“You Never Buy Me Flowers”

“You never buy me flowers.”

A phrase that makes men’s heart’s sink.

So the next day, the man buys her flowers.

“Gee, thanks,” she says flatly, forcing a smile.

Men: that’s when you tell yourself women are unpleasable and irrational. But you’re wrong. You’re just not listening between the lines, and it’s the same thing people do with customers, managers with employees, and everywhere else.

Sometimes people can articulate clearly what they need, but very often not. What a woman is saying in a case like this is, “I don’t feel cherished in general by you and you’re not feeling moved to express your love through spontaneous acts like buying me flowers.”

In other words, she’s pointing to a problem in the context of the relationship. The flowers are just an example in content. This is why when you bought her flowers, it didn’t help. She doesn’t want to have to ask for flowers. She wants you to want to buy flowers without being asked.

Guys, this isn’t irrational at all, because it’s not only what women want. It’s what everyone wants. It’s just that women tend to be more sensitive to emotional context than men. We’ve got a lot to learn from them.

  • No one was asking Apple for a device the size of a credit card to hold their entire music collection.
  • No one told Coke and Pepsi there should be different kinds of their flagship products.
  • Market research never showed that people wanted thirty different kinds of spaghetti sauce.

But when a business determines a need people don’t even realize they have, then meet that need, magic happens.

You know this magic when you give anyone a gift they weren’t expecting and never asked for. Or when you notice one of your employees is feeling down and make a personal connection with them.

It’s about meeting emotional needs that haven’t yet been spoken. This touches people deeply.

Giving a customer what they expect is good, but greatness happens when you give them something they didn’t even realize they wanted, at a time they really need it. In other words, you’re attuned to their needs on a deep emotional level such that you know when to “buy them flowers” without them having to ask. And people will literally love you for it.

So guys, if your lady complains you don’t give her flowers, your problem began a long time ago, and has nothing to do with flowers. Take it seriously.

In business, you lose customers whose emotional needs you don’t meet and the vast majority of them will never tell you. Remember the Jimmy Buffet song, “If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me”?

Excellence means the wheel doesn’t need to squeak for you to give it oil because you’re paying attention.

Think of this way. There are three things that could be going on in your business.

  1. You’re not meeting your customer’s stated needs.
  2. You’re meeting your customer’s stated needs
  3. You’re meeting your customer’s stated needs AND their unstated needs.

This correlates to:

  1. Mediocrity at best, the path to failure at worst
  2. Break-even revenues and/or stagnation
  3. Profitable growth

Most businesses are doing a combination of all three, but ask yourself what percentage you’re doing of each. How often do you, for example, brainstorm about what unstated needs your customers have and how you could meet them?

Did you know Steve Jobs conceived of the iPad in the 1980s, though it wasn’t released until 2009?

Excellence as a Cultural Issue

Excellence is fundamentally a cultural issue. You can’t truly serve customers unless your people are passionately engaged to push themselves out of their comfort zone to be all they can be, and do all they can do. One disengaged employee, as the weakest link in a chain, can destroy the excellence of an entire company. Usually, a company has more than one.

If the culture is more concerned with making money or preserving the status quo or anything else, excellence won’t happen. A culture must be based on creating an outstanding customer experience from the healthy self-interest of the employees. This is the basis of real service. Wanting to create an amazing experience for another in order to satisfy a need in the self. Too much focus on the self is narcissism. Too much focus on the other is false altruism that isn’t authentically motivated. It has to come from a clear self-interested motive with an open curiosity to the customer experience and what they need, in balance.

In other words, true excellence comes from an individual’s desire to be awesome, and serve people awesomely as an expression of their awesomeness.

It does not come from people doing the minimum to get by, which is the case for most employees in most businesses and why you experience mediocrity as a consumer every day.

If you’ve been thinking about joining the Clear and Open Community, now is the time. I’m going to be teaching my new course, Open to Excellence, live, in the weekly webcasts beginning in April. This is an opportunity to get ongoing, live coaching and accountability before it becomes a self-paced online course. More details to come in the coming weeks.

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