Category Archives: Personal development

Perceptual Positions

percetual positionsBy the time you read this thankfully all the campaigning will be over and we’ll know one way or the other.

There’s been a bit of a difference of opinion in the Cooper household. Hubby and I have homed in on different merits for and against remaining/exiting the EU!

Seeing things from different perspectives extends far beyond which way to vote in the EU referendum. When I’m coaching managers to get the best from their team or training staff in dealing with customer complaints encouraging them to see things from other people’s perspectives is such an important part of resolving difficult situations.

One technique uses that of perceptual positions, which helps you imagine what difficult situations look like when viewed through others’ eyes, in other words to imagine what others perceive by imagining that you are that other person.

This involves looking at it from 3 different perspectives

  • First position is your natural perspective. You are fully aware of what you think and feel regardless of those around you. This is of course the perspective we find most familiar. But as you focus on it you may only then start to realise what is important to you and what you want from this interaction. You will probably become more aware of what you believe and value, and more likely to be assertive about your own needs.
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  • Second position is about stepping away from our own position and imagining what it’s like to be the other person, experiencing the situation as they would.Some people are very good at considering others’ needs and concerns; for others imagining second position can be a completely alien view. When you are really in their shoes everything you do or say makes perfect sense to you.
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    When you do this well you start to get a sense of what the other believes and values; what is important to them, and a better understanding of what they want. And the better you get at this the more empathy and rapport you create. You might even be able to predict how they might respond in this situation. You are certainly in a better position to offer better customer service to a customer support to a team member.
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  • Third position is an independent position where you act as a detached observer noticing what’s happening between two other people. I like to think of this as the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘The Consultant’s perspective’ What is important is that this position is an impartial insight into a situation.Imagine you are watching and listening to each of the people involved as they communicate without getting involved yourself, without having to feel their feelings and emotions.
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    From this new perspective, you more likely to get an overview of the situation, the bigger picture. You can start to notice patterns and become aware of similarities and differences between the parties involved, and you’re better able to analyse the situation logically with less emotional involvement. What’s also important is you can start to see yourself as others see you.
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    From this position what advice would you give ‘first position’?

When to use Perceptual Positions

It can be particularly useful when you are dealing with a situation where you are having strong negative feelings towards the other party, or do not understand their actions.

For example:

  • When a team member is acting in a way that you find destructive to the task in hand, or negative towards others in the team.
  • In customer service training to illustrate how to handle an angry and (to our mind) unreasonable customer

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward in for example sales situation when it will help to see things from the clients’ positions or in a consultant position to see the situation better and help the client achieve their outcomes easier.

It works best when you physically change position when moving from 1st position to 2nd position and then 3rd position; e.g. in 2nd position move round to sit or stand when the other person would normally see or stand when you meet with them, and when the ‘fly on the wall’ stand up and physically look down on the situation.

The real learning comes by stepping out of first position to explore second and third positions and see what light it sheds on a situation.

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Give staff ownership

Here’s the 12th and final part in my 12 blog series onfreedom - empowerment

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

12. Ownership

Give individual team members ownership over particular tasks. This gives a sense of pride and ownership.

And with ownership comes the desire to get things right.

When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.

Which invariably speeds things up for the customer too!

 

Download my Free Guide7 reasons 3d image clear
“7 Reasons why Customer Service Training Fails”



What can Social Media teach us about embracing new ideas?

I’ve just been talking to a friend who is a work from home Mum with 2 small children. We got chatting about social media, and I suddenly found myself giving her all sorts of advice. Am I an expert? Absolutely not (and that’s why I’m interviewing Josiah Mackenzie on “Making Best Use of Social Media in Marketing Your Hotel” for my interview series “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge“.) But I have learnt enough in the last 12 months to apply the principles to my own business. And I know where to turn to when I need help.

Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to our business. It’s all too easy to think we can get by, because it hasn’t done us any harm in the past.  The thing is as the saying goes “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get, what you’ve always got.” In other words, if we want to make improvements in our business, we need to learn and be prepared to take on board new ideas, new trends and new technology. 

Here are three stages to embracing new ideas:

  1. We need to understand how they can help. Without that understanding there is little incentive. In the case of social media I know hoteliers who are still ignoring TripAdvisor, let alone embracing what the likes of Twitter or Facebook can do for their business.
  2. Once we get our head around that, we need to set objectives. It’s all too easy to get taken away with a new idea and throw all our energy into it, in the hope that something sticks. Do we use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, a blog, YouTube, all of them ……? Well; that all depends on our objective – who is our target audience – potential customers, suppliers, joint venture partners, and are we using it to bring in business, demonstrate credibility, build rapport….?
  3. Finally, we need to think about the strategy – how we are going to implement it. And this might not mean going it alone. Who can help us, give advice on the best approach, who can talk us through setting it up, how often and how much time will we devote to this, can we outsource the setting up or day to day implementation to take the headache away?

