The Goldfish vs. The Brocolli

How do we assist our customers needs? Our capacity to see the world from another person’s perspective develops early in life. When we look at how little children gain the perspective-taking skill, we can see the two tendencies observable in adults: 

  1. Being closed
  2. Being open to the other’s perspective.

In one experiment, psychologists from Berkeley University studied fourteen-month-old and eighteen-month-old toddlers. The toddlers were sitting in front of two bowls: One with goldfish crackers and one with broccoli.

The toddlers tasted the food from both bowls. They all liked goldfish more than broccoli. Later, the toddlers watched a researcher express disgust while tasting the crackers and delight while tasting the broccoli. Then, the researcher held out her hand and asked for some food. The toddlers could offer either the crackers or the broccoli to the researcher. What did they do?

Most of the fourteen-month-olds shared what they liked themselves – the goldfish crackers. The toddlers didn’t understand that the other person had her own want, which is different from their own. However, most of the eighteen-month-olds, handed broccoli to the researcher. These kids understood that they like goldfish crackers themselves but the researcher likes something else.

The behavior of the fourteen-month-olds can rear its tiny head when you focus too much on your own viewpoint and ignore how others react to your ideas, products and services. You remain blind to other perspectives, which leads to giving goldfish crackers to those who are longing for broccoli. You simply don’t see and don’t know what other people want from you.

In contrast, the behavior of the eighteen-month-olds is when you open up to the perspectives of other people; you observe how they react to your work or whatever you do for them. You keep your perspective as your own and see the other view as the other view.

So ask yourselves next time a customer expresses frustration through body language or tone: Are you giving them the broccoli? Are you giving them what they want?

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