Reclaiming Our Humanity One Word at a Time

Reclaiming our Humanity One Word at a Time

By: John Villier

What’s happened to us?   In an endless search to streamline, to optimize, and to make our business processes more efficient, we continue to remove the human element from our daily people interactions.  We’ve identified others and we ourselves have been labeled as a resource, an asset, or consumer target for way too long.  Consequently, we’ve become numb to our rather lifeless and mechanistic interactions with others.

Typically, resources are defined as materials, money, services (and yes, staff) that produce benefit.  These things are clearly used in some fashion and in the process are consumed.  But, who likes to be used?  And for that matter, I can’t imagine many hand raisers who are looking to be consumed.    Well, I say “No More!”

It’s time to stand up to the machine and to revolt against acting like machines.  Where do we start?   How about we take a few baby steps forward and first begin speaking like normal human beings instead of robots?   This includes choosing words that connect us and then using these words in a natural way that helps to deepen our connections.  Words like Happy, Yes, Thank You, and even Love are yearning to make a way back into our interactions.

It’s time to bring back the love and to emotionally and meaningfully relate with our neighbors, co-workers, and customers. 

To do this right, we must go beyond the words themselves and also carefully consider our delivery.   We’ve all been on the receiving end of contrived pleasantries upon checking in to a hotel or as we listen to scripted call center language.  It’s clear in these cases that the individual is unfortunately doing nothing more than initiating a transaction.     On the other hand, we’ve also had those rare experiences where an empathetic agent will seek to understand, to form a connection in some way, and from there begin their task with care and attention to detail.  The key here is the prioritization of the interpersonal interaction over the assignment.   Too often, the focus is on ‘executing’ (a tough word in and of itself) a task and in the process we treat people as interruptions.    We have to stop this!

Once we have landed on a “people-centered” frame to our language and the delivery of this language, I’ll suggest that the act of Recognition brings all our efforts together.    In this fashion, we recognize our customers as the people beyond the ‘consumer’ label.  Whether that individual is the mother who is returning to work after maternity leave with her first baby, the college graduate making his first big purchase, or the weary traveler that’s been traveling internationally and away from home all month, each of these people have a story and a soul that needs nourishing.

Considering 55% of employees share that they are NOT recognized in meaningful ways, there’s a tremendous opportunity to bridge this gap and to reward our employees for essentially feeding the needs of the new mother, the college grad, or the weary traveler.  The BET Recognition Model SM  is a simple and effective approach that can be leveraged here.   Utilizing the empathetic language outlined above, one can

  1. Identify the positive B-ehavior,
  2. Share the E-ffect and the impact of this behavior, and
  3. Give genuine T-hanks in a warm and natural manner.

By now, I’m sure you’ve guessed it.   YES, I am that guy.   For whatever service or product, I impatiently press “0” when calling customer service so I can avoid “Jane” the automated computer.   Rather than an interactive voice response that offers an endless menu of options, most of which aren’t relevant to me, I crave that human voice that points me in the direction I need to go.

So, I say we collectively press “0” moving forward on all our lifeless interactions.  And in the process, let’s reclaim our humanity and make our world a happier, friendlier, more loving place.  Are you with me?

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