So, just what can social media teach us about embracing new ideas that we can apply to anything new in our businesses?  It has reminded me that:

  • We can learn new ‘tricks’ if we understand why it can help our business
  • We need to be clear on our objectives, so we know what we are aiming to achieve, and can measure its success
  • We need to put a strategy in place  – the how, who, where and when

And before you know it we’ll be talking like an expert, too……

Caroline Cooper

P.S. Join me as I interview 10 hotel industry ‘experts’ over the coming two weeks in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge“.


93% is unconscious

Have you noticed how we are able to just ‘click’ with some people, and with others it’s a real uphill struggle?  It’s all to do with rapport.  The ability to build rapport is key in any business, not just hospitality.  It has such an impact on our relationships – not only with customers, but also with suppliers and staff, in turn making our job a lot easier and more enjoyable. 
 
What is rapport
   
Rapport is a relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people.  It is what happens at an unconscious level that makes us ‘click’ and is enhanced by a perception of likeness and liking.  It includes the ability to see the other person’s point of view (even though you may not necessarily agree with it), and is a vital element in any form of communication, including the business context.

Indicators of good rapport include
      Similar body posture
      Gesture in similar ways
      Same rhythm in movement and speech
      Breathing levels are similar
      Voice tone

Why is rapport important?
   
How often have you heard “She was so rude”, “He just didn’t seem to care”, “You don’t understand”, “I’m not sure if I trust him”.  Rapport gives the ability to relate to others in a way that creates a climate of trust, openness and understanding, it is a key part of building relationships in the business world.  Having the ability to build rapport helps with:
 
Customers: All things being equal people will have a better experience being served by people they can relate to, and are more likely to do business with people with whom they have good rapport.   And by maintaining that rapport throughout will enable us to identify what our customers really want, to help us provide the best services we can, and ultimately increase our chances of further business.  
 
Suppliers: Be it your butcher, your plumber or your accountant, having a good rapport usually leads to better service, puts us in a better position to negotiate when we need to, and makes it easier to ask for assistance when it’s needed. 

Your team: Having great rapport with your team will open up 2 way communication and builds trust.  You’ll get the best out of them if they feel comfortable to make suggestions, they are less likely to be critical of ideas offered to them, and for you it will be a lot easier to call in a favour when it’s needed.  And it makes for a more pleasant working environment all round.

And of course it’s important that our staff know how to build rapport too, so they can do their job effectively.

How to achieve great rapport

 
Think of people with whom you already have great rapport.  What is it you do, how do you communicate and what do you talk about?  All these factors can give us a clue to the key aspects of building rapport.  But what can you do in business if it doesn’t occur naturally?  You need to pay conscious attention to matching or mirroring (not mimicking) those elements that are part of natural rapport.

Research indicates that only 7% of our communication comes from the words that we use – for example the use of common expressions, terminology, etc.
How we say things – that is our tone, volume, pitch, emphasis – accounts for a further 38%.
And a massive 55% comes from a person’s appearance and physiology – how you sit or stand, your facial expressions and so on.

This means that  93% is unconscious.

So how do we make use of these factors?  Well, the closer we can match these (not mimic) to the other person the more likely we are to build rapport.

Let’s take each in turn:  

Tone

A part of building rapport is respecting the state, style and feelings of others – essential factors when dealing with complaints, and staff concerns; e.g. if someone is feeling frustrated by poor service show understanding for that frustration.  The biggest impact on this is our tone – Do we indicate an understanding for someone’s complaint rather than sounding defensive?  Do we sound empathetic towards a frustration instead of sounding irritated by it? And if someone is excited or happy about something, do we also show excitement or happiness, or do we dampen their mood through sounding bored or impatient.  The closer you match the other person’s tone the greater the degree of rapport.

Physiology

I am sure you have experienced a time when you have arrived somewhere and felt instantly out of place because you felt either under dressed or over dressed.  This is just one example of how our appearance matching those of others helps build rapport.  But this aspect also includes the wider and less obvious aspects of our body language, gestures and facial expressions, and can also extend to our actions.  Next time you are out, just take a look around you and you can easily spot people who are in rapport.  The way they stand or sit will mirror, their facial expressions will be similar and the chances are that when one reaches for their drink or to take a bite of food, the other person will do the same.  So to build rapport, ensure you match the other person – you don’t want to be too obvious about it, but it is surprisingly easy to do this without it appearing as if you are mimicking.

Of course, the more you know and understand your perfect customer, the easier it will be to match these aspects, and build great rapport – and attract and keep the customers you want!

And by remembering that the tone and physiology will be more unconscious ways to build rapport, next time you are in disagreement with someone (disagreement will usually be based on words i.e. just 7%) work on matching the other 93% – their tone and physiology – and you will be amazed at the impact this can have on your ability to reach agreement.

