Customer Service – Are You Even Listening?

customer service reading a script

The customer is not always right.  The computer is not always right.  They system is not always right.

But do you know how to make it right if your clients or customers have a problem?

I have been a business owner for several years.  There is one thing that drives me every morning rain or shine, weekend or week day, feast or famine.

It is not the benefits of setting my own schedule, the ability to choose the clients I work with, the freedom to explore new opportunities or the control of my finances; although these are all great perks, they are not the driver. There is only one true core to my business:

It is a privilege and honor to provide service to my clients.

I remind myself of this after each win with a client – and when there is a challenge.  This week is a great example.  I spoke to two different clients who were thrilled with our work.  I spoke to three others who are beginning new opportunities.  I also spoke to one who was not happy.

I do not always get it right the first time.  I let my clients know this and encourage open feedback.  Bless my client, he is a very polite, respectful gentleman.  Yet, he was not happy with the initial direction.  He was kind in attempting to relate his thoughts.

I encouraged him to give me open, straightforward feedback, even if it meant he hated it. This allowed him to be more honest with me which allows me to zero in on exactly what I need to do.  I encouraged the negative feedback and then thanked him for providing it to me.

Not all companies have the luxury or desire to be selective in choosing their clients.  Some offer services that cater to a wide range of markets.  Some want to be so big that the more clients the merrier the company.  The revenues and conquering of markets and competitors takes a backseat to that fundamental core of having the privilege to serve. Clients take a backseat to expansion and profits.

I personally experienced this today.  I have a service provider that is huge.  I am just one little guppy in their ocean of customers.  I noticed two errors and called to have them corrected.

Long story short – the computer made two mistakes.  The first was reading the system wrong and showing a bill for twice the amount owed.  The second was a reconnect charge when service was not interrupted.

I spoke to three representatives, two initial level and one the next level up.  I was told that the system made a mistake on the billing but not on the fee.  Each one was staunch in telling me that since it was showing on the system that the service was interrupted, than it was true, nothing could be done, pay the fee.

I was told, “I am verbalizing to you that the system says this happened.” I have to admit, that is the first time I have ever had someone tell me they were ‘verbalizing’ something to me.  Where I come from, we normally said, “And I am telling you…”

I was also told that the only solution they could provide is that I would have to pay the fee. In what world is that a solution?  I will admit, I am very impressed with the wordplay used by this organization.

I walked away from this experience feeling that I had just experienced three conversations, no, not conversations, three sessions of reading from a script to a blank wall – and I was the blank wall.

More importantly, I walked away grateful.  This was a wonderful reminder to me to remember my core guiding principle: it is a privilege and honor to provide service to my clients.

Back to my original question: do you know how to make it right if your client has a problem?

No matter the size of your company, your customer base or service you provide; here are three things that will help make it right for your clients when there is a challenge:



Bend if Possible


My biggest frustration is feeling as though with the three individuals I talked to, no one listened.  They spoke to me, but not with me.  If one person had said, “let me make sure I understand this” and reiterated what I had asked, I would have felt like a client – not a blank wall.

Listening is not, “I understand you are frustrated and I am sorry to hear that.”  No you are not.  That is a script.  When a client explains a frustration and you respond with a canned line, that is not listening.  That is responding.

My second biggest frustration is the refusal to recognize that there might be an issue with a system, process or program.  If it screwed up one thing, is it not possible it screwed up another?  If one of those three people took the time to say, “There is a possibility that our computer screwed up more than one thing” it would have validated my thoughts. Even if there was not a darn thing they could do about it.

My last frustration, and most minor, was the ‘solution’ was not a solution.  Since they had not heard me, no recognized that there might be an error there was no reason to attempt any type of solution.

The bottom line is, I am paying a fee – no matter what the discussion.  Perhaps I would not have such a bee in my bonnet about it had I been treated like a person.  Validating frustration, recognizing the potential for an error – even if it cannot be corrected – will go a long way in keeping clients.

