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Archive for March, 2008

Who’s YOUR customer?

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I’ve been on a Customer Service reading binge lately. My employer wants to develop a regular program to make our service more consistently good, and I’ve involved myself.

One of my favorite writers on this subject is the anonymous author of the Waiter Rant blog. In a very recent article, he writes from a customer perspective, and the person providing him excellent service was his chef:

Oh sure, I’ve dined in some expensive places during the past few weeks, but when you experience hunger sated by human kindness, well, that beats all the three star Michelin Chefs in the world combined.

It’s long been my position that a manager must treat his or her employees the way they want employees to treat their customers. I’ve seen it work too much and too well to believe otherwise. This little tale illustrates why it works.

Go read the full story about his Miracle Pizza.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 27th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Posted in Business

It’s Document Freedom Day

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Document Freedom Day 2008

Happy Document Freedom Day, everyone!

Today is Document Freedom Day: Roughly 200 teams from more than 60 countries worldwide are organising local activities to raise awareness for Document Freedom and Open Standards. To support the initiatives surrounding the first day to celebrate document liberation, DFD starter packs containing a DFD flag, t-shirts and leaflets have been sent to the first 100 registered teams over the past weeks.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 26th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Left Field

Being a good customer

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As it came to be my turn in line at the grocery store today, the cashier gave me The Standard Greeting (“Hello, how are you…” delivered in a lifeless monotone and with eyes down) and I responded as if she’d really meant it.

“I’m good! How are you doing?!” I said.

When she sneaked a slightly-off-balance look to make sure of me, I met her eyes with an expression that sincerely invited her to come on over and play in my sandbox. (Thanks, Jonathan Altfeld, for that frame!)

It was a tiny and fleeting grin she gave me, but I felt like I’d won a prize. 🙂

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 25th, 2008 at 11:30 pm

I wish I knew…

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…what you thought about this blog. What do you want to see? What do you like? Is there an article you’d like to put here, or a NLPer you’d like to see writing here besides little ol’ me?

Let me know in the comments or via the contact form.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 23rd, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Administrivia

It’s in all the papers, so it must be true

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An interesting article from Psych Central News charges the media with disseminating the “chemical imbalance” nonsense theory of mental illness:

…there are few scientists who will rise to its defense, and some prominent psychiatrists publicly acknowledge that the serotonin hypothesis is more metaphor than fact. As the current study documents, when asked for evidence, reporters were unable to cite peer-reviewed primary articles in support of the theory.

As someone who’s spent significant time with mentally ill people (Patients! At work! Really!) I’ve consistently failed to find a reason to believe there’s a bio-chemical cause for mental illness. It simply fails the logic tests as well as violating everything I’ve been able to learn about neurology. The idea that there’s one simple thing behind such complex and varied behavior is just, well, simplistic. Financially lucrative if you manufacture drugs, but not justifiable.

Full article at: Biochemical Roots of Depression Challenged

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 23rd, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Neuro,Psych

Emotional states and decision-making

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Jennifer Lerner of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University heads up their Laboratory for Decision Science.

A recent interview with Ms. Lerner outlines her research on the effects that different emotional states (specifically, fear versus anger) have on the making of decisions:

We hypothesized that fear and anger would actually have opposing effects on people’s risk perceptions. In particular, we predicted that fear would lead to a pessimistic outlook, while anger would lead to an optimistic outlook when it came to risk perception.

In our early laboratory studies, we found that experimentally induced fear and anger did indeed have these opposite effects on risk perception.

Read the interview: Jennifer Lerner on Emotion, Judgment and Public Policy

(Hat tip to Security guru Bruce Schneier)

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 23rd, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Tom and Kim are to be in the UK

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Tom Vizzini says he and Kim McFarland are headed for the UK this summer:

Signing up quickly will save you a lot of money and assure your spot in the training!

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 18th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Posted in Training

Thinking like a programmer

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Some of you may remember Michal Wallace. I lost track of him a long time ago and sort of accidentally found him recently. He has a blog called “without an e” and it’s very cool. Mostly about programming, it also approaches non-computer-programming problems from a programmer’s perspective.

Here’s a recent example: “Refactoring GTD (Getting Things Done) for Email”. He uses Python code to illustrate two ways of thinking about what he’s doing. (If you’re unfamiliar with David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” productivity philosophy/practice, see Mr. Allen’s Web page.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: one of the best things I have ever done for myself was to learn the basics of computer programming, and I recommend it to anyone. Michal’s example above is one reason why.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 17th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Programming

Does Language Shape Experience? We can’t decide.

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Remember the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis? Bandler and Grinder wrote about it in The Structure of Magic. I don’t recall if they mentioned it by name, though. The basic idea is that our language shapes our perceptions. I’ve been told that it’s been Soundly Disproven By Science.

And then along comes this article, titled “Babies See Pure Color, but Adults Peer Through Prism of Language“, in Wired Science:

When infant eyes absorb a world of virgin visions, colors are processed purely, in a pre-linguistic parts of the brain. As adults, colors are processed in the brain’s language centers, refracted by the concepts we have for them.

Thanks for the pointer, Boingboing.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 17th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Linguistic,Neuro,Psych

Coaching or Therapy via Internet?

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The Freakonomics Blog points to a recent article (Net Gains for Mental Health) in the London Times:

Type “online counsellor” into any internet search engine and hundreds of thousands of results will appear: with a click of the mouse, and a glance at a screen, you, too, can be cured of your depression, phobias and eating disorders, go the claims. Unbelieveable? Perhaps not. A growing body of research has found that when – and this is crucial – it is carried out responsibly, and kept specific, online therapy is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the rising levels of mental ill-health.

Some of us have been doing this sort of thing for a while. I’ve coached people via e-mail, Instant Messaging, and phone. I’m always careful to test — even more often than while face-to-face — and I’m far more likely to be explicit and overt. I can’t say I like doing it as much as face-to-face, but it can work.

I wouldn’t want an inexperienced or poorly-trained person doing it, though.

What do you think?

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 14th, 2008 at 6:26 pm