Efficiency, Effectiveness, Excuses

Friends, I am on the other side of an experience and I want to share what I learned. Undoubtedly you have had one of these experiences yourself, but perhaps you haven’t had time to delve into the intricacies and refreshing learnings, after the task is finally checked off your list. Let’s explore together using my recent example.

With the popularization of credit cards, mileage rewards, and the plethora of shenanigans to “get a deal,” I recently switched my United Airlines Mileage Visa card for a Southwest Mileage Visa card, with the same banking company (Chase in case you wonder.)  Due to frequent travel visiting my aging parents on a more convenient airline, I found that I have not been traveling on United for quite some time. In my desire to “get a deal,” I called to cancel my United card. The request, consuming an inordinate amount of time to get a real person on the line, was met with a lengthy dissuasion speech. I was told that surrendering the card with its 19 years of credit would eliminate all of my rewards miles and my excellent credit. Eventually I ended up keeping the card. (It is in my file cabinet not being used.) I negotiated a no-annual-fee for this non-using card.

This month, I received my United/Chase billing statement and saw a $60 annual fee. I was annoyed, and in a rare free moment, I got on the phone to remedy the charge. I had been on the phone for over an hour when the situation was finally all said and done. It had taken me several attempts through a crap-shit-frustrating load of select-1, -2, -3, -4 or -5, to link up with a real human being. After answering all of the security questions to prove that I am indeed who I say I am, I was able to recount my issue.

I’ll bypass the final remedy in my sharing with you because it is not of interest. Nor is the scolding I gave to the customer service representative when I said I did not want the new no-annual-fee card which was coming in the mail; she said I had to have the card; I said if it is stolen from my mail or home it is another issue to deal with; she said well fraudulent activities are covered; I said well my time, energy and attention to deal with the potential fraud is NOT covered, just like this call dealing with my current fee charge is not covered. She apologized.

In my frustration, I paused and began to share what was really happening for me. I said I do not want an apology. What I want is presence; intelligent presence. If I had spoken to you within 15 minutes of my trying to reach you, I would not be so angry. But since I had to go through many calls and navigate an impersonal electronic system, being cut off and toggled between the bank and the airline, my demeanor is ugly. I know you do not deserve my reaction. People do not want to be treated this way. But, I do wish you a good day.

In efficiency, we sacrifice effectiveness. Then, the excuses arise. In our monotonous world of finance, we have many obstacles to give attention to rather than address money matters. When we as a society have little interest in dealing with money, we delegate actions to artificial intelligence to complete transactions. It is true that for some routine tasks, these mechanisms work. And we forget about our unpleasant interactions because, you know, the task finally gets handled and life is too short. But when and where does the pendulum swing, or at least inch, the other way?

This year’s Somatic Finance theme of dignity came forward when I said to the customer service representative, “People do not want to be treated this way.”  I would not want my parents, my clients, my friends, my colleagues or anyone, to be treated this way. Punching buttons through limited menu choices that do not address a nuanced situation, or repeating yourself to a robot with no option to reach a live human, does not inspire dignity or presence. It is dehumanizing. Well, of course it is; in those instances we are talking to automated metal and wires. I would rather speak to dirt, leaves and rocks than to a heartless, impenetrable network of technology.

Being able to receive attention for attending to a situation lands us in a place of dignity. Our culture is wrapped up in being efficient, shrugging off a problem with apologies, and losing the essence of effectiveness. Do we recognize that effectiveness is the ultimate objective? Follow me here.

Effectiveness is not perfection. Effectiveness is taking all of the matters into consideration – efficiency, perfection, attention, care, skill – and allowing the outcome to be the optimum result for that UNIQUE situation. The optimum result is being effective for what is happening in that moment. When we are attending to money, finances, handling of “rewards and too good to be true” deals, we must hold in the heart and ground of the situation – what deeply matters – in that moment – to us as humans. All humans want dignity, especially when money is involved.  Holding this torch for all of us and gathered from my internal dignified strength, my dignity inspired me to speak up and share with the customer service representative my point: People do not want to be treated this way.

We don’t. She doesn’t. Her boss doesn’t.

These are the nano moves to nurture a dignified culture. Because as we begin to embody our own dignity, we see where it is missing, and we begin to cultivate the space for it to exist for others.

May we be awake to real connection with real interactions when the situation calls for it.
May we benefit from technology to quickly complete a task when the situation calls for it.
May we be wise to recognize the difference, and apply presence when a human needs attention.

Softening the edges of my dignity meter,