How a Pizza Order Reminded me to Listen

My girlfriend and I genuinely try to stay healthy. We take runs together, long bike rides together, and typically eat healthy. So when we have an off week, like we did two weeks ago, we start to get a little concerned that we’re falling behind. That Saturday, we found ourselves craving a lazy night staying in with pizza and a horror movie. Even though the movie was supposed to be one of the scariest around (V/H/S, and it completely lives up to it’s reputation), we were more frightened by another lazy night of unhealthy food. We decided that if we got a veggie pizza and a small salad from Domino’s, we could get the best of both worlds. At least it’s a little healthier, right?

                                                         Pictured: Pure healthiness

We walked into Domino’s to place an order for takeout, and took a seat on the hard plastic bench while they prepared our dinner. After a few minutes, the manager came from the back to inform us that they didn’t have any more salad ingredients left (namely, lettuce). He apologized, took 20% off of our pizza, and offered free bread sticks as compensation. We graciously declined the offer for the bread sticks, telling him that we appreciated the offer but only ordered the salad because it was a lighter side. Ten minutes passed, and the manager came back out with our pizza. He kept the 20% discount applied, but this time, upped the compensation ante with a free order of Hot Lava Chocolate Cakes. Melissa and I both looked at each other with a “of course” glance, but thankfully accepted the generous offer. Maybe he thought we were playing hardball and trying to score a better side for free? That night, we ate the veggie pizza, and left the Hot Lava Chocolate Cakes for my roommate to devour.
Now, on the surface, what Domino’s did was incredible. The manager not only personally apologized, he gave us a generous discount, and two times tried to right the wrong with a complimentary side. I have no doubt that he’s a great manager, and was trying to rectify the issue and ensure that we left as satisfied customers. And because we’re not particularly picky people, we did leave satisfied (even if slightly amused). But the more I got to thinking about the transaction, the more I realized that it often reflects what happens in the communications industry: How often are we so eager to make a customer happy, that we don’t even listen to what they’re explicitly telling us?
While we didn’t outright say that we were only interested in eating healthy foods, and didn’t even want to be tempted by something that wasn’t healthy, we had given enough information through conversation that conveyed this.

I think the problem may lie in that a lot of us (especially in the communications field) think of ourselves as natural communicators and problem solvers. It doesn’t matter if the position is in sales, public relations, or customer service; we’re all guilty of forgetting the 60/40 listening rule. The 60/40 rule holds that you should listen 60% of the time, and talk 40% of the time (note to single people: also a great rule for dating).  Sometimes, we’re so eager to prove that we understand what the client/customer wants, that don’t stop to listen to what they’re saying.

                                                 Not applying the 40/60 rule

While I was happy with my experience at Domino’s, I’m still applying the lessons from my  experience to my personal and professional life. Sometimes, we all need a gentle reminder of what it feels like to be on the other side of a conversation. The other lesson I learned: next time have the necessary ingredients at home to make a salad. Just in case.

11 comments on “How a Pizza Order Reminded me to Listen

  1. Reblogged this on Writing, editing, marketing & design and commented:
    Great PR post about how even with the best intentions, communication fails if we don’t truly listen to what people say. This post was written by Steve, PR consultant for 2 Rivers Communications, on his own PR blog at “A Brave New World.”

  2. Great post! I think I’ll use it in my Oral Communications class. We already covered listening, but I’m not sure they heard me! 🙂

    • Thank you very much! I’m incredibly honored that you want to use it as an example in your class! And ha- maybe you’ll have to incorporate a megaphone, like the woman in the final picture! 🙂

  3. The idea of only talking 40% of the time also lessens the chance of me putting my foot into my mouth. Not that it ever happens… 😉

    Great post, Dianna.

    • Hey Sioux! I actually wrote this post (Dianna reblogged it), but thank you for visiting and the kind words! And that’s another way to look at the 60/40 rule…good thing you’ve never heard had it happen to you before (me neither)! 🙂

  4. Perfect example of how what we intend isn’t always what is interpreted. Wow! That is dedication…didn’t eat a bite of the volcano. Thanks for sharing.

    • Linda, thank you for reading! And thanks for recognizing just how hard it was to give those volcanoes up. Although now I keep finding myself wondering what they taste like (stay strong, stay strong)…..

  5. It’s always a good idea to listen – nice post.

  6. So true! I enjoyed your story.

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