Confession: Family Feud is one of my all-time favourite game shows. I haven’t watched a full episode in ages, but when I flick past the Game channel and it’s on I stop until someone complains. I feel validated when my response is on the board, (even more so if it was the most popular answer), and get excited when the families get to 180 on the bonus round, two questions left, will they make 200!?! I am literally on the edge of my seat. I shout out the answers, I get exasperated when they aren’t on the board, I am fully invested for them. I think it has to be one of the greatest game shows ever.
Often I wonder who the 100 random people are, (especially when the answers are ridiculous), and where/how they’re being surveyed. Is there someone in a shopping mall with a laptop asking seemingly random questions to accumulate this data? Do people reply to email messages? Is that why the phone is ringing at dinner time?
It would really upset me and burst my bubble if 100 random people aren’t actually asked. So if you know that’s how it happens, (like if you know what’s really in Chicken Nuggets), don’t tell me. I wish to remain blissfully unaware.
Oftentimes the answers to the questions on Family Feud make me shake my head. Did someone really say that? How did Ketchup not make the list of 5 most popular hot-dog toppings? Who thinks Arbor Day is one of the most important National holidays? Really people, just who are you surveying?
Surveys also make me think about listening. Who are you listening to? How well are you listening? Did you clarify what you were hearing? How limited were the options for opinions? Did you really hear what was being said?
Listening is hard work. Listening well is exhausting. Listening well to children is… whatever is after exhausting.
But when you listen, when you really hear what people are saying, you have a lot of excited, edified people. And since DisneyWorld is the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ you gotta know that Disney listens well.
I was surprised to read in Inside the Magic Kingdom that Disney uses a lot of surveys to ask their guests for feedback. I was surprised because surveys are boring, they take up time and, let’s be honest-I only fill out a survey when I have something negative to say. (Anyone else?)
But I also expected Disney to use several types of surveys to get their data. So many companies do it. I imagine Disney surveys are even very colourful and maybe Tinkerbell flies across the screen every now and then. Really though I don’t really want to delve into their surveying techniques.
The book touches on a second way that Disney Executives/Decision Makers gain feedback: through their employees. They really value the feedback of their employees because the employees are on the front lines, interacting directly with guests. They know how annoyed people are when an entire building of restrooms are shut down for cleaning at the same time, or the most inconvenient place to store cups in a restaurant. Anyone who has worked for anyone else has been reminded that employees are the ‘face’ of the company, but how many employees feel like they are the ‘ears’?
This got me thinking to how I gain feedback from my own ’employees’. All that crying and carrying on from my Terrible Two Year Old is a form of feedback. The attitude from my almost-tweens is another form of feedback. I love it when the feedback comes in the form of hugs, kisses, giggles, high-fives and ‘best-day-ever’s.
How well do I listen? How well do I hear? How many opportunities do I give for feedback?
At the end of each day in our house we ask the kids what their favourite part of the day was. Many nights it’s simply the last thing they did before bed, but there are days when something important sticks out and they coin it ‘favourite’ hours after it’s happened. By listening to those simple sentences I’ve learned who their favourite babysitters are, what friends are important to them, why they didn’t enjoy an outing, things that make them angry or sad.
I can watch what they carry around the house. Recently they received pictures from their pen-pals and they have carried them all over the house, tucked them into books to stay safe, one was even taken for show and tell. Likewise with certain stuffed animals, shirts and mementos of special outings. By watching I hear what is important to them.
Even temper tantrums are an attempt at being heard. They aren’t tolerated here and I don’t listen until you can tell me what you want to say while you are still and not screeching, but a temper tantrum tips me off to the fact that someone isn’t being heard, someone isn’t being understood, someone is frustrated. I can learn lots if I take the time to listen to temper tantrums; like the fact that people don’t like to be rushed at our house, or if I just gave so-and-so a chance I would learn that they really can put on their shoes/squeeze the toothpaste/spell their name without my help.
Listening is so very important. Listening is so very hard. Listening is a skill to be learned and taught.
I think we can hear a lot indirectly. We can hear what people are feeling and thinking by watching their actions and attitudes. But I also think we should ask more. I think we should invite more opportunities for feedback. Simple things, like what kind of dinners would you like to eat? More in-depth questions like; how did that make you feel? Even the hard to ask questions like: What can I do better?
I think we all know what it’s like to feel unheard, to feel misunderstood. I think we all long to have someone hear and understand us. No matter our age, gender or roles. And I think if I asked 100 random people what they could do better….
SURVEY SAYS: Listen.