Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Rapport’

Why Soft Skills Are Not Soft

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I must be honest, I hate the expression “soft skills”. I know that it’s used to differentiate from hard skills, such as the 20130628-1652591technical ability to do a particular job.

So what exactly are soft skills?

Do they include the skill to answer the phone in a warm and friendly manner?

Or perhaps deal with a difficult customer, empathise, and help them to get what they want.

Maybe even sell the customer a product or service.

Perhaps for managers, they include the ability to listen to their employees, and to empathise with their situation.

And to give feedback that reinforces good behaviour, or changes not so good behaviour

Don’t be a softy

Well, in my book, there is nothing soft about these skills.

These are the skills that will decide if a customer buys from you, or one of your competitors.

These are the skills that will ensure the customer comes back to your business, and perhaps recommends your product or service to other people.

These are the skills that may ensure your customer pays your higher price, and pays you on time.

Hard skills can get the job done. Soft skills make the difference between a job that gets done, and a job that gets done exceedingly well.

So-called soft skills are all about motivated and engaged employees, more customers, more sales, and more profits.

Soft skills get the sales and make the profits.

Maybe not so soft – eh!

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How to Live Longer

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I have found the answer to eternal life. Well maybe not eternal, but you could certainly live longer.Dog Tired of Phone Calls

But first let me ask you; don’t you just hate it when people say ‘What’s wrong with you today, you don’t look very happy?’

Maybe you don’t feel like smiling on that particular day, for no particular reason. Or maybe you feel like punching them in the nose.

However, a report in American Psychologist states that:

Smiling and being agreeable influences the length of people’s lives in a positive way – Wow!

On the other hand, being grumpy increases the likelihood of a violent death, heart disease, cancer etc – oh dear!

And punching someone on the nose may result in a violent death!

If DC says it; it must be true

Dale Carnegie in his book – How to Win Friends and Influence People, says: ‘People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, they also raise happier children.’

Are your teeth okay?

Another survey found that 75% of respondents thought that an unattractive smile would be bad for their career. While a whopping 92% said an attractive smile was a necessary social asset.

Watch out for the scary people

These sorts of reports have been around for years, but many of the people that I come into contact with don’t seem to have received the message.

I’ve attended business networking meetings where many non smiley people look downright scary. And they wonder why they don’t gain any benefit from their networking!

Many of the people at my local health club look downright unhappy. You’d think they were there as some form of penance rather than as part of their fun and leisure time.

Are you sure your teeth are okay?

Of course many people don’t smile because they’re nervous; they lack confidence or have low self-esteem. Some people on the other hand actually believe they’re smiling when the face they present to the world could actually turn milk sour.

Have a look at your face from your side

I’m not suggesting that we all go around with big smiles on our face grinning inanely at people we hardly know. If you did that, then the men in white coats would soon be dragging you off to a place of detention. However, I am suggesting that we think about the face we present to other people.

By sporting a warm smile at the appropriate time we can only smooth the path for the people we’re dealing with. We also boost our own confidence and it allows us to relax and make the most of a situation.

Here come the technical bit

Smiling stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, which has an ongoing positive effect. It’s a two way neurological process; when you smile you literally become happier, and when you’re happier, you smile more. If someone gives you an unsolicited smile, you smile back and in this way we directly affect each other’s moods.

Switching on a smile will only bring benefits – you’ll be happier and everyone else will be happier – so keep smiling!

And in the words of W.C. Fields:

‘Start each day with a smile and get it over with’.

(That was just to make you smile!)

And let me make you smile more often – put your email address in that box on the top right. Don’t worry, I won’t give it to anyone else.

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3 Steps to Stop Sickies

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Are you frustrated by workplace absence?sneezing

If you’re a business owner or a manager then absence can be a real pain! It’s inconvenient, it’s damaging to customer service, you lose sales and it costs your business money. And as we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees take a “sickie” because their morale is low and they just don’t like or can’t do their work.

Make people happy

The challenge for managers and team leaders is to make people happier at work. And if people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose. Some bosses think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions is the answer.

It isn’t and it’s also something that can be very hard to achieve.

Get on their wavelength

People who employ or supervise others need to become more tuned to their employees’ emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is also much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however there is no quick fix. Some years ago I inherited a tele-sales operation with low staff morale and poor sales results. It took nearly six months to fix. The long-term benefits were of course worth it in terms of fewer days lost due to sickness and an increase in sales.

To reduce the number of sickies there are 3 steps you need to consider:

1. Pick the right person for the job.

You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people. Take more time over it; pay more attention to the applicant’s human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better.

Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have.

Make sure they know what they’re getting into and be sure the job suits them.

2. You need to believe in your people.

If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and also by your body language.

If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they’re unable to make a decision without checking with you; that they’ll turn up late and go home early, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.

If on the other hand you believe that they’ll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions, and they’ll give you a fair day’s work, then it’s more likely this is what you’ll get.

As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they’re more likely to behave in a positive manner.

