On Friday, I had a little issue. Big wind storm. Cable out, internet out, phone out. Followed the maze of my provider’s complicated customer service system only to find out that the problem was not with them, but with me. Turns out I had a surge, knocking out the power to the main box.
OK. Called an electrical repair firm that has done work with me before. Asked if someone could come out that day to repair the problematic power outlet. Simple enough request, huh?
Uh-uh. No, the young receptionist quickly told me three different reasons why she didn’t want my business. One: “We don’t do anything with phones.” (You’re not listening. It’s not my phone, it’s a power outlet.) Two: “We don’t work in your area today.” (Your office is half a mile from my house.) And, Three, after I succinctly asked, “So, you’re telling me that there is no possible way to get someone out to my house today?”: “Well, you wouldn’t want to pay the emergency rate.” (Her tone said, “Only idiots would pay that.”)
Yes, as a matter of fact I am exactly the kind of idiot who will consider the emergency rate. Which was $97. About $30 more than a regular visit.
Worth it to me.
Maybe not worth it to her.
It’s that idea — “I wouldn’t, so why would you?” — that keeps us from opportunities. It reflects a lack of confidence, maybe. Or a lack of appreciation. Or it’s a self-esteem thing. Or a self-centeredness thing. Regardless, there’s a fear there, and it’s probably the fear of being told no.
If I say, “You wouldn’t want to…” and you end up taking my suggestion — why, you’re actually agreeing with me. Ha, ha! I win!
But I really lose. I lose a customer, I lose a job, I lose confidence.
I seem to be doing a lot of work these days prepping people for job interviews and performance appraisals. Imagine going into one of these settings and saying, “You wouldn’t want to hire me, would you?” Or, “You don’t want to promote me, do you?” But if you have the idea “I wouldn’t hire/promote me” in your mind, you utterly telegraph that losing message. And you don’t get hired, or promoted. You just stay stuck.
Yet this is how many people approach life. Negative rather than positive. Subtraction rather than contribution.
Let me tell you, living life on the contribution side — focusing solely on how you can help in the given situation — fundamentally shifts everything.
Can you imagine what it would have been like if that young receptionist had listened carefully and said, “Sounds like you need an electrician. Our regular appointments are all booked up today, but we have an emergency system that might just be perfect for you. It’s just $30 more for the first half hour, and I could send someone over after 4pm. How’s that sound?”
See how she might have made it easy for me? See how she could have told me how she could fix my problem, rather than focus on how she couldn’t?
It’s all a matter of attitude. And language that clearly states how you can help. How are you doing on that? If you find yourself living in the negative, come on over to the contribution side. It’s nice here.
Because when you live on the contribution side, you make it easy for people to work with you, and to like you. And to pay you. When you live on the contribution side, you are focusing on what can happen, rather than what can’t.
When you live on the contribution side, life becomes about opening rather than closing. And know what’s opening? It’s you. You’re opening to good things happening in your life. And you can start today by simply asking yourself how can you contribute. And then, go ahead and do it.