nowhere near the actual weight of the ox. When the wagering was over, the ox was put on the scale and weighed in at 1198 pounds. Galton took all 800 wagers and averaged their guesses. He was stunned to discover, however, that the statistical mean of all the guesses came to . . . 1197 pounds.

When Native American tribes faced important decisions, their leaders would gather for a council. They began by smoking the calumet. They relaxed, passed the pipe, and established a common bond. When various tribes gathered together, a chief from one tribe would speak. When he finished, the council was over for the day. The next chief would not speak until the others had a day to mull over the words of the first chief.

When some tribes held their own councils, they fashioned a talking stick. Often, an eagle feather was attached to the stick to symbolize the courage to speak truthfully, along with rabbit fur to remind them to speak from the heart. No one was ever allowed to interrupt the one holding the talking stick. By passing the talking stick to every member of the council, everyone viewpoint was heard, and everyone learned to listen carefully to each person’s viewpoint.

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you may be itching for me to hand you the talking stick. And you probably have some excellent points to make.

“Marty, pointing out that the statistical regression to the mean helps a crowd to accurately guess a cow’s weight is not . . .”

“I think it was an ox, actually.”

“Hey, who has the talking stick?”

“Sorry.”

“A group’s ability to accurately estimate the weight of an ox is far different from a group’s ability to discover theological truths by consensus. You can’t discover whether God loves you by taking a vote.”

“Excellent point. When others share their opinion they may well be wrong. But, all the same, we’re never harmed by listening thoughtfully to what they have to say.”

“I still haven’t given you back the talking stick.”

“Oops.”

                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Schmedsel, Pretzel…What?”

Story of the Day for Thursday March 1, 2012

“Schmedsel, Pretzel….What?”

                Without consultation, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

                                            Proverbs 15:22

In the 1950s, the Ford Motor Company had high hopes for the new model car they developed.

They hired the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Marianne Moore to suggest a name for the car. She created a dazzling list that included: “The Intelligent Whale,” “The Mongoose Civique,” the “Andante con Moto,” “The Pastelogram,” and “The Utopian Turtletop.” In the end, however, Ernest Breech, chairing a meeting in the absence of the company president, Henry Ford II, decided to name the car after his boss’s father.

Unfortunately, Henry Ford II’s dad was Edsel, which sounded funny to the public. Later, when Ford’s David Wallace sent market analysts to ask people on the street what “immediate associations” they made with “Edsel,” they responded with: “Schmedsel,” “Pretzel,” “Weasel,” – and most disturbing of all, 40% responded with: “What?”

Ford insiders, who knew and admired Edsel Ford, thought the name was perfect. PR director, C. Gayle Warnock, however, disagreed. When he learned of the name of the new car he left a one-sentence memo on his boss’s desk: “We have just lost 200,000 sales.”

The ad campaign, costing $250 million (in the 1950s), raised consumer expectations to a high pitch with their “car of the decade.” In October, 1957, CBS replaced The Ed Sullivan Show with a live broadcast of The Edsel Show. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, and Bob Hope were among the guest stars. During rehearsal, when Rosemary Clooney practiced walking up to her purple Edsel and opening the door, the door handle fell off.

When the car was unveiled to the public, they hated it. “Edsel” sounded like a silly name for a car. Ford’s marketing campaign called their new car unusually graceful, but the public though it was ugly. One man described the garish “horse collar” grill as looking “like a Mercury sucking on a lemon.”

The U.S. was in a recession and the public wanted smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The Edsel was more expensive than comparable cars and, among gas guzzlers, was exceptionally thirsty.

 

High confidence and success are almost always attended by a disinterest in listening to the opinions of others. To be attentive to the spiritual counsel of others doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with their advice. It simply means we consider the viewpoints of everyone seriously, because everyone has something to teach us.

In the end, it’s more important for us to grow wise from the counsel of others, than to think we’re brilliant in our own eyes.

 

If you ever find yourself struggling with this concept, ask the makers of the Edsel for their reflections.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Learn To Listen Intently

Story of the Day for Saturday September 17, 2011

Learn To Listen Intently

                   I waited for you to speak. I listened to your thoughts as you searched for words. I gave you my full attention.

                                                                  Job 32:11-12

 William Osler (pronounced “OH – sler”) is one of the most influential physicians in history, but few – apart from the medical community – know him.

