Raise your hand if you LOVE to reach an automated attendant when contacting a company’s customer service number with a problem.
I don’t see very many hands raised, and most of them are standing in the back, close to the exits.
There are very few things more despised than navigating through a call-tree, yet they’re everywhere. It’s the world’s largest undocumented forest.
If customers hate them so much, why are there so many?
The 2008 global financial meltdown. Hurricane Katrina. Pearl Harbor. 9/11. These are only a few examples of disasters that might have been significantly less horrific, and in some cases maybe even outright prevented, if people had listened to those trying to sound the warning.
The intelligence failures of Pearl Harbor, repeated again during 9/11 have been well documented in countless books. The warnings of levee failure in advance of Hurricane Katrina were so numerous that in retrospect it seems to have been common knowledge among the federal, state, and local government agencies involved. The post disaster finger-pointing among those groups is every bit as prolific as the pre-disaster warnings appear to have been. Academy award-winning movie The Big Short (based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name) vividly portrays just a few of the people who were warning of a looming financial meltdown.
All of these examples tip on the extreme end of listening failures. In our day-to-day experiences, it is rare that our lack of effective listening could affect the lives of thousands of people. This doesn’t, however, lessen our burden to give our full attention to listening when we engage in communicating with the people in our lives.
We’re not very good at it.
Charles Schulz – the creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang – taught me how to read when I was three-years-old.
These were the days when most people got their news from a combination of the daily newspaper and Walter Cronkite. Every day, after the grown-ups were done with the news, I would pour over the comics page. On Sundays, there was an entire SECTION of comics in the paper. And it was in color!
At three, I enjoyed the cartoons themselves, but I really wanted to be able to understand what that round-headed kid and his dog were saying. Depending on the day, my mom or aunts or uncles or grandparents would read the comics to me and guide me along as I started to learn. But it was Good Ol’ Charlie Brown who showed up every single day with something new to say that inspired me to make reading a daily habit that stuck with me for well over four decades.
I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up. Drawing four small pictures and scribbling out a few words didn’t seem like it would take very long or be very hard. My naive concept of how cartoonists worked enchanted me. Make people laugh for a living and do a whole week’s worth of work in one day! What could be better? Even if my idealized version had been correct, there was still one major flaw…