December 6 Proofs Note from the Editor

Dec. 5, 2011

By Kevin Henry
Editor, Proofs

It was a normal Wednesday night coming home from the Greater New York Dental Meeting. I was sitting on the American Airlines flight that was backing out of the gate at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and soon would be heading north to Tulsa. I must admit, sitting in that seat and looking out the window, I was fading fast. I was tired after a productive and busy GNYDM, so the flights from New York to Dallas-Forth Worth to Tulsa were just what the doctor ordered. No cell phone on and no crises to deal with … for the time being. Just peace and quiet (other than the incessant chatting from the guy next to me in 15B … you know who you are, dude. The earphones I had on and my closed eyes? That was my sign for “shush now.”).

Anyway, backing out of the gate at DFW, there was a loud BANG on the airplane and everything suddenly went dark and quiet. We kept backing out (we were being pushed out by the gate crew) as the pilot came on and told us that the auxiliary power unit had suddenly shut off. Hearing that, I just knew we were heading for a delay after the maintenance crew fixed the APU (as the pilot began to call it) so I sighed and prepared for an even later arrival home. However, the pilot came back on and said that they would try to restart the APU and it should be just fine to fly on to Tulsa without a delay.

“Should????” I thought to myself. Did he just say, “Should???” My restful thoughts quickly turned into a physics exercise. If the APU is restarted and mysteriously shuts off again after we take off, it’s going to be a very unpleasant end to the trip … and my life. I fly a lot and there are very, very few times that I get nervous about being in the air. Suddenly this was one of them.

The APU restarted. The lights came back on. The engines roared back to life. Everything seemed to be just fine … but no one ever came back to tell us everything was just fine. We turned toward the runway and sat there for a moment. My mind was racing … and soon so was our plane down the runway.

The 37-minute flight to Tulsa was uneventful. No problems. No noises. No plunges out of the sky. Despite the smooth flight, I couldn’t rest and I certainly couldn’t turn off my mind from the “what if” scenarios. I think it would’ve helped me if the pilot had offered a simple explanation of why the APU shut off, and reassured us that the problem had been solved, but there was never another word spoken about it. We just flew on to Tulsa.

As I’ve looked back on that, it makes me wonder how many times a simple explanation could alleviate so many problems or worries … in life and in business. Have you really taken the time to explain everything to a potential client? Have you really taken the time to present the facts that could get rid of a patient’s fears about making a purchase? Have you really taken the time to ask if there were any other questions you could answer?

Many times, each of us can make a situation worse or more traumatic than it really is. Was there a greater chance of that flight from DFW to Tulsa crashing more than any other flight? No, but I had the perception that it could happen, and that quickly turned into a possible reality in my mind.

When you’re making your goals for 2012, I hope you’ll put “find and alleviate the fears of my clients” on that list. You might be surprised the difference it makes for you and your customers. It would’ve made a difference for me last Wednesday night.

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