Sometimes a solution is not possible; however, there are times that it is possible to bend – offer an alternative to bridge the gap even if you cannot repave the road.

In customer service it is paramount to remember that behind each account name and number there is an actual person, not a revenue source, for whom you have the privilege to serve. You may forget this, but they will not when they choose another service provider.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.


You Can Plan and Prepare but You Can Not Control

Preparation and planning are wonderful things.  They make us feel in control, in charge, confident and sometimes invincible. 

Then your dogs pee in the middle of your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  More on this later.

Keys to successful interviews, client presentations, performance reviews or speaking engagement hinges on preparation, this I do not argue.

What happens when it does not go exactly as planned or anticipated? 

That, my friends, will set you apart. 

Those are the golden opportunities, not horrific destruction of careers!

It is in those moments that you can truly shine. 

I believe that when glitches happen, it is life giving you an opportunity to show what you are really made of, why you are the person for the job.

Technical glitch during a client presentation or a speaking engagement?  No problem, you know the material, you are passionate about what you do!  See this is the opportunity to genuinely show your expertise and commitment by landing the plane without the aid of technology!

In an interview and you say the wrong thing or go down a rabbit hole?  Grab this opportunity to show grace under pressure and humor in guiding the conversation back to the original point and establishing yourself as a cool-as-a-cucumber prospect with quick wits able to turn a potentially bad situation right back around to point.

Those moments happen in the everyday world of business, not just the major milestones.  Can you be prepared for these unexpected flubs?  Not really, but you can recognize that they happen and allow yourself some slack in just going with it the best you can.

Odds are, when you are relaxed and let your natural expertise guide you, you will end up looking better than had everything gone exactly as planned.

I took a two-month hiatus from speaking and workshops to focus on a new coaching program.  Not being in front of crowds for a while, I let my guard down about life’s flubs. 

Lucky for me, I have dogs to remind me that these little opportunities are always present. 

This past weekend I accepted my son’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and we planned it out.  He came by to video it for me, I prepared two checks (one for ALS and one for American Cancer Society), we picked a spot in the backyard and planned the shooting before the rain came. 

The video, it seemed, went off without a hitch.  Mission accomplished.

My son wanted to see my reaction, so we watched the video.  What we saw instead were two of my dogs peeing all over the place and the third one trying to get the ice out of the bucket. 

There was no way I was going to allow my son so much pleasure in dumping another bucket over my head, so we just posted it as is. 

What followed was several private messages and some on Facebook all praising the pups for absolutely stealing the show.

Apparently, they knew what they were doing. Watch the video by clicking here:

ALS Challenge upstaged by dogs

I did not shine or be brilliant, I got upstaged by peeing dogs.  But because of this, the video was seen and shared more than it probably would have been without them.  I am hoping this translates to not only additional support for ALS, but also the American Cancer Society (near and dear to my heart).

Thank you puppies for the reminder of life’s unexpected flubs and giving me a good laugh.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


The 3 Scripts You Need BEFORE You Make Any Call

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.comYou received a message with the request that you call the person back.  It could be a job opportunity or prospective client.  Either way, it is a very important call.

A new job or a new lucrative revenue stream could depend upon this call.


No pressure, of course.


Before you pick up that phone in haste and excitement, make sure you are prepared.


Do you have three versions of your message ready?


Yes, I said three.  Here is why:


  1. If the person you wish to speaks with answers the phone.  This is best case scenario and the one most people are prepared for.
  2. If you reach their voicemail.  This is where people might stumble.  They either prepare for voicemail or the actual person – but not both.
  3. If you reach a gatekeeper.  This is the one that people tend to forget.


You should be prepared for each scenario so that way, no matter which option you get, you come across confident, collected and professional.


I honestly cannot tell you the number of times I have answered the phone to be met with “Oh, I didn’t expect you to answer.”  I dropped the niceties a long time ago and now gently, and with a smile ask, “Then why did you call me?”


The normal answer: “I expected to get your voicemail.”


