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  • feedwordpress 20:39:21 on 2018/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , satisfaction,   

    Lessons Learned at UPS: Keep Calm and Carry On 

    2:11 p.m.

    I went to the UPS office to ship a small package before 3:00 p.m. which was the last pick up of the day. One woman was being waited on and there were two other people in front of me. However, the counter clerk appeared efficient, so I assumed the line would move quickly.

    Assumptions can be dangerous.

    The woman being waited on said she didn’t want to send her package through UPS. She just wanted to know what it would cost so she could compare it to other services. The employee was trying to determine a price but needed to enter information into the computer to be accurate. She didn’t have the information he needed and became irritated at him. Still trying to help her, he Facetimed with his supervisor. The supervisor couldn’t fix it, so he called a technician who promised to be at the store within ten minutes.

    At this point, the woman chastised the employee, said she didn’t understand why he couldn’t understand what she was saying and stormed out of the store.

    2:31 p.m.

    Next customer. This man gave the UPS clerk a package sealed in a United States Postal Service (USPS) envelope. The clerk explained that it couldn’t be sent in a USPS envelope from a UPS office as they were two different organizations. Clearly irritated, he began to give the worker a hard time. Once again, calm, polite and patient, the UPS man tried to find a solution and asked the customer if he had ever sent anything from UPS before. This way, he explained, he could look the account up in the computer and see what he could do. The customer responded, “let’s just pretend I have.” More explaining from the clerk. More defiance from the customer.

    2:50 p.m.

    Enter the UPS delivery man. He came to collect packages for his final pick up of the day. The woman in front of me interrupted the man in front of her to ask the clerk if she could get her package onto the truck. I said I had also come early to make sure my package went out today.

    The defiant customer turned toward me and exclaimed “are you blaming me for the delay?” Not wanting to end up as a post on social media that might go viral, I calmly said I wasn’t blaming anyone and just wanted to get my package out. The insolent customer muttered something to the clerk and stormed out of the store. The clerk thanked her for coming.

    Two down. One to go.

    3:04 p.m.

    The woman in front of me was returning a pair of shoes. Easy. I’d be waited on in no time. So, I thought. She originally purchased the shoes in a size 7 she told the clerk. Those were too small she continued, so she ordered them in an 8. They were shipped to her boyfriend’s house in another state, but her boyfriend broke up with her. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he has mental problems. He’s a mental health counselor, but in her opinion, he is the one who needs counseling. Anyway, she continued explaining to the UPS person behind the counter, she’s returning the size 8 because she thinks they are too big, but she’s not sure. They fit correctly at the toe, but her heels kept popping out. She wants to make sure that the return package shows her address and not the ex-boyfriend’s address.

    3:12 p.m.

    She also wrote a note explaining the situation that she’s included in the package. Would he like to hear it? Well, she’ll read it to him to see what he thinks. When she was done, she asked him if he thought it sounded okay. He nodded.

    At this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was really awake, or I was having a bad dream.

    3:22 p.m.

    The delivery driver returns. The shoe woman leaves. My turn. The clerk asks me if I’ve ever shipped from UPS before. I reply, “let’s pretend I have.” Not understanding my attempt at humor, I provided the information he needed, and he quickly completed the transaction.

    3:29 p.m.

    More than one hour later, I finally leave the store.

    Talking does not equal communication. Yet, many of us provide too many details, tend to over-explain, send long wordy emails and deliver hour long presentations that could have been presented in fifteen minutes. The results, especially at work, could be significant.

    If you’re not fully attentive, you may miss an email with important information. If you’re too busy talking and not listening, you may botch an important deal. If you’re too long winded, you could blow a job interview because you’re rambling, instead of making key points. Besides, according to author Joseph McCormack, our brains can’t handle it.

    McCormack says the human brain has the capacity to absorb 750 words per minute, but the average person can only speak 150 words per minute. That means an extra 600 words are floating around in there which gives us more time to tune out and get bored. So, if we’re chastising a worker, babbling to a clerk or taking too long to get to the point, chances are that person isn’t really hearing us.

    What’s the fix?

    Time Testing

    In our programs, we challenge people to present information in different time increments. For example, if their presentation is thirty minutes, we ask them to deliver it in thirty, twenty and even ten minutes. The results are typically astounding. Speakers start honing in on what’s important, eliminate unnecessary details and command attention for longer periods of time.

    Hit the Headline

    Since attention spans start dwindling after ten seconds, it’s important to grab attention as soon as you speak. Like a great headline that draws you in, your first few words should do the same. Make your most important point as soon as you start talking.

    Preparation

    There are many reasons people ramble including nerves, trying to impress and being unsure of how to draw others out. In business however, we observe the lack of preparation techniques. That’s not to say people don’t prepare. They do. But, instead of trying to cram ten pounds of information into a two-pound bag, learning how to effectively use message models will help even the most seasoned presenters condense information.

