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Have you ever watched an old-fashioned delicatessen counterman or woman work?

For one thing, they work fast.

And unless you find them during a rare moment of leisure, they’re strictly business. When one transaction is finished, they’ll say, “Next?”

If the customer they’ve called is off somewhere, chatting or not paying attention, a second later and that word comes flying out again: “Next!”

One transaction is done and all attention is paid to you guessed it, the one coming up.

This, as I see it, is a beautiful Zen metaphor, a reminder that when you give everything to what is happening NOW, you get the payoff called the “pleasantness of presentness.”

It’s essential we do this, whether we’re in sales, customer service, management, and especially in the mechanical arts, such as school bus driving or flying planes. The past is interesting, and it may even contain lessons, but we’ll get to those in the future, when we can give over our entire consciousness to them.

But NOW, we need to address the things relevant to what is in front of us.

Sellers, especially when the next prospect pops up in front of them, as on the phone, have to wipe away vestiges of the last one, especially if it was negative.

Service people can’t blame all customers, or make this one atone for the sins of the last.

And drivers and pilots can’t spend a second considering the debris that they just avoided. Once it’s in the rearview, it must stay there.

So, how do we stay in the here and now?

(1) Take one deep breath between transactions, to remind yourself that the time is NOW.

(2) When you drift, have an image or a thought that you use to refocus. I use the image of a triangle. When I superimpose that on what I’m seeing, I return to NOW.

(3) Don’t hold back or resist fully doing what you’re doing. You can’t be here and now and saying, “I hate this” at the same time. Just do it, without commentary.

And if these don’t help, just say “Next!”

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone®, You Can Sell Anything By Telephone! and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable,” published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He holds the rank of Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: [email protected]


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  • Posted On November 5, 2006
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