Call it back in this moment to make this person feel seen

Working as a valet parker a luxury hotel taught me numerous life lessons.

Like, don’t try to teach yourself how to drive a manual transmission on the guest’s million dollar sports car.

Or, don’t go joyriding in that same sports car down a winding street that has a police station.

And for sure, definitely don’t try to parallel park that same sports car in between two monster trucks while singing show tunes as loud as you can, only to crash into the cement wall, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, my license should be revoked.

Not the point.

The big lesson from working at a luxury hotel was that of anticipatory service. The hotel trained our team how to discover, note, share and leverage the guest preferences to assure that they had an extraordinary, personalized experience.

Hospitality consultants call this industrialized intimacy, which is far less creepy than it sounds. It’s the combination of attention, empathy and connection, where perceived customer value hinges on the hotel’s ability to personalize their service delivery.

The hotel even gave us preference pads as part of our employee uniform. Their expression of customer intimacy was no joke.

And it shouldn’t have been. Because this isn’t just about giving people service, it’s about making people feel seen. That’s the ultimate goal of anticipatory service. The acknowledgment of humanity.

And after two years of being brainwashed in the ways of luxury hospitality, that practice still holds meaning for me today.

Before meeting up with someone, for example, whether it’s friends, family members, customers or otherwise, here’s the leverage question running through my head.

What experience, preference, or piece of information could you call back in this moment to make this person feel seen?

My go to item tends to be insights. After all, my creative brain is trained to notice, remember and document language and phrases and insights that profoundly penetrate me. It’s eighty percent of my job as a writer.

And since all these amazing people in my life have given me so many wonderful gifts in the form of their words, one of my favorite practices is to remind them just how much they inspire me.

Acknowledging that something they told me months or even years ago, still sticks with me. It’s the most human and spiritual form of leverage, and it brings both parties massive joy.

Because people appreciate being appreciated. Everyone loves getting a front row seat to their own brilliance, particularly if they didn’t realize they had an audience.

All it takes, like most good interpersonal practices, is attention and intention. You don’t need to carry around a preference pad on your person at all times, but it’s a fulfilling exercise to ask yourself, before meeting up with somebody, what they might love to have reflected back to them. 

How are you adding incremental value to your interactions with people?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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