    Back to the UPS office. Perhaps the real communication lesson learned is from the UPS clerk. Attentive, calm, resourceful and patient. He was also outwardly non-judgmental, which is difficult when people appear hostile. He showed us that it’s important to take all kinds of communication seriously, but not personally. He barely talked. He just listened, which signals he understood their frustration even if he couldn’t fix the problem to their satisfaction.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:59:24 on 2018/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , story   

    Quick Tip #83: Opens and Closes 

    Nailing your opens and closes will help you turn boring talks into brilliant ones. Learn how and why so you can engage listeners and command attention.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 20:43:26 on 2018/10/29 Permalink
    Tags: bison, , , Karen, negotiation,   

    Don’t get buffaloed in negotiations: Use bison logic to achieve your ends. 

    We just returned from vacationing in Wyoming. Hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking through Grand Teton mountains and Yellowstone Park. What a great trip!

    Everywhere you go, you see bison, also known as buffalo. Like cows here at home, they calmly graze in the meadows, occasionally looking your way. Typically, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Only in Wyoming, these 2000-pound animals occasionally come down from the hills and out of the meadows to stroll along the side of the road alongside the traffic.

    On this particular day, our tour group was on bicycles, single file in a bike lane on a busy road. As we round the corner, we see them in front of us, less than 100 yards away. Not sure what to do, we quickly put on the brakes. Little by little, traffic on both sides of the road also comes to a standstill. Not knowing how these giant animals will react, you can’t exactly drive around them.

    As our guide pulled up, I asked, why do they do this, to which he answered because they can. What are you going to do, he joked, negotiate with them?

    I thought about it for a minute and answered yes because everything is a negotiation. That doesn’t mean acting foolishly. Like a chess game, it means paying attention, being patient and carefully calculating your next move.

    Let me tell you what I learned about negotiating with bison and how you can apply the same protocols in your life.

    1. Give them space

    Bison Protocol: Be patient and wait for them to cross the road or move ahead. Don’t beep your horn or try to pass them as you might agitate or scare them.

    People Protocol: When you are faced with an uncomfortable situation, it’s also important to be patient. That means being comfortable with the silence. Communicating, like negotiating is not always about talking.

    2. Don’t underestimate your opponent

    Bison Protocol: A bison, despite its enormous size, can run up to 35 mph if it feels like chasing you. It’s estimated the average human jogs at approximately 8 mph. So, it’s not likely you can outrun a bison. If he catches you, the outcome won’t be pretty.

    Earlier this year, a man was caught on video being chased by a bison after getting out of his car and taunting the animal as it walked on the side of the road in Yellowstone National park. The man is seen continually teasing the animal until it charged at him. He stopped, and the bison walked away. In July, a woman wasn’t so lucky. She was gored by a bison after she got too close.

    People Protocol: Think about the consequences of your words and actions in advance. This will prevent you from acting impulsively or saying whatever comes to mind at the moment. Even a few seconds of thoughtful preparation can help you gain greater control over the conversation.

    3. Provide value

    Bison Protocol: Writer Ayn Rand said, “a creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” When we put others first, outcomes are often different. Last year, tourists saw a baby bison and thought it was cold, so they picked it up and put it in the car. Unfortunately, when mommy came back, she wanted nothing to do with her baby and left it alone. Park rangers had to euthanize the animal because it would not have survived on its own.

    People Protocol: In business, the key to success is the value you provide for others. The people who put the bison in the car may have genuinely been trying to help. Unfortunately, they failed to anticipate reactions, responses and objections. When we do that in business, we are no longer seen as trusted advisors who have the best interest of others at heart.

    What’s interesting about the American bison is that they were almost hunted to extinction at the end of the 19th century. Earlier, in the 16th century, tens of millions of buffalo grazed in North America. Because they roam in herds, when one bison is killed, the other bison gather around it, making them easy targets. Public preservation efforts ultimately brought them back, but even today, the United States wild bison population is less than one percent of what it was in pre-colonial times.

    Yet, they are survivors. Their resilience and ability to overcome adversity is a great lesson for all of us.

    Lesson 1: The bison had a strong support network of people who wanted to save them. People also need to create strong networks to thrive.

    Lesson 2: Despite frigid winter temperatures, biting winds and land blanketed in snow, bison find alternative ways to survive. They move to lower elevations, grow a woolly undercoat and eat different vegetation. While most of us don’t have to survive such harsh elements, developing coping skills in different areas of our lives can help us overcome adversity.

    Lesson 3: Today, public and private groups actively help identify opportunities and create places where bison can safely thrive in large herds. Continually identifying new opportunities, educating ourselves and seeking solutions to challenges will help us flourish in our own environments.

    Even though I kept my distance, I learned a lot from the bison I saw. Their physical endurance, coping skills and ability to adapt through the centuries was truly inspiring and reminded me that anything is possible.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:51:00 on 2018/10/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Quick Tip #82: Power of the Pause 

    The PAUSE is one of the most powerful tools in your speaking toolbox. Learning to pause when speaking can change the way you are heard and perceived.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:50:06 on 2018/09/18 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Impression Management 

    The client wanted me to turn eight unprofessional storytellers into professional storytellers in four hours. At completion, her company had hired a professional video crew to tape these people telling their stories in two minutes or less, based on the tips we shared with them. The plan was to show their finished video stories at a corporate meeting. The crew was available for two hours, so the client said surely, I had plenty of time.