Words

What we actually talk about and the words we use will go some way to building rapport, so listen out for the terminology others use and try to use their terms rather than yours. But this also extends to showing common interests, common goals and common values.  So assuming your share these let them know, as these can help to bond you together.  A relationship with a customer will be a lot easier if you share something you have in common.  This doesn’t only apply to face to face communication – it also extends to any other forms of communication – so consider this in your marketing messages, on site promotions and any customer notices or information.


Are you an e-mail junkie? Part 3

Set up systems and rules

1. Spam filters
Getting the level of spam filtering just right can be difficult. If you’re worried about missing those important e-mails add their e-mail address to your white list.

2. Set up folders
Set up separate folders (in line with your normal filing system) and file your e-mails straight away to avoid having to spend hours searching for past e-mails. 

3. Set up rules
Consider creating rules for in coming mail from specified senders or with certain words in the subject line, so they go straight to the appropriate folder.  This is a great tool for non-urgent mail that you might want to review just once a week, e.g. newsletters or on line journals.

4. Set up different accounts
Having more than one e-mail account can help prevent your primary inbox becoming swamped, and help you filter what you get when.  For example, I have a separate account I use whenever giving my e-mail address to unknown sources, e.g. buying products on line. This account has the spam filter set at a higher level, so if my details do get passed on I am less likely to get bombarded with spam.  I also use another account for personal use, so I am not distracted during the day dealing with personal issues and equally I can filter out work mail when I want to switch off from the office.

So stop being an e-mail addict, and take some action today and see how much you improve your productivity over the coming weeks.


Are you an e-mail junkie? Part 2

Managing the volume of e-mails landing in your inbox

1. Pick up the phone
Do you remember the days when if you wanted to get a message to someone urgently you either picked up the phone or walked to their desk? How much of the mail you receive has been initiated by you in the first place? It’s often very tempting simply send an e-mail to ask a simple question, but then have a whole series of e-mails back and fourth (and time delay) before actually getting the answer you need? Yes, granted, there is an advantage if they are not available, but so often a two-minute phone call could get something done and dusted there and then, without the need for you to be checking every 15 minutes to see if you’ve had a response.

2. Stamping out the CYA culture
Do you have people in your team who feel the need to copy you in on everything they send out in an attempt to cover their a***? For every e-mail you receive internally that does not require direct action from you – make a point of highlighting this with the sender. If you purely want to be copied in for reference then ask that you be cc’d and setup your rules wizard for these items to be sent to a separate file.

3. Educate others
If you always respond to e-mails instantly you set up people’s expectations. With people who you deal with regularly let them know that you only check your e-mails twice a day and that it’s always better to call you if they need to contact you urgently.

4. Get off mailing lists
Most of us these days get tonnes of e-mails to promote products, newsletters, online periodicals, etc, that we either never read – or if we do have little value to your business. So have a purge and unsubscribe to all those you don’t need; if there is no option to unsubscribe (which any reputable company would do) then add the sender’s name to your blocked senders list.

Look out tomorrow for tips on setting up systems and rules.


Are you an e-mail junkie?

OK! I have to admit it – if I’m not careful I can be an e-mail junkie too. And it’s not just e-mail, but social networking too. It’s just so easy to get into the habit of checking e-mail and Twitter all day long – or having some form of ‘New Message’ pinging or appearing.

The trouble with e-mail or any type of distraction of this nature is that it loses your momentum.  Think of a day when you have really made great progress and achieved all you set out to do.  You probably got into the flow with minimal distractions.  E-mail is one of the biggest distractions and each time you hear that ‘bing’, even if you don’t open it straight away you are wondering who it is from or what it’s about.
 
So over the next three days I’ll be giving you my top tips to help you manage your e-mail more effectively.

Follow the normal rules of time management

1. Devote set times to checking e-mail
When you create your to do list schedule time to check your e-mails, prioritise tasks and complete things in priority order.  Complete the task you are working on before either moving onto the next. This includes leaving your mail unless absolutely necessary in order to complete the task in hand.  Would you allow a visitor to just drop by and demand your time? You’d expect them to make an appointment. So why should anyone sending an e-mail demand your attention when you’re in the middle of doing something else?

2. Remove distractions
Decide when is the best time for you to deal with your e-mails, and stick to this. Limit it to twice or maximum three times a day. The rest of the time either turn your e-mail program off altogether or at the very least disable the notification of new mail.

3. Your Challenge
This might take a bit of getting used to so here’s something for you to try for a week and see how you get on. (If it’s ESSENTIAL that you need to be IMMEDIATELY contacted by e-mail, then naturally this isn’t for you.)

1. Check your e-mail first thing in the morning
2. Then close the programme
3. See how long you can hold out before checking it again
4. When you open your e-mail programme check just how many (or how few) ‘urgent’, ‘must read it now’, ‘must do it now’ e-mails have arrived
5. Close the e-mail programme
6. See how long you can hold out
7. Repeat
8. Learn from the experience!!

Try to separate other functions from your e-mail, if at all possible, to avoid the temptation to look at your e-mails each time you open that programme.

Look out tomrrow for tips on managing the volume of e-mails.