Life can sometimes be surprising and it’s amazing where I get some of my ideas for including in training sessions on Customer Service.

Recently I needed to have a crown fitted to one of my teeth.  I had been assigned a new dentist when I opted to stay with the NHS rather than go private and my first appointment went well – although I have to say she only looked about 18 and couldn’t be qualified in dentistry – could she?

She was gentle and cheerful and diagnosed the need for a crown, so I duly booked in (and started a big savings campaign)  As the appointment grew ever nearer, I became nervous as it is a long time a) to sit still and b) for fear of pain.


Still – I walked in very brave – had the first injection and all was going well until she started to drill.  As she started to drill she began to hum – some tuneless number which I couldn’t identify – but loud enough to hear above the drill.  At first I thought ‘how cute’ it can take away my discomfort and then as she stopped drilling to check the work, she stopped humming and when she started again she started with the tuneless hum again.  Now by the tenth time she had drilled and started and stopped humming I was getting increasingly annoyed.

Coupled with that – every time she checked the progress and picked up the drill again she said ‘Good job’

Between humming and ‘good job’ I couldn’t wait for the appointment to end!

It got me thinking about our listening skills and how we become repetitive about how we acknowledge what people have said.  When listening face to face we nod and respond with certain words and phrases – often agreeing or disagreeing – with facial expressions that concur with our words.  We are very rarely repetitive – or are we?

I know that sometimes when I’m listening – the ‘internal telephone’ kicks in and I start to listen to something inside my head which needs attending to – eg have I taken the tea out of the freezer for tonight or did I make that call back to a customer? – and I go into ‘auto pilot’ or ‘humming mode’

It’s even worse by phone because you cannot see the person and so often you can get ‘right – right – right’ or ‘yes – yes – yes’ repeatedly which hardly confirms you are listening – you are just making noises!

Listening is a key skill – be it face to face – by phone or in the VMRs (virtual meeting rooms) which are becoming popular in this lockdown time.  Two phrases spring to mind to reinforce this:

God gave you two ears and one mouth – use them in those proportions


Are you listening or waiting to speak?

Enough said – ‘good job’ for reading this and now I’ll hum ‘Always look on the Bright Side of Life’