This is not the best way to start a conversation with someone you are hoping will hire you.


Over the years I have received my fair share of voicemails that were pretty close to train wrecks.  It took some time to get to the point, there was a lot of reiteration of information, hurrying through the phone number (or forgetting it) and a weak conclusion.


This is the least pressure call of all – you do not even have to talk to an actual person.


Here are some pointers for all three calls:


  1.  Use your full name, not just your first name.  Odds are they know more than one person with your first name.  You may not be top of mind when you call, even if they do not.
  2. If you are calling a prospect, be sure to use your first and last name along with your company name.
  3. Thank them for calling or contacting you, which leads into:
  4. Let them know you are returning their call or their message per their request.  They may have forgotten they called you.
  5. If you are leaving a voicemail, let them know the date and time that you are leaving the message – electronic date stamping is not infallible.
  6. If talking to the person of interest and they hesitate or seem to not remember why they called you, offer a gentle nudge.  Gentle, not straight out, “You were calling to offer me the position.”
  7. If you get a gatekeeper, pay attention to their name if given when answering the phone.  Then say hello using their name, give your first and last name and tell them you were returning a call to Mr./Ms. Person of Interest.
  8. You do not need to give the entire story to the gatekeeper.  Just let them know you are returning the call and if the person of interest is not available ask if you may leave a message.  Then thank them at the end.
  9. If giving your phone number to a gatekeeper or voicemail, speak slowly.  Picture in your mind writing each number down as you say it, this will allow the person on the other end enough time to get it the first time.
  10. At the end of your voicemail, thank them, repeat your phone number and let them know when you would be available if convenient for them.
  11. No matter whom you speak to – thank them.  Manners matter.
  12. Smile.  Whether you talk to a person or machine, smile.  It comes through in your voice.  You sound positive and confident.


With a little preparation you will be able to deliver the perfect call or message no matter what the situation and seal that deal!


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer





So You are a People Person, Great. I am a Dog Person.



I mean, c’mon, what does that really mean?


You love working with all people? Doubt it. 

You communicate well with all people? Doubt it.


When I say I am a dog person, it conveys that I love all dogs.  Not exactly true.  I’m not a fan of little yippy dogs.  I like big dogs, Great Pyrenees is my favorite breed.  Anything under 60 pounds is, in my eyes, a small dog. Two of my three dogs outweigh me. 


The third is a Puggle, who reigns supreme over the other two; and she does not yip.


Saying you are a people person is an empty statement, a space filler and meaningless.  It truly does not describe you but rather conveys that you are a generalist.


Stop making generalizations about yourself.  There is nothing that will tune an audience of 1 or 100 out quicker than making generalizations.


Why?  Because they apply to no one.  Therefore, if it is not important, why listen?


When you are job searching, advancing in your career, engaging new clients or networking the one thing you do not want to happen is people tuning you out.  Game over.


You are not a generality, you are not insignificant; you provide or add value. 


The key is you have to discover how.


There may be many ways in which you do this so start with asking yourself the following questions and writing down your answers:


What do I do?

How do I do it?

Whom do I work with?

What is the benefit they receive from working with me? 


Now, if you were to use all the information you just gathered from the above questions you would have quite the lengthy elevator pitch and end up sounding like a yippy dog after the first minute or two. 


You don’t want to be a yippy dog; so let’s not stop there.


Now is the time to cut it down for impact.  Let me give you a bit of insight about the people you are talking to: we have a short attention span.  Please do not force us to try to politely concentrate for three minutes when we got lost after the first 15 seconds. 


It is painful.


We need to the point, attention-getting statements that peak our interest.  Give me something to hold on to a hook, a morsel.  If you blurt out everything about yourself what motivation do I have to continue the conversation?




I already know everything about you.


And odds are I have misinterpreted something.


Boil it down to the most important value that you bring and how it relates to me.


That is how you get my attention and that is how you get me to ask you a question and engage in conversation.


