Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
Thanks a Lot . . .
Carlos rapped twice on the open door to John's office and poked his head in, " You wanted to see me, John?"
John picked up a comment card from a stack on his desk. He handed the card to Carlos. "Yes. I wanted you to see this. I thought it would make your day."
Carlos read the card aloud, " . . . What is this place? A hotel or some kind of carnival? My room overlooks the southern parking area. As if my 'view' of parked cars and trash bins wasn't UGLY enough, you feel the need to flood every square inch of this hideous 'view' with bright lights. I think that there are FEWER lights on the Vegas Strip! Last night, I had to hang a blanket over the window to get the room dark enough to sleep. . . ."
John stood up and offered his hand, "Congratulations!"
Carlos gave a sideways glance toward John, "What for?"
John grinned, "That is a 'Thank You"! That is a a slap on the back and a hearty 'Job Well Done'."
Carlos looked at the card again, No it isn't. It's a complaint. He is mad that he can't get to sleep because of the glare coming in the window. He is complaining about all the lights I put up over the south parking lot."
Johns grin widened, "Exactly! And this is the first time I have every seen a complaint for TOO MUCH light! I consider this complaint to be a compliment to you, OUR ELECTRICIAN! It means you are performing your job at such a high level that someone has noticed your work!"
Carlos pointed to the card, "But that guy was really mad . . ."
John shrugged, "Oh, that is just the way it is done. It is against human nature come right out and say something nice. A compliment is frequently framed within a complaint. Most guests don't feel the need to comment on pleasant experiences. They expect a pleasant experience. That is what they are paying for. You don't pay to go on a vacation to have a rotten time do you?"
"No . . ."
"Of course not. And when you have a good time, you don't thank anyone for it. Do you?
"Well, I leave a tip . . ."
"Naturally! But, you don't write comment cards thanking everyone. Do you?"
"Write cards to everyone? No, I never . . ."
"What about the sanitation crew that picks up the garbage at your house? Do you ever send them a thank-you note? Its certainly a dirty job and it certainly is appreciated. When they DON'T come to empty the trash cans, I am sure you notice! I'll bet you never thanked them . . ."
"No . . . its' their job."
John stretched his arms outwards, "Exactly! It is not human nature to compliment workers doing their job. That's why we - the workers - have to look for our compliments in the COMPLAINTS we receive."
Carlos pointed to the comment card again, "But that guy was really mad. He was hanging blankets in the window to get some sleep. I . . ."
John held up one palm to signal stop, "Oh, don't be so sensitive. It was only one opinion. You have to see the big picture!" John dug through the stack of comment cards mumbling, "OK, Maybe that comment was a little negative. . ."He pulled another card from the stack and handed it to Carlos, " . . . Here is one that is a little more positive."
Carlos squinted as he tried to decipher the handwritten card. He read it haltingly, " . . . Well, IT'S ABOUT TIME that you finally installed the lights over the south parking area. I have been asking for those lights for nearly three years. Somebody finally listened. I am grateful that you finally found time in your busy schedule to get around to installing those lights. I have always said that lights would be critical to the safety and security of our hotel guests - not that you would care. I know it was a lot of trouble to interrupt your nonstop coffee break to do some actual work . . ."
John interrupted, "It was written by the night watchman. He was the one who first proposed the idea for the south parking lot security lighting. . . "
Carlos looked up at John wide-eyed," Oh yes, this one is SOOO much nicer! I feel all warm and fuzzy with the love this guy is spreading!'
John nodded thoughtfully, "Well, I guess it IS a bit sarcastic. He is kind of a grumpy old coot - but a good watchman."
Carlos put the card on John's desk, "But, you just gave me that work order ten days ago! I've been working nonstop! The job took a eight days to complete! How can he say we 'finally got around to doing it'?"
John explained, "The proposal to add light poles to the south parking lot has been bouncing around the finance committee for a long time. The night watchman suggested it three years ago. At the time, the committee agreed it was important but there were other priorities that needed to come first.
"Then, when we were writing the budget two years ago, funding for the lighting project was discussed but didn't make the cut. Last year, it was reinstated on the top ten reserve priorities. But, we depleted the reserve fixing the roof on the north wing.
"Finally, this year, funding for new lighting over the south parking area was approved. I got the official 'go-ahead' at the last finance meeting. That very same day, I gave you the work order to do it."
Carlos slowly shook his head, "I worked my tail off to get all of those lights installed over the south parking area. I complete the job on time - under two weeks. But, since 'Finance' sat on the proposal for nearly three years, I get criticized for moving too slowly. That's not fair."
John grinned, "You have to look for the bright side. . ."
Carlos motioned towards the comment cards on John's desk and smiled, "It appears the bright side is the south parking area. For somebody, The south side so bright that he is hanging blankets in the windows".
John continued, "You have find the bright side. The bright side is usually hiding in dark. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. A person writing a comment is framing his comments within his perspective.
"That guy probably woke up grouchy. I suppose it made him feel better to 'unload' a little bit. His comment about the glare coming in the windows is a valid complaint. We will certainly need to address that problem right away - maybe change the direction of the lights or reduce their wattage.
"But, we need to take things one step at a time. We need to stop and appreciate what has been done thus far. There is a real danger in 'knocking' someone's work because the net effect wasn't entirely as planned. The effort that you put into the light project should not be diminished because there are still some problems with the design. His complaint is a testament to how well the lighting project works. And that is a compliment to you.
"The night watchman is understandably frustrated that the project took three years. He framed his comment with that frustration. But notice how many times he points out that it was HIS suggestion. He is justifiable proud to see his idea 'up in lights'. And his pride is a compliment to you.
"So, progress is made - eventually. Improvements happen - in time. People do notice good work. And, people are appreciative."
Carlos shrugged, "They have a funny way of saying it"
John pushed the comment cards aside and extended his hand, "Yes, I guess they do. Anyway, I called you in here today to thank you for all the hard work you do."
Carlos shook John's hand, "Thanks, John."