    Realizing she didn’t understand the time frame wasn’t realistic, I offered options including bringing multiple coaches with me, so we had more time to help each individual shape, craft and practice delivering their stories.

    The client didn’t want to pay for multiple coaches.

    I suggested that we prepare over multiple days.

    The client said they didn’t have more than a day. She said when they recorded their stories on video, I would be there to coach them through, so they would be receiving professional help.

    Besides, she wondered, if eight stories are less than two minutes long, that’s sixteen minutes. She pointed out the camera crew is there for two hours, so even if it takes some longer than others, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to have everyone tape their stories. She said that’s what her boss wants.

    No matter who her boss is, it’s not realistic.

    Telling a clear, crisp concise story is not a born trait. It’s something learned, honed and practiced. With instruction, worksheets, some pre-work and a very structured session plan, I was confident I could help them tell their stories more effectively than when they first walked into the room.

    However, even seasoned professionals often need multiple takes and on-the-spot coaching requires starting and stopping. Expecting people with no real experience to sit in front of a camera and recite their stories on video to be shown at a corporate meeting is completely unrealistic.

    My client is what some would call a very ambitious worker who simply wants to know how to move a project forward in a way that gives the impression she is right on top of it. She wants to appear cutting edge.  The one who comes through. The term for this is impression management.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a great impression. Most of us try to put our best foot forward so people will like us or feel they can count on us. Impression management is very important for leaders who want others to follow. But there must be a balance between authenticity and impression.

    In this case, the client could inadvertently be setting me up to fail, which will backfire on her. Instead of nailing it and impressing her boss, if we don’t deliver exactly what she wants, she will look bad. She will blame poor outcomes on us, even though she failed to heed our advice or speak up on our behalf.

    Impression management is defined as: “a process whereby someone tries to influence the observations and opinions of others about something”. For example, a manager might attempt to control information provided by a consultant, to give their boss the most favorable impression about what they can deliver.

    Baylor University Professor John Carlson has studied this behavior in the workplace and calls it “deceptive impression”. In his research, he labels people like my client “sycophant” which typically means brown noser. Carlson calls sycophancy the most highly used form of impression deception. He says these people do not provide genuine opinions or honest feedback to their superiors, for example, enthusiastically endorsing their superior’s idea even when they don’t like it.

    Interestingly, he concludes that sycophancy, has no significant effects on the relationship between the supervisor and supervisor’s evaluation of the subordinate’s performance.

    That leads me to believe the real losers are program participants and other employees, who could be reaping far more benefits if their superiors communicated clearly.

    In a similar event earlier this year, our team was hired to provide presentation training for a senior group of leaders. The client wanted us to teach her team how to become better presenters and provide “techniques to communicate messages”. Yet, she was unavailable for planning calls, didn’t respond to e-mails and despite repeated calls, failed to provide materials to help us prepare.

    After the program she said, “this was a terrific program and we all benefited greatly”, but observed the agenda “didn’t allow enough time for new comprehensive message development to be incorporated into the training”.

    On Sunday night, the evening before the program, she sent our lead trainer a multi-page wordy document of talking points and potential messages. No direction, no context. It was lengthy, written in corporate speak and difficult to understand. Then, without informing us, she sent the same document to her team. She instructed them to read it, use it to develop and write their own messages and bring it with them the next morning.

    These are people who have no experience with message development. They came to the program confused, stating they didn’t understand what they were supposed to do.

    What the client wanted and what she communicated to us were very different. Had she explained she was after comprehensive message development and subsequent presentation of those messages, we would have advised and structured differently.

    Like storytelling, message development takes time and is critical to an organization’s branding and marketing. Trying to do everything in one day is not realistic.

    Marge Piercy wrote a poem called To be of use. In it, she talks of people who strain in the mud and muck to move things forward. She writes “The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.”

    Chances are, both clients want to do well. Like many, they are probably inundated, overwhelmed and buried in more work than they can handle. Hiring you is something they were told to do. Now that they’ve checked that box, they just want you to show up and deliver so they can focus on other things.

    The key to any successful project is clear concise communication. If outcomes fall short, sometimes it’s not a reflection on the work your team is doing, which is not to say that all of us should always be open to suggestions that help us improve.

    In case you’re wondering, the storytelling program was a huge success. Given the limited amount of time to turn inexperienced communicators into great storytellers, they did exceptionally well. The client said she was happy and her boss was pleased. However, she added, this should have been spread out over several days as they really needed more time.

    As for the other client, who was also trying to do so much in so little time, we set up a call and she took our advice. She wants us to allocate more time to facilitate message development with multiple teams before trying to help them deliver.

    Go figure. Sometimes, things just work out as they should.

     
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