Prejudging or Predicting

By John Burwell, Service and Sales Coach

It’s 6:00pm on a Wednesday evening and I’m sitting is my 10 year old son’s new 5th grade desk. It’s been over 35 years since I sat in a 5th graders desk. The perspective is an interesting one. We were seated in our student’s desks in an attempt to allow us to see learning at that age from the viewpoint of a 10 year old.

My son’s teacher talked about the importance of reading and how it impacts child development on so many different levels. One key lesson being taught was the focus on predicting. He explained that our kids will read a story and think about what may happen next before they read it and then see how close they were to figuring it out. I saw it as an exercise in investigation, focus and adventure.

As adults we often do this subconsciously. For example, in a conversation with others, we let our minds jump ahead to what we think they are going to say, or when we’re watching a who-done-it crime show we try to figure out the plot and solve the mystery.

As service technicians predicting shows up in our work every day and on every service call we make. All too often it turns from predicting to prejudging. It begins with the page or work order. We see the address and it’s in “that part of town” - you know “that part of town” we all have. And we begin to predict what the house will look like, what the client will act like, what the result of the call will be – before we even arrive. And of course when we arrive we are rewarded with the evidence that our prediction was correct! The house is run down, the lawn looks terrible and the cars in the drive are old.

At this point we have moved from predicting, to full on prejudging.

Prejudge: to judge beforehand without possession of all the evidence.

There is nothing positive about prejudging. It’s unfair to the client, unfair to you as a technician and unfair to your company.

What if we choose to look at it differently? What if we use our sense of focus, adventure and investigation and came from a place of predicting like the teacher encourages his 5th graders to do with their reading? When we do this, each call becomes a challenge that we step up to and are willing to overcome. The practice of predicting can put us in a place of solution, looking at what can be and how our client is going to benefit from our expertise and receive a great service experience.

When we predict the future we set in motion the natural law of attraction and the Universe conspires to help us make that prediction come true.

I was on a ride along a few years back. Our call was in “that part of town”. The front yard was in bad shape. The bushes were over grown, the grass was all but dead, the paint was peeling and the screen door was falling off. I could see in the face and body language of the technician that he was not happy and was doing some prejudging. Then he caught himself. He actually said out loud, “nope, I got this!” He turned his prejudging into an investigative mission, went in and asked a lot of questions and explored the entire system. Now imagine the condition of the inside of the house, it was as bad as the outside. The plumbing hadn’t been taken care of; there were leaks, faucets not working, kitchen drain plugged, and a water heater that was barely giving warm water. The technician was not detoured, he followed his process. When all was said and done, he gave options and the homeowner said yes to all of it - over $3500 worth of work.

When we prejudge we tend to sway from the process. We think we already know the answers and we skip the questions that will lead to the right options and answers.

Predict a great outcome and then do everything necessary to make it happen.

Sitting in that 5th grade chair it’s easy to see possibilities, to have a sense of wonder and prediction. Let’s use this lesson from the 5th grade teacher and get back to that place of adventure – where anything is possible and we can predict the outcome.

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