Yippy dogs keep yipping; big dogs bark less frequency and with more power.  Big dogs get attention, yippy dogs get ignored.


Be your own big dog.  They are awesome.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Do You Lead or Check Boxes?


One of my paramount fundamentals in working with clients is expressing their value.


It is not enough to tell people that you have a skill set, been in your industry x number of years or have a certain title – what matters is the value you bring.


Imagine two candidates both with similar experience and skill sets.  Imagine having a meeting, whether it is a interview or client meeting and you ask them (or think of when reading their resume/LinkedIn/bio): “Tell me about working at XYZ Company.”


Candidate A responds: “I’m a manager there overseeing a team of five and work with clients in managing their financial assets.”


Candidate B responds: “I partner with, mentor and lead a team of five in bringing information, security and planning to our clients in all aspects of their finances from identifying their needs and goals, researching options, opportunities and challenges to strategically planning out short term and long term plans, goals and action steps.  We then maintain constant communication within the team and with our clients to ensure we hit our marks and have earned a great reputation of success and trust which merited 65% of all our new clients are referrals from current clients.”


Candidate A basically told you their title, but nothing else.


Candidate B told not only told you they are a manager but gave you insight as to how they manage their people and their clients.  They expressed their value: a mentor and team leader to their team; focused and dedicated to their clients and gave me some proof in the pudding.


Your value sets you apart from everyone else, it gets you noticed and bottom line – it gets you hired.


You need to answer the question of value before they ask.  If Candidate A told me that I would pretty much be done with the conversation.  They did not bring anything to the table enough to peak my interest to ask them more.  Remember, you want my business or for me to hire you – it is your job to excite me about you as a candidate; not for me to dig it out of you.


If I was speaking to Candidate B I would definitely want to ask more.  They sold themselves without being cocky or expecting me to be able to read between the lines.


It is the natural mindset of an interviewer – no matter a potential boss or client – to be skeptical.  The example I give my clients is if you are in sales and state that you were second in the district the immediate internal thought by the potential boss/client is “what, out of three?”


They are bombarded with candidates and so many candidates misrepresent themselves that it is no wonder that the potentials are skeptical.  They are overwhelmed.  The last thing you want them to do is think, because they more than likely take it to a negative place.  Sell your value not your title.


You might notice Candidate B’s answer is quite a bit longer without trying to infuse hot key words.  Also, it would be very easy to assume Candidate A is a box checker and Candidate B is a leader.   He/she didn’t say it – they demonstrated it.


There are two reasons why you do not communicate your value: either you don’t know how or you don’t add any.


No value: starting with a title and ending with duties.


Value: Start with the result of what you do and work backward.  How do people benefit from what you do leads to how you do it.  That is how you express your value.


If you are still struggling on how to identify and express your value I just happen to know someone that can help you with that… me!


Ok, shameless little plug, sorry.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Getting Back To Basics

All About Me - Career Polish Inc.

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group about job searching, resumes, interviewing and networking.  I asked the group leader if there was any point in particular that he wanted me to focus on as there is only so much we can cover in one session.


He said he felt many people were frustrated and had been at it awhile so maybe something about getting back to the basics.


My first thought was the basics of the resume: function, form, message etc and possibly getting back to the basics of networking.


When I let it sink in, the terms of “getting back to” I realized I needed to go back to the very beginning.


Not the last job, the last degree, the last networking meeting; the very beginning: the mindset.


That is where it all starts.


I am always surprised at how many people looking to get hired for the right job introduce themselves as either their title or what they used to do.  Similarly, those looking to get hired by the right client introduce themselves as their title or their company.


I have said it before and I will say it again (many, many times):


You are not your title.

You are not your company

You are not a process or widget.


You are a person offering value and solutions.


That, kids, is the basics.


What is your value, what solutions do you offer?


In the meeting when I explain this I got a lot of nods in agreement which then turned to deer in the headlight looks when I passed out 3×5 cards and asked them to write at the top “I am” and complete it without the use of a title or job, only their value.


