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To Text or To Talk? That is the Question.

October 17th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was at the World Business Forum in NYC and listened to many fine speakers, including Sherry Turkle, the Founding Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.  Her latest book, Alone Together, explores the impact of relentless communication that is facilitated primarily by technology.  She listed several points in her argument that all of us, in the workplace or at home, must balance our communications to include lots more conversation.  One of the first points she made was this:  “We text before we talk.”  And, it got me thinking . . . when is it appropriate to text in the workplace and when it is better to talk?

Here’s my simple take on the question:  talk when the stakes are high.  Stakes are usually high when there is a conflict, if there has been a misunderstanding, when there needs to be a shared and collective understanding about goals, mission or vision . . . to name just a few.  It’s also important to talk if you think there’s a possibility that a text will cause a conflict, misunderstanding or might confuse priorities.  I don’t really need to define high stakes here.  You know when they exist.  When your gut feels all butterflied or if you’re afraid to talk, that’s probably EXACTLY what you need to do.  Sometimes, the stakes are high and yet there are no butterflies.  Like when you’re trying to build a relationship or win someone’s trust.  Those are great reasons to talk.  In. Person.

I’m challenging myself to text (or email) less and talk more.  I think it will result in just what I’m going for when I reach out to someone: a genuine connection that yields positive outcomes and feels great.  And, I’m going to talk to my clients about it and see what their common practices and perspectives are.  I’ll share what they have to say.  In the meantime, happy chatting!

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Posted In: Communication

You Have The Right To Be Here

October 8th, 2012

Last week, I was in NYC at the World Business Forum.  Barbara Corcoran was one of the speakers, and she was awesome.  She has a great, American, rags-to-riches story that is inspiring for anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit.  After I heard her speak, I immediately downloaded her book, Shark Tales, to my iPad.  Among her many nuggets of wisdom, the one that stuck with me was when she was in the elevator on the way up to talk to the one and only Donald Trump.  She found herself nervous . . . . although this was before he sued her and she counter-sued, and won.  (Now, she thinks he’s a jerk.)  But, when she first met him, she was shaking in her boots.  And, before she got off the elevator to walk into his office she remembered something her mom had often told her and her siblings:  “You have the right to be here.”  So, she closed her eyes and repeated to herself three times: “I have the right to be here.”  Natch, she waltzed into The Donald’s office and made her pitch.  At that time, the outcome wasn’t as important as the fact that she fully believed that she had a right to be in Donald Trump’s office.  And, indeed, she did.

How many times have you been in a meeting, with a client, or in any circumstance where you’ve questioned your abilities and/or competencies?  I know there have been plenty for me.  I’ve suffered from the well-documented psychological phenomenon called “imposter syndrome” where I’ve been unable to internalize and accept my own accomplishments.  Well, for heaven’s sake . . . I’m glad I’ve gotten over that.  I am accomplished . . . I’m not an imposter, and neither are you!  You have the right to be here, whether it’s to teach something or to learn something, whether its to talk or to listen, whether to give or take.  I know that you prepare for a meeting, presentation, project or other circumstance with all the necessary attention to detail and commitment to excellence.  But, does your preparation include the reminder that you have the right to be there?  Up until last week, mine didn’t.  Going forward, I am committed to making sure my prep time includes a healthy dose of ”I have a right to be here.”  It’s sure to significantly reduce (if not eliminate) any anxiety I might have.

I have the right to be here.  I have the right to be here.  I have the right to be here.

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My 3 Tips for Customer Service Success

December 29th, 2011

I’ve recently signed on with a new client who is keeping me hopping.  She’s a long term client, but has just joined a new company.  She has a lot to do, and is counting on me to help her deliver.  Her needs got me thinking about my needs.  And, right now, my needs are secondary.  That’s what I’m thinking.  My needs don’t matter as much as hers, and that’s the essence of excellent customer service . . . at least in “my book”.  And, I have three rules of the road for serving this customer, and all the other ones I am blessed to have:

  1. Meet your customer in her “space”.  I don’t mean “put yourself in her shoes.”  That’s oversimplifying things and means you have to do some imagination.  I mean, pay attention to what’s getting her attention, causing her stress, or ramping up her enthusiasm.  Slow down or speed up to match her pace of communication, brainstorming, and problem solving.  There’s no imagining involved here . . . just plugging in to what’s really going on.
  2. Be. Here. Now.  I don’t mean that you have to physically be where she is.  (My client is in Dallas, I’m in Minneapolis . . . we don’t share the same state, let alone the same office.)  But, when we’re talking on the phone, I don’t multi-task.  When we are face to face, she gets my full attention.  It makes service (and life) so much easier when I focus on what’s in front of me instead of thinking about what I could be, should be, or would be doing if my client wasn’t around.
  3. Work hard and be nice.  I have a sign in my office that says this because I can’t be reminded enough how simple it really is.  No matter what . . . I work hard for my customers.  And, no matter how grouchy I am feeling, I am nice.  (The same goes for when my clients are grouchy.)  Nice makes a difference.  Actually, nice makes the world go around.

Those are them . . . my three tips for customer service.  Nothing magical or complicated.  The key for me is to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about my customer.

What are your tips for excellent customer service?  I’d love to hear them.


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