3. Give feedback and coach.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to motivate your team members.

This is where so many managers and team leaders fall down in dealing with their people; they’re hopeless at giving feedback.

Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance be it good or bad.

Most employees want to know how they’re performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better.

If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they’re doing well and also – what needs improvement.

When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don’t like, tell them about it.

Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something you’re not happy about, then they’ll assume its okay. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.

Do it in private; why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.

So there you have it; these steps will take time and thought however they’ll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work.

If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they are less likely to find a reason to ‘take a sickie’.

Excerpt from How to be a Motivational Manager51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_311

 

7 Reasons Why Some People Are Difficult

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When I’m running a seminar on How to Manage Difficult People, I often say to the group: ‘Please put up your hand if angry adultyou’re a difficult person who makes problems for other people.’

Guess what – not one person raises their hand? Now you’re probably thinking that nobody is going to admit to this, particularly in public. But I believe that no one, in any way, regards themselves as a difficult person.

It’s the other guy

I’ve asked this question many times, and out of the hundreds of people who’ve attended this seminar, no one puts their hand up. They will, however, go on to tell me about all the difficult customers they have to deal with, their manipulative boss, their problem staff, and the neighbours who won’t keep their children under control.

These figures don’t add up; we have hundreds of people who don’t believe they are difficult, telling me about hundreds of people who are.

It’s hard to find anyone who admits to being difficult. But it’s obvious that we’ve all, probably, been difficult to another person at sometime in our life.

However, research tells us that there are only two percent of the population who are genuinely difficult. So, what causes this difficulty?

  1. Stress. Some people get stressed for all sorts of reasons. Often it’s just their inability to deal with aspects of their job and their personal life. They tend to blame other people and circumstances, but most often they have the answers within themselves.
  2. Personal problems. It’s fair to say that people sometimes have problems that are out with their control. A death in the family, breakdown of a marriage or a relationship, problems with children, or they may feel unwell and have health issues.
  3. Not competent to do the job. It’s often the case, in the workplace, that people find difficulty in doing their job and in finding help. Although they may not admit to this, they might feel inadequate and express their frustration by complaining, being negative and difficult.
  4. Don’t know they’re being difficult. Some people are not conscious of how they’re perceived by others. They believe that their behaviour is quite normal, and are unable to understand why some people see it otherwise.
  5. They see the world differently. We all see the world differently from each other. But some people’s programming causes them to become annoyed when others don’t see it as they see it.
  6. Low self esteem. Some people’s lack of self-confidence and belief in themselves, often causes them to be angry at the world. They believe that other people are out to do them down and that everything is against them.
  7. Lack of Acknowledgement. It could be that they have a massive need for acknowledgement either physical or psychological. A human’s need for acknowledgement is so strong that they’ll sometimes behave badly to get that acknowledgement.

I’m sure you’re aware of children who behave badly in school just to get attention – well, adults do it too. That person in your team, who gives you all sorts of problems which are often difficult to understand, may just be seeking acknowledgement. Withdrawing or failing to provide acknowledgement will cause people to become difficult.

So there you have it; it’s worth bearing this in mind, when you next have to manage a difficult person.

This is an excerpt from my book How to Manage Difficult People.7018_155572617408_699287408_2759755_4580853_n

Available worldwide from Amazon and all good book retailers.

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Developing Emotionally Intelligent Hotel Staff – New Seminar

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Spend Time with Your Employees but Don’t Scare Them

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How do you feel if your manager sits down and watches or listens to you work? I know I’d feel a bit uncomfortable.51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_31

I’m always encouraging managers to spend time with individual employees. However I’m aware that some people may feel uncomfortable when you do that, particularly if they’re not used to it.

They might not be used to it with you, or perhaps a previous manager didn’t do it either. It’s often the case that people are uncomfortable because they associate their manager sitting down with them as a prelude to a reprimand.

As Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson say in their book ‘The One Minute Manager’ – Catch people doing something right.Too many managers still think that their job is to – catch people doing something wrong.

They believe that their job is to check up on what their people are doing and “sort things” as required. It’s micro managing.

And employees believe that if a manager comes close to you then they’re checking up. If you’ve got that culture amongst your team members, then you’ve got to change it.

Think of it this way – are you the kind of manager who spends time with your team to find out what they’re doing or to find out how they’re doing. Make sure it’s the latter.

Some of your people may even be a bit scared of you particularly when they first join the team. You may think that you’re much too nice a person; how could anybody be scared of little old you; however I used to think that also.

One day I was discussing a new salesman with John, one of the more experienced guys. ‘Young Patrick’s scared of you,’ he said. ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ was my reply. ‘What have I ever done to make him scared of me; I’m always really nice to him.’  ‘Well he is scared of you and just wants to please you,’ said John.

This was something that really made me think because there was no way I wanted any of my team to be scared of me. Once I was aware of it I took more care in my dealing with Patrick and our working relationship worked out okay.

