Excellence: Making Things Right

This week we continue our pursuit of the Wow Factor through excellence. The Wow Factor is simply a memorable experience that leaves others talking about us in an extremely positive way. We’ve also defined excellence is simply above average.

Last time we looked at ways to pursue excellence through our self-talk. 

This week, we’ll look at achieving excellence by making things right.

This may seem like an odd way to talk about excellence but it’s actually an extremely important piece of the picture. Excellence is not about perfection. If it was I would be out of luck, and so would you. However, the times we don’t get it right can still provide unique opportunities to deliver the Wow Factor in a powerful way. Why? Because average people just don’t do a very good job of making things right. Since excellence is above average, we can be excellent simply by being good at correcting our mistakes.

I believe there are three primary things that have to happen in order to make things right in an excellent manner:

  1. Listen

Before we can make things right we have to hear to what is being communicated, whether it is a dissatisfied customer or our spouse. In order to really hear, we need to be able to listen before we began forming a defense or figuring out what we’re going to say in response. We may not truly understand how our mistake affected someone if we don’t listen well.

I was talking with my friend Bryan recently about listening.  He said he believes average listeners listen simply to respond, below average listeners don’t listen (they interrupt, answer their phone, etc), and excellent listeners listen to understand what is being said. I agree.

This is an area of weakness for me personally that I’ve had to work hard on. I sometimes only hear the way my wife says something and get defensive instead of actually listening carefully to what she is saying to see if there is something there that I can correct. This ties directly into taking responsibility.

  1. Take Responsibility

It is normal (read: average) to get defensive when faced with an accusation or complaint about ourselves. We can usually find something in the complaint that we disagree strongly with or that is even factually incorrect. Average people focus on this and make the priority defending themselves and de-legitimizing the complaint. This is the very habit I was describing that I’ve fallen into at times with my wife.

This is why listening is so important. In order to be excellent, we need to be able to carefully listen so that we can take responsibility. Our marriage counselor recently encouraged me to listen reflectively to Amanda and ask myself, Is there something, anything in the complaint that could possibly be true? Is there any element there that I can take action to correct and/or prevent in the future?

Most of the time there is, and there will be for you too.  In order to be excellent, we need to take responsibility for that. Focus on what we are responsible for instead of what we aren’t.

  1. Exceed Expectations

Once we have truly listened and taken responsibility for a mistake, it is time to do something about it. Just as with listening we can choose to be average, below average or above average here as well.

A below average response would be to do nothing or to simply give lip service. Maybe you’ve experienced this when you’ve had an extremely unpleasant experience at a restaurant or other place of business for which you’ve paid for a product or service and was simply given a lukewarm apology if anything. This does deliver a Wow Factor that you’ll tell others about, but’s it’s not one to be proud of!

An average response would be to do what is expected. Maybe you give the customer a refund or correct their order or you apologize for being insensitive to your spouse, etc. This is certainly better than doing nothing but it isn’t excellent.

To turn a screw-up into a Wow Factor takes an above average response. We need to go beyond expectations. Think about what would be expected in the situation, then go well beyond that.

It may seem odd to think that something you’ve messed up can be an opportunity to deliver the Wow Factor but it really works. Perhaps you can think of a time it’s happened to you, a time where someone went so far above what was required that their excellent response became more memorable than the initial mistake. That’s what we’re going for. That is excellence!

Listen to understand + Take responsibility + Exceed expectations = Deliver the Wow Factor!





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