Tag Archives: respect

what do you expect

garbage cans at ballparkYou are going to talk to some people this week who aren’t completely upbeat.

Some of them are just being cranky. They probably should be scolded.

One of them, however, just finished her first weak of chemo (an intentional typo). One of them found out he was losing his job the day he came back to work after his dad’s funeral, two days before another funeral. One of them has a world that seems to be collapsing on every front. One of them found out her grandson died suddenly. One of them is fighting depression and winning, but life feels very stretched out.

I know. We have every right to expect excellent service. After all, we’re paying for it (unless, of course, it’s free). We have every right to expect people to deliver on their promises, to be consistent, to be perfect, to deliver.

But behind the technology tools, behind the broken doors, behind the apparently carefully built brand, are people, not shiny objects or garbage cans.

We have every responsibility to expect people to be people.



The late Jon Swanson

“You’re late!”

“I was born late!”

I was, in fact. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I was born two weeks after the due date. And for the past fifty years, I haven’t done much to catch up. I am consistently late.

Today I finally realized that I am highly skilled at being late. I can arrive  5-10 minutes late to almost any appointment, any meeting. Regardless of the distance to the meeting, regardless of the time of day, I can hit that 5 minute window with remarkable precision.

I realized this while traveling to a mentoring appointment, to which I arrived 10 minutes late. I also realized why I was realizing it. I am talking with this friend about life management, as a spiritual director of sorts. And to be helpful that way, there must be some personal integrity. And showing up late consistently lacks integrity.

I also realized it because I am looking at deliberate practice, at seeking to improve the weakest points of what I am good at. I am reasonably good at conversations. A weak point is starting them late. So I need to work on that particular skill.

My friend Kay helped me sort the problem through a bit:

Here’s why she’s right, at least for me.

I often show up late, I explain,  because someone catches me with a question on my way out the door, or I need to grab something from the printer, or I need to grab a couple books for my briefcase or I remember one last thing I needed to ask.

If I’m honest, however, I’ll acknowledge that although the last 10 minutes before I walk out the door are a flurry of activity, they are preceeded by plenty of time of doing…or not doing…other things, things that can be adjusted, things that could be better planned.

In previous periods of my life, I was late because I had meeting after meeting, each one running a bit late. It is easy to blame others for making them run long. However, I’m the one that believes I have to stay to the bitter end because I might miss something or they might miss my significant input.

However, whether it’s because I want the attention of arriving late or the attention of being thought extremely busy or the attention of the last statement at the previous meeting or the attention of rushing about getting out the door, it all comes back to what I want.

And that is arrogant.

And so it’s time to start working on the skill.

In about 10 minutes.


So, how do you make sure you are on time? And are you an on-time person (in which case, I don’t care 🙂 ) or are you a late person by nature who has changed your behavior?

not everyone likes coffee

I was raised well by my Swedish family. I always offer coffee. (and then take some myself, thank you very much).

Some people like tea. My offer of coffee is misguided. Some people are opposed to caffeine. My offer of coffee is an affront. Some people aren’t thirsty. My offer of coffee is irrelevant. Some people like coffee, but not the way I make it. My offer of coffee forces them to be polite.

I could, of course, only talk with people who like coffee the way I make it. I could (implicitly) demand that they conform to my tastes if they are going to talk with me. But that would be come tedious after awhile.

I thought of this today when someone said that a group of people didn’t understand something that I had written. I realized that how I write here, where you choose to drink the coffee, where an audience gathers because they have acquired a taste for the way I brew ideas, will be different than how I write elsewhere, on behalf of others. When I am writing on behalf of my organization, I have to remember that the audience isn’t my audience, it is the organization’s audience.

That audience is part of a microculture that has formed in this organization over the past century. While I’ve been forming elsewhere for half that time, I’ve only been here for a year. And while I can use my voice and perspective, there is an edge in my personal writing that is not part of the organization’s persona.

I read today about buyer personas in a case study of rightnow.com. The post talks about identifying clear profiles of the buyers you are seeking. Once you have this picture, you structure your communication strategy, a website, for example, to answer the questions that this buyer has. the company is an IT company, but the application became clear for me.

On my blog, I always offer coffee. But what if I help our church think about our people. There is a group of people in our church who are parents of young children. They really don’t care much about coffee. They pretty much want to know what time and where and how long the children’s events are. They want to be able to find that information quickly and really don’t care about my odd photos and clever wording.

There is a group of people in our church who are committed to learning and want to know where the learning opportunities are and whether we have anything online and what we have offline.

There is a group of people in our church who want to serve other people. They need to know when and where and how and who.

And as I think about those buyer personas, I realize that we haven’t been thinking that way. I realize that if we did, we could help them very well and could be much clearer in our website and all of our communication. And that’s a good thing.

I think I’ll get some more coffee and work on that. Can I get you some?


That ringing sound? It’s my virtual Red Kettle.  But it’s okay to give at the office.