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50 The PCB Design Magazine • October 2015 restaurant 30 years ago, and it resulted in a per- manent sense of disgust. We gave that restau- rant the black spot and we will never be back. We all must be careful in our own profes- sional lives to avoid setting negative expecta- tions with our customers and giving them the opportunity to give us a black spot. Since I work in customer support, I see many scenarios that could result in negative expectations and I am constantly working with my staff to identify and minimize those potential problems before they ever happen. It could be something as in- nocent as missing a support request and leav- ing a customer stranded with a problem so that they are wary of calling in again. Or it could be the inadvertent presentation of an attitude that projects a sense of indifference to the customer so they feel as if their problems don't matter. But as I have mentioned before, every work relationship is ultimately customer support. Whether it's your co-worker asking for help with a problem, or your boss assigning you a new task when you are trying to finish what's in front of you, how we treat each of these sit- uations is an extension of our own customer support skills. How we react to these scenarios will ultimately shape our work relationships ei- ther negatively or positively. Instead of getting annoyed at the interruptions in our work day, try turning it around to be a positive moment instead; help the co-worker get through the problem and work with your boss to best man- age all your tasks. In this way you can avoid the dreaded black spot in the eyes of your co- workers by eliminating any possible negative expectations. When I was a boy I set a negative expecta- tion for myself that people who flew airplanes were somehow endowed with a greater set of skills and abilities than I could ever achieve. They were pilots after all, something that I could never be. I don't know why I thought that, I just did—I had put a black spot on my- self. As an adult I decided to put this to the test and started working on getting my private pilot's license. But all throughout my training was the thought way down deep in the back of my mind that I was trying to do something that was for me unobtainable and therefore a complete waste of time. This thought continued as I passed my ground school. It continued through my dual pilot instruction and then on through my so- los. The day that I took that little airplane to the Hillsboro Airport and picked up my pilot examiner, the thought was still there. Even after successfully passing my practical test and being signed off as a private pilot, the thought was still there. It was only after I was flying back to my home field in Aurora that I suddenly real- ized that the negative expectation that I had labeled myself with was WRONG. I had given myself a black spot and had allowed that can- cerous monkey to ride my back for 20 years. But now, I had beaten it and was an official private pilot. My apologies to anyone listening in to Aurora's Unicom that day; I hope my cries of joy didn't break your eardrums. How about you? Have you given yourself any black spots of negative expectations that have held you back in life? I started designing circuit boards more than 30 years ago and my skills grew with each board that I worked on. But the idea of being a high- speed designer seemed to be out of my reach. That, I reasoned, was only for the select few, the elite group of "really good designers" that I did not consider myself part of. Yep, it was the pi- lot story all over again. Then one day I was as- Figure 1: Pirates who were found guilty of various transgressions were presented with a black spot like this. tim's takeaways AVOIDING THE BLACK SPOT OF NEGATIVE ExPECTATIONS

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