So always be aware of the impact you’re having on your people; you may think that you’re the nicest most reasonable person in the world, but how do they see it? Sadly, there are some managers who quite like the fact that their people are a bit scared of them and they see it as a positive situation. These are also the managers who spend a lot of time recruiting new people.

I can remember times when I’ve taken over a new team. I’ve had many strange looks and defensive body language when I’ve stopped to have a chat with some of the team.

Some field sales people would get extremely uncomfortable when I told them I’d be spending some time with them visiting customers. However, I realised that I was getting it right when at later date a salesman would ask ‘When are you coming out with me again, Alan, to see some customers?’

There’s always going to be members of your team who are really keen to spend time with you and others who are less so. However, you must spend time with everyone – more with some and less with others.

If you do it right (and follow this blog if you want to know how) then your people will start to get used to it and start to see the benefits to themselves.

And you will see the benefits to your business.

Extract from How To Be a Motivational Manager

Don’t be Scared – Let Your Employees Get to Know You

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When I’m running a training course, particularly a two or a five day course, I’m often surprised by the participant’s Office lifeinterest in me. Sometimes I think it’s just polite conversation however, most of the time that doesn’t seem to be the case. They always want to know how old I am for some reason, and of course, I tell a lie!

Many of your employees will want to know about you at both a personal and business level. That doesn’t mean sharing your intimate thoughts, but it’s similar to the things you want to know about them.

Even although your team members don’t ask you about yourself, tell them. Reveal bits and pieces about yourself over a period of time. Good professional speakers know this. They let their audiences know various things about themselves that show their idiosyncrasies or little mistakes they’ve made.

What you’re really saying is, ‘I’m human, I’m like you, I experience the same situations.’

A lady approached me after one of my Presentation Skills seminars. She said, ‘I was really interested when you said you were nervous before giving a speech; that made me feel so much better knowing you’re just like me.’

Your team members want to know that you’re just like them. This is not detrimental to your role as a manager or team leader, in fact, it enhances it.

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Help People To Like Themselves

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Jane, who was recently married, explained to a friend why she had married Bill instead of Bob.

‘Bob is everything; handsome, well educated, extremely intelligent, clever and has a successful career. I felt that when I was with Bob I was with the the most wonderful person in the world.

When I’m with Bill, I feel that I’m the most important person in the world!’

Help people to like themselves and they will love you!

People Buy From People – 6 tips for success

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1 Don’t rely on logic20130413-092631.jpg

Many people who sell a technical product or service often find this hard to understand. They seem to believe that all the customer is interested in are the facts and figures. Perhaps they are, but what happens if they don’t particularly like the salesperson?

2 People sell to people

Before accepting what you say, people need to buy you first. If you find this hard to accept, think about people who have tried to sell you something. Even a politician or a religious leader on television. If you don’t particularly like the person then you’ll find it so much harder to accept what they’re saying.

3 People like people who are just like themselves

It’s important to build rapport, to establish mutual areas of interest, to show you understand and care about the other person’s needs.

4 People are different

Everyone on earth is different; we are all as different as our fingerprints. You may have similar interests, but aspects of your product or service may not be as important to your customer or client as you believe.

5 Don’t stereotype

Always keep an open mind when dealing with the other person. They may not think or behave as you’d expect.

6 Adapt your behaviour to different people

Learn to mirror the other person’s words, tone of voice and body language. This doesn’t mean mimicking the other person; it’s about communicating with them in their style and language. For example – if your customer spoke quietly and slowly; then it would build rapport if you spoke quietly and slowly. Subconsciously, the customer is getting the message that – you are just like them.

 

Why Aren’t Your Employees Motivated and Engaged?

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By Alan Fairweather with thanks to Laura Entismy boss and me

Only 29% of employees are fully engaged in their work!

This startling statistic comes from a recent study by Dale Carnegie and MSW Research. They polled a representative sample of 1500 employees across a wide range of industries. And as someone who has spent the last twenty years working with organisations across a range of industries, that doesn’t surprise me.

Totally disengaged employees came in at 26% in this study, and the majority of employees came somewhere in-between. These are the people who are putting in the minimum amount of effort to achieve results. In other words; nearly 50% of employees are just not into their jobs.

And the result of that is, low productivity, poor customer service, lost customers, poor sales, lots of days lost due to “sickness”, high staff turnover and reduced profits.

Organisations are losing billions due to high staff turnover alone. In the US, the Bureau of National Affairs estimates that this costs businesses $11 billion annually.

Okay, so that’s the bad news; now for some good stuff.

Employee engagement is mostly affected by the employee’s relationship with their manager or supervisor.

And even more good news; this can be recharged and made even better.

Motivational Managers create the environment where employees self-motivate. This in turn generates a high level of engagement.

You need managers who communicate well, (and that means listening more than speaking). Managers who talk with every employee individually, on a regular basis, about what they do well, and what they could do better.

Managers who trust their employees, keep them ‘in on things’, encourage growth and appreciate them.

Simple facts

Not doing this will cost your business lots of money.

Doing it costs you nothing and earns you money.

Check out the book, How to be a Motivational Manager51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_3

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