It’s human nature to want things done a certain way…. especially if you’re paying for it!

As a Lifestyle Manager, my entire business model is based on performing certain tasks that my clients don’t have the time to tackle… that’s the “science” part of what I do.  The “art” of my job is handling these tasks in a such a way that my clients feel the same way as if they completed the actual task. One of my favorite compliments to hear from a client is “I couldn’t have done it any better myself!”.

But how do I know exactly what my clients want so I can have a satisfied customer each and every time?  My experience as a personal concierge has taught me that the secret lies in two things that are simple in concept, but difficult in practice…. communication and listening.

To help people understand how important these concepts are to my role and, more importantly, what happens when they’re not correctly put into practice, I like to have them participate in a communication exercise.  In fact, I subjected some members of my BNI group to just such an exercise last week!

The premise of one of my favorite exercises is simple… one person gives instructions on how to make a PB&J Sandwich and the other person must follow the instructions exactly as they are given.  I have the two participants face back to back so the only form of communication is verbal.  Seems easy enough, right? 

More often than not, the instructions given follow along these lines:

  1. Take a slice of bread
  2. Put peanut butter on it
  3. Take a second slice of bread
  4. Put jelly on that slice
  5. Press the slices of bread together

If the person was following the instructions exactly as outlined above, they won’t be able to follow the last step.  Why?  Because this is what their sandwich will look like!

Many times, we assume we know exactly how to do things, especially if we have done them many times before. We also assume that other people understand exactly what we are trying to say and we’ll usually get frustrated when we learn they haven’t done it the way we wanted them too.  But look at the above… the sandwich turned out exactly as instructed, so whose fault is that?

Once the laughter dies down, the participants understand the point and the second set of instructions are closer to these:

  1. Pick up a bag of bread, untwist the closure and open bag.
  2. Take out two full slices of bread, separate slices, place slices on the table.
  3. Open a jar of peanut butter by twisting the lid counterclockwise. Place lid on table, remove foil seal (if present) and throw seal in garbage.
  4. Pick up a knife by the handle. Insert the knife into the jar of peanut butter. Withdraw the knife from the jar while collecting peanut butter on end of knife.
  5. Run knife across one slice of bread spreading peanut butter evenly along the bread surface.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 with the second slice of bread and the jar of jelly.
  7. Place knife on table.
  8. Pick up the two slices of bread and press them together such that the peanut butter and jelly meet.

Resulting in:

This exercise illustrates the importance of being clear and deliberate about our communication as well as why we need to pay attention to detail. If we don’t, we run the risk of turning something that should be fairly simple into something that is overly complicated.

The Twenty Fifth Hour At Your Service has a long list of satisfied clients across Northern New Jersey for the simple reason that we listen and communicate.  Having mastered these critical skills, we are able to continually deliver what the client desires and expects; done the way they want it, when they want it.

For more information on how we can make your life easier, contact Narrin Schwartz for a complimentary conversation, at 973-452-4894 or