Oh sure, it all sounds like fun and games until someone makes you do something about it.


Once you have the I am statement, go back and look at your resume and see if it really supports what you wrote.  Check your networking speeches, too.


Then, to really mix things up, I asked them to think about what they really want to do: what is that ideal position and contribution they could be making.


Then really own it, see yourself in this role.  As such, what suggestions would you have to someone looking to obtain this position in terms of steps they could take.  Perhaps it is rewriting your resume, joining certain community or networking groups, brushing up on one skill set – what are some tangible steps that someone should do to reach your level.


Then pick one and do it.


That’s right – hold yourself accountable.


But here is the rub – only list four or five things – and stay flexible.


Rewrite your resume and be open to whom to submit it.

Rework your networking speech and adapt it for each situation.

Engage with new people and be open for new connections.


When we put ourselves in the position of thinking as if we have already achieved this goal our actions and non-actions align with it.  The non-actions are things like our body language and our confidence.


If you keep saying to yourself, “I’ll never find the right job” or “every time I apply I get rejected” then guess what – you are writing your own path.


Start by seeing yourself in that position and tell yourself, “I am the VP of Product Development for a small start up bringing new ideas, new clients and a great revenue stream while providing a great advantage for our clients.”


Then notice how things will begin to change.  You will stand a little straighter, sound more confident and start meeting the people that get you to that position.


Let me break it down to the basics: if you can’t see it and be it you won’t achieve it.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Word Swap: Leader vs. Manager on a Resume

QuestionsI have a pet peeve phrase that I am on a one person crusade to eliminate, especially during the interviewing process: people person.  Ick.  That is my professional, grown-up synopsis of that phrase: ick.  When someone would tell me they were a “people person” I always wanted to respond, “I’m a dog person.”  It is just such a meaningless, ambiguous phrase.


The word manage or manager has the same effect on me.  It is generic.    It is another ick word for me.


I have seen a trend in replacing “manager” with “leader” in a general way on resumes.


That would be great if it were earnest.


However, replacing the word does not negate the meaning.


In my opinion as a professional resume writer and coach, manager and leader have a much different meaning.  In a nutshell a manager oversees while a leader creates and drives.


When you use the term manager or manage in your resume you are leaving your audience short-handed.  Because it is such a generic term they need the parameters of what you do in order to determine what type of manager you were – and if you were any good at it.


Think about it, in your own experience I am sure you have had different types of managers.  There are those that tell you what to do, retreat to their office, never communicate and bring more of a dictatorship style environment.


Then there are managers that coach, mentor, communicate, roll up their sleeves and dive in to make sure you and the team is on pace, progressing and surpassing expectations.  They listen, they help you become a better individual contributor while bringing cohesion and engagement to the team.


If you were a manager, which one were you?  In not giving the parameters you are allowing your audience to decide based on their personal experiences.  Not a wise move.


Replacing manager with leader is not enough to demonstrate which type of manager you were or are now.


I’ll say it again: you have to give parameters.  How did you lead, what were your actions, how did you contribute, what did you do to help individual performers, the team overall and the company as a whole and what were the results?


Unless you prove it, simply giving yourself a better sounding title is not enough.


In business communication you have to prove it.  Consumers are wise, we don’t believe everything we read, we are skeptical, we want proof and then we want you to prove it again.  Consumers in this situation are your clients or prospective employers.


Now don’t get me wrong, there are certain environments where you need managers who are setting the targets and hands off – type one above.  It is fully dependent on the environment and industry.  If this is what is needed by your prospective employer and this is you then by all means sell it.  Be the manager they need.


Know your audience, their needs and your value.  When the two match then it is your job to prove it.  Not just by using one word over another, but by demonstrating your value by describing all the parameters and results.


Don’t get lazy and do a word swap – take the time to identify what you bring to the table and articulate that to your audience in order to assure they have a full understanding of who you are, what you do and most importantly what you can do for them.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Not Reaching a Goal – Maybe You Need a Change to the People in Your Personal Environment

Me and Frank out Dancing
Me and Frank out Dancing

You have all the right tools, knowledge and ambition yet you still can’t reach that goal.  Whether it be landing the right job or client – it just seems out of reach.  So what are you missing?

