Recently, I had to call my internet provider, Cox Communications, to change the phone number they had listed on my account. They had my brother’s number instead of mine, so they were unable to get a hold of me, which caused me to have to pay some type of late fee. When I called customer service I expected to have a fight on my hands. I thought I would speak to some guy who was grumpy after a long shift spent listening to people complain.
While the phone rang I got all my notes lined out, detailing why it was such an injustice that they had charged me that fee when it was their fault for having the wrong phone number. Years of watching lawyers argue on TV was finally going to pay off. Perry Mason and Atticus Finch were about to be proud.
“Thank you for calling Cox Communications, my name is Tim. How can I help you?” spoke a very cheerful voice. Of course you are so cheerful, Tim, I thought. You are probably the one who took my extra $25, I said to myself as I planned to launch my opening statements.
“Yes, Tim, I need you to change the phone number you have listed on my account and I need you to talk to someone about getting a late charged removed,” I said using my big boy voice.
“I am very sorry about that sir. Let me take care of this for you,” Tim said. “I will make sure I correct this issue.”
From there, Tim patiently listened to my complaint and updated my account information. Not only did he refund my $25, but he even got me a better deal that will save me $10 a month and provide me with faster internet (apparently I was using a modem that was only slightly better than the old screechy AOL dial up).
In the book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, author John G. Miller discusses personal accountability and how today’s society has “a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining and procrastination.” Miller says that instead of asking “who dropped the ball?” we should ask “how can I help solve the problem.”
My call with Tim from Cox Communications is a perfect example of this. Tim could have said that he was not responsible for Cox taking my $25 and shifted the blame to someone else. But instead he asked, “what can I do to fix this?” I think John G. Miller would feel that Tim handled the situation perfectly.
On the contrary, I had been constantly shifting blame. It was Cox’s fault for not having the right number. It was my brother’s fault for not letting me know that they were calling his phone. I wanted to shift blame and pick a fight rather than take responsibility. I blame that on watching too many lawyer shows. Just kidding. Hopefully I will use this experience going forward to help me develop more personal accountability in all aspects of my life.