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Assumptions Versus Listening

By Joey Havens

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It’s Monday night and we have been out of town for four nights now, which I know pushes CeCe’s travel limit. Although I shared with her while sitting on the beach that my schedule for the week would allow me to work remotely for longer, I could tell from her lack of conversation and our prior travel experiences that she will be disappointed if we do not head home tomorrow. So, I start making changes in my schedule to handle all of my calls on the six-hour drive home.  

Waking up early, I head out for a quick run then bring up a luggage cart from the parking garage when I return. Easing into the bedroom, I see CeCe starting to stir and take that opportunity to share the great news. “Why don’t we pack up and head on back today? My schedule is getting full of meetings on Wednesday and it will probably be better if I’m home for some of them. I know you are ready to go. If we head out a little later this morning, we can be home by 5 p.m. What do you think?” 

“I thought we were going to stay since you could work virtual today. Let’s grab some coffee and discuss it,” CeCe commented. 

Followed quickly by an exasperated, “WELL! You already have the luggage cart up here so I guess you have already decided we are heading home today.”  

I’m backpedaling now, “When you didn’t engage in the conversation yesterday, I assumed you were ready to go home. You rarely like to stay anywhere over four nights.”  

CeCe quickly stunned me when she said, “I thought it would be nice to have another day on the beach and go to dinner tonight.”

Talk about a splash of ice-cold water on your face. I knew in an instant that I had made too many assumptions. Even though my goal was to please CeCe, I hadn’t stopped to really listen to her. 

Long story short, we packed up and headed home, but it was a little icy in the car even on a hot summer day. 

Assumptions are so easy to make and they get us in so much trouble. They cause us to miss so many opportunities. Making assumptions is a common mistake that we frequently make in client service

We assume one client has the same concerns or challenges as the next. We assume an urgent and important trend is important to any client. We assume business owners see the challenges and opportunities as we see them. That is rarely true. We can become distinctive and develop a competitive advantage by making fewer assumptions and listening more. Demonstrating empathy and collaboration is a pathway to WOW client experiences. And more days on the beach. 

Jogging in the Rain