Live and Help Live

Live and let live is fine, but live and help live is better.

A young woman was explaining to her friend why she decided to marry one man rather than another. She said, “When I was with John, I thought he was the greatest person in the whole world.”

“Then why didn’t you choose him,” her confused friend asked.

“Because when I’m with Bill, I think I am the greatest person in the whole world.”

Obviously Bill had learned something really important in life. One of the secrets in life, one of the keys to positive relationships is how you make the other person feel about himself. When you help the other person like himself a little more, you can be certain he’ll like you a great deal more, and you can be certain he’ll be a great deal more motivated.

Mike Vance talks about that in his book, Breaking Out Of The Box. Vance, the director of management development and training at Disneyland, had been hired to give a pep talk to the employees of a particular casino. Previous consultants had come into the casino, and along with the casino’s president, had agreed that employee morale was bad, employee grooming was “skuzzy,” and customer service was atrocious. The consultants had recommended the implementation of precise grooming policies, but the employees were furious. They interpreted the new policy to mean their president had no respect for them.

When Vance met with the employees before his speech, he found them to be warm and friendly, very different than the previous consultants. So he took a different approach. He said, “The problem isn’t you. It’s your difficult guests. Let’s face it; you’ve got customers who can be testy! That’s the problem. You guys are great.” The employees stood up and cheered. The casino president gasped in disbelief.

Why did Vance start that way? People never buy into your ideas if you start by telling them they’re second rate. Instead, you have to start by affirming them.

After Vance affirmed them, he pointed out the need to find a way to turn around unhappy, rude customers. He recommended a customer courtesy program based on leading by example.

Once the employees shifted their focus from defending themselves to working with the customer, they were instantly more motivated. They began showing the most courteous service anyone could imagine. Their goal became that of being so good at service that a customer just couldn’t be difficult. Employee attitudes, grooming, and communication improved dramatically and almost instantly.

The task had gone from “clean up your act” to “find a way to transform the customer.” It worked. But remember this–it worked because Vance HELPED THE PEOPLE TO FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES–first.


Action:  Select a person that you find somewhat difficult. Instead of trying to change that person, try to find ways to affirm that individual. Find ways to help that person like himself a bit more. Then watch how that person changes for the better over the next few weeks. Try it. You’ll like what you see.