If you take a minute and think about it, I bet you will agree with the following.
“Unfortunately, over time, most people accent the negative and not the positive.”
Actually, before you agree or disagree with that statement, let me give you some illustrations.
Imagine a restaurant manager communicating with a brand new hostess that her primary job is to be a great first impression and to help seat the guests with a friendly smile as efficiently as possible.
Then, the manager says, “In your spare time when you are not creating an exceptional experience for our guests, what I would like you to do is fill the butter cups in the soup and salad bar.”
This was an extremely busy cafeteria / buffet type of steakhouse. It was extremely busy between the hours of 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
This brand new hostess was doing an amazing job greeting the guests, seating the families and being an awesome director of first impressions.
Because she was the only hostess on this weekday and because there was a non-stop line out the door, not only did this brand new employee not have a second to take a breath, she certainly did not have time to help with the butter cups, who’s primary responsibility was that of the bus boy’s.
You pretty much know what is going to happen next, don’t you?
Yes, the manager was back in his office doing managerial type things, like ordering supplies, and unfortunately not observing the awesome job this new hostess was doing.
Then, this so called leader gets out from behind his desk and wanders out to the front of the house.
It is now about 8:00 p.m. and the tidal wave has subsided. The first thing this cone head of manager does is go look at the butter cups.
The butter cups were low.
He then marches over to the hostess stand and says, “Mary, I can’t believe that you didn’t help keep up with the butter cups. I told you you should help with the butter cups.”
Poor Mary says to her manager Richard, “I thought you said my first responsibility was to create an awesome experience for the guests. I don’t understand.”
Dick said, “All I know is the butter cups are low. It better not happen again.”
So, was he accenting the positive or the negative?
More importantly, what do you think the consequences are of Dick’s actions?
The next night Mary shows up for work, what do you think she is going to do?
Let me skip to the answer. I can tell you one thing she is NOT going to do.
Mary is not going to let Dick catch her with her butter cups down.
The next evening is almost as busy as the previous night.
There are large parties waiting to be seated, however, this time Mary is apologizing saying she will be right back with them shortly.
Mary is running a relay back and forth between the salad bar to ensure she has stocked the butter cup supply.
Richard, back on duty, strolls out of his office. This time actually spending some time with guests on the restaurant floor before strolling over to assess the salad bar.
This evening, not only are the butter cups full, they are over stocked.
Dick is delighted.
So much so that he rushes over to the hostess stand where there is currently a 45 minute wait, even though there are several open tables.
He says to Mary, “Way to go! Awesome job on the butter cups!”
Right in the middle of his praising, several of the waiting guests approach Dick and complain that Mary is not going proactive enough.
Richard ensures the guests that exceptional experiences are their priority.
After the rush is over, Mary resigns.
Dick is aghast!
He says, “Mary, why would you resign after just two nights, and especially after I told you did an awesome job on the butter cups?”
Mary says, “Dick, quite to the contrary. In orientation, in training and in your first communication to me what was stressed is that our number one goal is to create exceptional experiences, and my specific role was to be a Director of First Impressions. I am resigning because I did that and you reprimanded me. Then the second night, at the expense of the guest experience, you praise me because I focused on the butter cups. So, Dick, the reason I am leaving is because I came here because I wanted to create exceptional experiences. Any person can stock butter cups. I am just not that person.”
Now, I have an even tougher question for you.
The majority of the time, do you accent the positive or the negative?
Do you pay attention to and focus on what you want? Or do you worry about and criticize what you do not want?
Just remember, paying attention and accenting the positive is free!
In my experience, accenting the positive, and positively paying attention to those who deliver the desired results is the most powerful business tool in the universe.
So the next time your child does something you expect, accent and praise that action.
Do not just “expect” it.
When your co-worker or teammate delivers the result or goes the extra mile, thank, praise and recognize them.
Do not just assume they understand you appreciate their actions.
The next time anyone does something nice, personalized or creates a hassle-free experience for you, thank them, recognize them and if you are a leader, reward them.
In business and in life, there are exceptional experiences and there are butter cups.
I trust you will choose wisely.