It may not be a question of what you are missing, rather what you need to subtract.

If you feel you have all the right pieces put in place take a look at your personal environment; more specifically the people in your environment.

Do you have a bunch of Debbie Downers or Doubting Thomas-es?  Do the people around you invite you in with their energy, make you laugh, support you, inspire you and just generally make you feel good?

Have you ever heard the phrase you become the people you associate with the most?  There is a bit to that, you know.

If you are surrounded by “poor me” and “it will never work” attitudes you are naturally going to get the happy, positive, encouragement and quite frankly life sucked right out of you.

One person is probably not going to represent all the above mentioned positive qualities.  It is the lovely combination of unique individuals in your life that bring in the sum whole of a can’t-fail environment.

If you have ever read any of my blogs or know me personally then you know about my main support system:

Jackie: my bestest friend, confidant, twin, co-conspirator and kicker-in-the-butt.

Jake: my son, the center of my world, the one that can make me the most proud and most angry in a matter of seconds, the young unrecognized philosopher and the one that keeps me centered.

Jeff: a best friend who has known me for a quarter of a century, the one that sees the world in black and white, point A to point B and keeps me on my toes by always allowing for another viewpoint.

My parents: my dad who passed 18 years ago but impacted me, along with my grandmother, more than any other person in my life, my mom who supports me by allowing me to make my own way and Jim, my step-dad who brings balance to the very strong-willed women.

But there are many others that I can’t possibly go into, friends and family that give something of themselves to me through their friendship for which I am eternally grateful.

One of those friends is Frank.

Frank and I grew up in the same neighborhood with him being a year (or so) older than I but his brother and I were in the same grade.  Talk to anyone in my town and just say “Frank” and they knew exactly who you were talking about – not Frank who or which Frank – there is only one Frank.

He is, in a word – infectious.  His laughter, smile, wit, intelligence and amazingly positive attitude about life and appreciation for each and every day.  Frank is the guy that men instantly bond to and women fall in love with – yes, Frank is that guy.  Because he radiates life.

Here is the thing about Frank, it is not just that he makes you feel good when you are around him; he is inspiring.

Frank doesn’t have goals.  Frank has missions.  Come hell or high water if he sets his mind to something he is going to do it, and by God, do it well.

When I talk to people who bemoan that they can’t do something because they don’t have the skills, abilities, physical traits, blah, blah, blah – or –because they have always been stuck in a certain typecast, position, industry, blah, blah, blah – I think of Frank.

Frank is the epitome of no boundaries.

Here are a few things about Frank:

He is a world-class Olympic Athlete.

He hit on Natalie Cole.

He was pretty much told by Stevie Wonder once not to sing his song on an elevator (great story).

He is a former DJ and Bouncer.

He is a poet.

He is an inspirational speaker.

He is a highly sought after ballroom dancer.

He is an ADA Employment Consultant at a major university.

He’s a chick magnet – just ask any of his male friends.

And he is just getting started…

He has never seen himself in a box or only as one type of person, job, task, performance.  He makes a determination to try something new and off he goes with boundless energy.  Shortly thereafter we begin to get a stream on Facebook about how is accomplishing this task.


He inspires me because he refused to be classified, stop reinventing himself, giving of himself to others and appreciate every opportunity whether it presented itself to him or he had to knock the door down to go get it.

When I think I can’t – I think of Frank.  I don’t know that can’t exists in his vocabulary.  Having someone like this in my life keeps my personal environment nothing short of positive.  So no matter what is going on in my personal or professional life, he is always there as a supporter, inspiration and source of complete positive energy.

It is because of my support system that my personal environment is fun, full of energy, inspiration, accountability, excitement, joy and love.  With this type of environment any hurdle isn’t a monumental task, it is merely a challenge that my friends encourage me to conquer.

