Tuesday, February 26, 2019

40 Seconds that Change a Life

That’s how much concentrated effort it takes for someone to believe you care.

My wife is the most caring, compassionate and empathetic person that I have ever met.
And opposites attract!


As most LeaderTribers know, I travel for work. I help CEO’s and their teams get their organizations totally aligned, engage more in healthy conflict, and evaluate all they do compared to the results they are looking for. So, I’m usually on a plane every week and I stay in hotel various hotels, but for years, I stayed almost exclusively at the Hyatt family of hotels. Eventually I was asked to join a group called Hyatt Insiders, and I had access to decision makers in their organization.

Their CEO launched an empathy initiative—he wanted Hyatt employees to actually “care” for the clients who were staying in their hotels. In the ensuing years I talked to over 100 employees across the nation and around the world—I personally saw and experienced the results of their initiative (they were lackluster). Every employee was aware of the initiative, and they loved it—that’s outstanding! Then I asked them “What is one behavior you have changed to consistently show more empathy?”and less than 10% had an answer. Those who had an answer usually weren’t working on the areas that the research proves give the highest results.

And it’s really not that hard! I was forced to leave my home at 15. I learned “survival mode” early in life. I’ve had to train myself to be much more caring and compassionate than what came “naturally” to me—especially with my background. But I can never go back! My life is far more rewarding and fulfilling since I learned to love people.

When I studied this in my attempt to help Hyatt, I found that the best research was in the medical field. 56% of people believe doctors are less compassionate than they used to be. The doctors agree! Their excuse? The doctors said they were being required to see more patients so they didn’t have time to be compassionate.

But then Johns Hopkins University did a study of Cancer Doctors and Cancer Patients. A recent Wharton interview reports:

It was literally just a message of compassion. “We’re going to be here with you. We’re going to go through this together. I’ll be with you every step of the way.” This was a [rigorous] randomized controlled trial… and it had a significant association with lowering patients’ anxiety. When they timed it, they found it was 40 seconds… 40 seconds is all it takes. 

“Dr. Rob, what can I do?” I’m so glad you asked. Here are two very easy first steps… but they are really only one step!

1.   Stop looking at your screen when someone arrives, and
2.   Make excellent eye contact when listening and speaking.

Both of those are proven to make people believe you care. And if you do them intentionally and consistently… you will train yourself to care far more than most!

Are there other things you can do? Yes. Especially when it comes to asking the right kinds of questions. But start with those two and let me know how it goes.


aka The Robster


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