The 10-Second or 10-Foot Rule and You!

Accountability Authenticity Communication


Key Point: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve referred to this quote by the famous and sadly, recently deceased poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, many times during my writing. Recently I read an interesting Forbes article based on this renowned quote and its relationship to customer experience. The following story in this piece struck a chord with me:

“AT&T’s renewed focus on making its stores the customer service leader in its category. It now has two J.D. Power customer service awards to show for it. AT&T conducted focus group research to develop its ‘10 feet or 10 seconds’ method of greeting a customer. One focus group was greeted within 10 feet or 10 seconds of entering the store. The second group was not greeted nor told how long they would have to wait for service. Each group waited exactly three minutes to be served, and not a second more. Controlling for all other factors, AT&T consistently found that the first group had a significantly better perception of the brand because they ‘felt’ recognized and acknowledged.” 

This research got me thinking about the 10-second and 10-foot rule as it might apply to you and me. What happens in the first 10 seconds or 10 feet when people intersect with us? How do we make them feel? Do they feel recognized and acknowledged? This reminds me of the wonderful greeting of the tribe that  I wrote about in a previous blog. Translated, the greeting goes… “I see you.” The greeted responds… “I am here.” Customer experience matters and so does the experience we have with other teammates, family, and everyone we interact with. The feeling starts in the first 10 seconds and/or feet and is completed as our personal interaction concludes. Over time, what we build is essentially our personal brand… That’s what people will remember.

Character Moves: 

  1. Be mindful of how people feel about you after the first 10 seconds or 10 feet. If we’ve got our heads in our iPad, make people wait, etc, how does that really make them feel? How different is that from immediate eye contact, a warm smile and a greeting that states, “I see you”? Establish your 10-foot or 10-second rule. 
  2. Conclude every interaction with “The Value Given Rule.” Each time spent with another human involves a concluding moment. To what extent does it end with you giving another something of greater value, your care, attention, insight, listening, and so on? This does not mean that we can’t have a disagreement or that all interactions are cream puffs and sugar coated. However, if after every connection the other(s) feel that you have given them something useful, they will remember that feeling about you. 
  3. Be intentional about the perception of your personal “brand.” How do you want people to remember the way you made them feel? “Lorne made me feel ____?” We will develop a personal brand experience whether we think about it or not. What will be yours’? 

Making people feel in the Triangle, 


Edited and published by Garrett Rubis