Reality Check: Above and Beyond

You can tell when you’re dealing with someone who goes above and beyond.
It’s the store clerk who not only asks if you’ve found what you’re looking for, but who makes sure that it meets your needs. It’s the person who follows up on a request when they say they will and who has the information they said they would have. It’s the service provider who steps up to help you out even when it’s not really their job, but because they see that you have a problem and they can help.
These folks come in different shapes, sizes, ages, and in all parts of society. They may work in private industry, education, government, or they may not work for pay at all.
During these pandemic-focused days, it’s been too easy to find examples of systems that don’t work well. You might even develop a perception that the pandemic is an excuse! Poor service? Blame the pandemic. Expectations not met? Blame the pandemic. People are stressed or rude? Blame the pandemic.
People who make that extra effort stand out even more now than during normal times. I’ve observed that those folks also make three notable choices.
1. Choose to serve. People who try harder recognize that there is a “customer”—someone in need of a service. When your values include serving others, you’re more inclined to ask, “Can I help you?” and really mean it.
2. Choose to empathize. In some cases, there’s a need to make a deliberate choice to understand another’s situation. For example, if you’ve only lived in a wired world, it may be hard to imagine the difficulty of someone who is uncomfortable with machines and computer systems that are perfectly straightforward for you. It takes empathy to effectively serve another who does not share your experience or mindset.
3. Choose to avoid blame. When things go wrong, especially in potentially impersonal organizations such as government, education, medical facilities, it may indeed be someone’s fault. While there is a benefit to uncovering who and what exactly went wrong, placing blame doesn’t help the customer now.
The opportunity to blame always exists. The opportunity to choose differently also exists.
How might we encourage people to go above and beyond? My suggestion is that we consciously make an effort to recognize and acknowledge it when we experience it.
Folks often tell each other about a great experience but seem reluctant to say anything directly to the person who has delivered it. Maybe we’re shy or feel awkward about delivering a heartfelt thank you.
Thus, many who do go above and beyond may be greatly appreciated but never know that anyone noticed. It’s nice for people to say wonderful things about you in your eulogy, but it’s even nicer to hear them a little earlier than that.
Recognition doesn’t have to be complicated. Get the person’s name. Make a call to say thank you. (That’s even more effective if you also tell the boss or manager.)
Send a note. In these days of virtual communication, a thank you card in an envelope stands out (especially if it has a cat on it.)
Do you know people who go above and beyond?

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