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What Every Manager Should Know About Seeing the World from Where the Customer Is Standing

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It is important to remember that the customer doesn't necessarily see things in the same way we do. This point was brought home to me one day while I was shopping with my daughter, Stefanie, who was two years old at the time.

As I stooped down to tie her shoelaces, I immediately realized why she was becoming so irritable. She could not adequately see the toys that were displayed on the shelf above her head. At this point, I decided to pick her up and to continue shopping with her in my arms. The pleasant change in her behavior was quite apparent and welcomed.

Stefanie's experience taught me two lessons that I am passing on to you today:

* In dealing with children, with customers, and with people in general who may be from different cultures, we do them and ourselves a great service when we take the time to see their uniques situation from their very special viewpoint.

* Developing an emphatic attitude means listening, really listening, to what they are say. (I'm not referring to the superficial listening we are so prone to do by mouthing words to someone while our eyes and ears are glues to the TV. I'm referring to emphatic listening: listening with our eyes.) They might just happen to be our neighbors, friends, customers, co-workers, or employees are saying. And it means trying to feel as they feel. It's like the song says, "Walk a mile in my shoes."

To help you get into their frame of mind, imagine yourself in their limited experience and highly dependent situation. This will enormously increase your satisfaction and enjoyment of living and, at the same time, make you much more attractive to others as they recognize your sincere attempts to understand them and help them with meaningful solutions.

We all need strong egos to cope successfully with our world, but we need empathy, too. If we want to be successful in business as we are in life, then we must get into the other person's shoes and see the world from where he is standing.

Remember: When you maximize your potential, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.

? Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

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Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, conducts seminars, lectures, and writes articles on his theme: ... helping you maximize your potential. He offers management, marketing, and parenting resources at his Maximizing Your Potential blog.

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