He is called the “Father of modern medicine,” and for good reason. He was one of the “Big Four” founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He created the first residency program. In England he was knighted for his medical achievements.

 

Osler was obsessed with paying careful attention to the little things. When he served as medical professor at Oxford University, he lectured his students – stressing the vital importance of paying attention to details. Careful observation, he told them, was the key to accurate diagnosis of a patient’s ailment.

A diabetic’s urine, Osler pointed out, often had sugar in it. The professor then displayed a bottle of urine, dipped his finger into the bottle, and brought his hand to his mouth to taste the urine. Passing the bottle around the room, he asked the students to do what he had just done.

The students dutifully participated in the unpleasant task – knowing that if they paid careful attention, they might taste the sugar in the urine. After the student’s had finished their exercise, Osler said, “Now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details, because had you really been watching, you would have seen that I put my index finger into the urine . . . but my middle finger into my mouth.”

 

Today, any licensed doctor must first serve a residency under a supervising physician. But Sir William Osler was the first physician to establish the practice. He was adamant about the need for academic study, but even more passionate about spending time with the patient, and listening patiently to them.

“He who studies medicine without books,” he said, “sails an uncharted sea. But he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.” Osler was the first to drag his students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training.

The only epitaph Osler wanted on his tombstone was that he took his students to be with patients at their bedside.

 

Osler originally wanted to become a pastor, but I’m glad that God led him into medicine. Yet, oddly enough, he brings us a spiritual message. First, you learn to pay attention to your teacher (and note which finger he sticks in the urine bottle!), and then you learn to listen intently to those you seek to serve.

I was taught to learn theology, and then to give the world a canned speech. William Osler has reminded me that – yes – I should begin by learning, by paying attention to my Teacher. But, then, it’s better to take time to listen carefully to those who are hurting. The more I learn to listen; the more I’ll have something worth saying.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Schmedsel, Pretzel….What?”

Story of the Day for Thursday June 23, 2011

 “Schmedsel, Pretzel….What?”

 

               Without consultation, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. 

                                                       Proverbs 15:22

 In the 1950s, the Ford Motor Company had high hopes for the new model car they developed.

They hired the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Marianne Moore to suggest a name for the car. She created a dazzling list that included: “The Intelligent Whale,” “The Mongoose Civique,” the “Andante con Moto,” “The Pastelogram,” and “The Utopian Turtletop.” In the end, however, Ernest Breech, chairing a meeting in the absence of the company president, Henry Ford II, decided to name the car after his boss’s father.

Unfortunately, Henry Ford II’s dad was Edsel, which sounded funny to the public. Later, when Ford’s David Wallace sent market analysts to ask people on the street what “immediate associations” they made with “Edsel,” they responded with: “Schmedsel,” “Pretzel,” “Weasel,” – and most disturbing of all, 40% responded with: “What?”

Ford insiders, who knew and admired Edsel Ford, thought the name was perfect. PR director, C. Gayle Warnock, however, disagreed. When he learned of the name of the new car he left a one-sentence memo on his boss’s desk: “We have just lost 200,000 sales.”

The ad campaign, costing $250 million (in the 1950s), raised consumer expectations to a high pitch with their “car of the decade.” In October, 1957, CBS replaced The Ed Sullivan Show with a live broadcast of The Edsel Show. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, and Bob Hope were among the guest stars. During rehearsal, when Rosemary Clooney practiced walking up to her purple Edsel and opening the door, the door handle fell off.

When the car was unveiled to the public, they hated it. “Edsel” sounded like a silly name for a car. Ford’s marketing campaign called their new car unusually graceful, but the public though it was ugly. One man described the garish “horse collar” grill as looking “like a Mercury sucking on a lemon.”

The U.S. was in a recession and the public wanted smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The Edsel was more expensive than comparable cars and, among gas guzzlers, was exceptionally thirsty.

 

High confidence and success are almost always attended by a disinterest in listening to the opinions of others. To be attentive to the spiritual counsel of others doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with their advice. It simply means we consider the viewpoints of everyone seriously, because everyone has something to teach us.

In the end, it’s more important for us to grow wise from the counsel of others, than to think we’re brilliant in our own eyes.

 

If you ever find yourself struggling with this concept, ask the makers of the Edsel for their reflections.

                                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)