REFLECTION: I spent last week attending the National Speakers’ Association Convention in Orlando, Florida. As I’m sure you know, Orlando is the eastern US headquarters for the Disney operation. I did manage an evening visit to the Magic Kingdom and took an extra day post-conference to visit Epcot.
Disney theme parks are renowned for their high level of service to their guests. And, we encountered many kind, welcoming and helpful employees. That’s what made our contrasting experience with a couple of employees stand out so strongly. With both of these individuals, the word, perfunctory sprang to mind.
Perfunctory: mechanical, indifferent, careless, listless, superficial, as a formality only. You know perfunctory when you see it or hear it. How many times has a ‘Have a good day’ greeting been carelessly tossed your way, with no investment of emotion? That’s perfunctory.
Carry a bag to Disney (as with many other public places), and you’re subject to a search. Our security guy zipped open my bag, half-heartedly shifted the top item to the side, while looking over his shoulder in another direction, then pushed the bag back across the table with no further exploration. So much for security – perfunctory at best.
Our Jungle Cruise boat captain clearly wanted to be anywhere but at the wheel. His nonstop patter consisted of halfhearted attempts at humor, cynical comments, and sarcastic asides. Clearly on auto-pilot. To call his performance perfunctory would be generous.
Both were a real contrast to Alex, an employee at the Orlando World Center Marriott where I stayed. When I had trouble connecting to WiFi in the lobby one morning, Alex tried to give me a hand. It soon became clear the problem exceeded his expertise as well as mine. Rather than just shrugging and wishing me luck, Alex offered to call their IT department to give me a hand. When he learned I was headed into my next conference session, he asked what time I would be through and set an appointment time to reconvene with an IT rep to resolve the issue.
Alex was as good as his word. When I returned at the appointed time and place, Alex introduced me to Frederic who sat down with me and solved my access problems in the most congenial way in less than 5 minutes. Now that’s anything but perfunctory. In fact, I’d place Alex’s response clearly in the attentive, mindful, solicitous, and considerate department.
ACTION: These experiences have me thinking about my own everyday reactions and interactions. Here’s the thing. It’s easy to see perfunctory responses in others. It’s not so easy to recognize them in ourselves.
Pause to consider:
- How often do you toss off an answer to a colleague’s question from that mindless auto responder part of your brain?
- Would your voice mail message be described as personal or perfunctory? How about the quaility of your good bye kiss to your spouse or life partner?
- When you put a meal on the table is it presented with care and attention, or tossed down in a perfunctory ‘That oughta fill you up’ manner?
If you find you’re in an auto-pilot rut, try responding in a more personal, less perfunctory way to more of the people and situations that show up in your life this week. It’s sure to make a difference for them and for you.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. – Grandma Moses
Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out. – Anton Chekhov
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: For a few additional thoughts on this theme, see ‘Are You Just Going Through The Motions?’ at http://hilife2b.com/blog/motions
READERS WRITE: In response to the latest ezine message, Summer Reading, Pause reader PM writes: “Thanks for the reading tips. Another great read you recommended in the past was ‘Crazy Busy’. It’s definitely worth a re-recommendation. It was a great read and I often refer it on to others.