Oh, and one more thing about Frank: he was born with a condition that resulted in him being a wheelchair user for life.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Don’t Say My Name, Say My Name…

Did you know that when someone uses your name while speaking to you that it is not always a good thing?


I had a conversation with my best friend the other day about this and she said she thought the other person would be trying to be closer or make the conversation more intimate by using your name.  Not so much.


Let me explain the difference.


When you first meet someone it is perfectly acceptable and understandable to say their name often when speaking to them as it helps you remember it.  When you run into someone that you have not seen for a while or only see sporadically saying their name during conversation again helps you remember their name.  This is a good thing – they want to remember your name.  Go ahead on – say my name, say my name.


It is when you have formed some sort of relationship with a person and they begin using your name that you should realize they are distancing themselves from you or they are not happy with you on some level.


My son always knew when I was not happy with him – I would use his name.  For example:


If I said:  “I’m sorry, you are planning on doing what?” that was a more joking, ‘are you insane’ kind of question but still probably going to let him do it, just making sure he hasn’t completely lost all his marbles or that I heard him correctly.


But if I said, “I’m sorry, Jacob, you are planning on doing what?” it meant I found out about the hidden plan or there was no way in hell he was going anywhere near where he thought he was.


Now, according to my son, the only reason a person has a middle name is so they know when their parents are really ticked at them.  When he was little he met a friend of mine who did not have a middle name.  My little boy looked at him and with the sincerest face asked, “Then what does your mom call you when she is mad at you?”


Just by using his name my son knew the line had been crossed.  Think about it, when you are mad at your spouse isn’t that when you use their name?  Otherwise you say nice things like hon, sweetie, pookey or nothing at all – it is implied.


When talking to a client or business associate and they use your name they are giving you a signal that there is something wrong there.  Perhaps they are not happy with you or they are thinking about using another service provider and they are laying the foundation for separating themselves from you.


The caveat here is if they always use your name.  Then it is an established pattern.  What I am talking about is if they start using your name out of nowhere.


I saw this with a friend of mine.  He was no boy scout by any means but a very fun, loving person.  He made a personal decision to go through some life-coaching and threw himself into it 110%.  I applauded him for this because he did it to help him in certain areas of his life.  Yay you.


What happened after thought is I noticed when he was talking to certain people, business associates and friends, he started using their name during conversations.  I knew immediately he was putting up an invisible hand to them telling them he no longer wanted them in his personal space.


These were people he had good relationships with and got along very well with but now he was removing himself and elevating himself just by using their name.  In this small step he was revealing that he now viewed them as less than desirable to be associated with – not because anything they did but because he changed how he viewed himself.


He really was being quite the butt because the people he was distancing were good people.  Just because he condemned himself for his non-boy scout behavior he was condemning them as well.  The words rocks and glass houses comes to mind…


People might distance themselves because they are upset with you or perhaps they have changed something within themselves.  This is just a little heads up that in out of the blue start using your name in conversation is a little hint that something has changed.


By knowing this little unique tidbit you can now take the opportunity if it happens to you to head off a possible challenging or bad situation.  Information is power – use it wisely.  Instead of full out confronting the person about what is wrong try approaching it in a positive and more subtle way.


The clue itself is subtle and sometimes the person isn’t fully aware that they are giving themselves away.  If you respond with, “Are you mad with me, have I don’t something to upset you?” or anything of the like you will probably catch them off guard.  In doing so you probably will not get to the heart of the matter.


Instead, if it is a client, thank them again for the opportunity to work with them.  Then tell them that you value them and their opinion and would like to know if they think there is anything you can do to improve your service.


Approach the subject gently and with honest care and compassion which will help you get to the underlying issue.  Perhaps you need to check in more regularly with this person because they are feeling neglected.  Or perhaps their personal life has gone to pot and they just need a friend.


You don’t know the underlying issue so do not assume, but use the clue to help uncover what might be hiding underneath and retain a valued relationship.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.