Tag Archives: #ahha

Red Light Green Light

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

It is that time of the year and NYC traffic congestion is everywhere; the traffic guards working extra hard to move the traffic in an orderly fashion. The following story represents a great glimpse into human behavior: WTF.

Imagine this scene: The traffic guard was directing cars with every ounce of her voice and gesturing hands. A traffic light was also available to guide the activity. So when the traffic light changed color and the guard kept moving cars forward in the direction of the red traffic light, confusion appeared and impatience erupted. The horns were pounded and the car windows opened as drivers yelled at the traffic guard who was not facilitating the traffic flow in keeping with the traffic light colors. For what seemed like forever, I watched the traffic guard in a pseudo-aerobic exercise dance as she persevered in maintaining the traffic flow as she saw fit.traffic-jam

And then, it became obvious! Twelve black Escalade vans appeared, driving in the same direction that she was indeed facilitating movement. There was logic to her actions and the override of the traffic light messaging. For a nanosecond, the car horns and driver obscenities subsided. WTF?

Was there a small smirk on the face of the traffic guard as the caravan came to a close and she turned her attention to traffic flow in the opposite direction?

How often do we assume that someone is doing something wrong or stupid because it breaks from what we expect to experience?

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How do I Know What I do Not Know?

This question can have a pivotal impact across any aspect of our lives. If only, I had known that? Why didn’t someone tell me? Can I backdate it?

“Knowing everything” is impossible however creating an infrastructure of information/data which heightens your awareness of issues that are applicable to your situation can be improved. Here are six ways to increase your chances of asking the “right questions” to ensure that you are getting more of the “right information” coming your way:

question marks

1. Ask incident related questions vs general questions.
Instead of asking: How is it going today? Or how is business, start asking more specific incident-related questions:
• Tell me about the last new piece of business you closed
• Tell me about the last employee you hired
• Did John give you an update on the five client requests made during the March 10 meeting

2. Ask the same question more than once to different people.
Did you ever call a utility company or insurance company and receive completely different answers to the same question — from two different people within the same 60 minute period of time. It happens every day and it goes beyond the quality of the service training. It reflects the experience and the empowerment levels of the person handling your request. Hang up the phone and call back if the answer is important enough to you!

3. Let me tell you what I am going to tell you, and then tell you what I told you that I would tell you.
Creating awareness and interest is a never-ending marketing challenge, Studies show that making an impression on someone can take anywhere from 7 to 20 exposure points across multiple channels of influence.
In addition to telling your story multiple times and in multiple ways, remember to stop and ask questions that are as specific as possible. In small discussion settings, pull from your knowledge of the participants history to open up the dialogue. Whenever possible, the goal is to understand how someone else handled a situation. Are there insights that would help you ask different questions?

4. Can I prevent this from happening again?
We all have situations that annoy the heck out of us, especially since they keep happening again and again. We come up with a plan to remedy the situation so that eventually we are less annoyed and more adept at handling the situation. However, have we truly resolved the core reason behind the incomplete transaction, the never-ending disruptions, or the repetitive errors that need to be corrected?
The application of: How do we know what we do not know in this situation is to make sure to let others know how a problem was solved. This supports continuous improvement in work flow and case management so that the root cause of the situation can be adjusted!

5. Ask someone who really cares.
Some people give their heart and soul to specific causes. Find those who have walked in your shoes. Others devote their lives to providing the support services to the situation you are seeking answers. Ask someone who truly cares, as their answer will point to both the emotional and functional issues that are pivotal to your success.

6. Having the courage to take a leap of faith.
The amount of information in our domain is doubling within brief periods of time. Analysis-Paralysis is no longer possible. A smart pilot program can mitigate the risk. Small changes that can be seen in a conservative culture as acceptable iterations to the process……..move the process forward.
Former NY Mayor Ed Koch created an environment of wanting feedback by including his famous “How am I Doing” question with every appearance. How do you know what you do not know? Start by taking an inquisitive nature to life, always looking for new ways to make the questions you ask more insight.

In keeping with this philosophy, I ask you to share a question with me that you now ask on a regular basis that has made a difference in your life.

 

 

Yikes! How Do We Tame the Elephant in the Room?

You, too, can tame the elephant in the room

You know that feeling you get in your gut when a difficult subject needs to be addressed and you suddenly become the world’s master of procrastination. Is there an elephant in the room? What do you do if:

  • The customer service center was unable to handle the volume of inbound leads generated by your Facebook campaign
  • You hit “reply all” on a conversation which included sensitive subject matter intended only for “reply to sender”
  • An entire electronic file appears to be missing and the intern is still working on updating the documents
  • Cash is missing or you realize that someone chipped the heirloom figurine and neglected to tell you
  • Your toddler, who is in the middle of toilet training, decides to show off their new skills in the toilet remodeling department of Home Depot (Just saw this LOL scene on TV)

No matter how much training you have in mediation or facilitation, these sorts of situations are rarely viewed as light-conversation. Unaddressed, these issues foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied and sometimes fearful. All of these emotions waste valuable time and hamper productivity.stresses business

Wikipedia describes the elephant in the room phrase as “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed….. an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss”…..

Recognizing the elephant is an important first step, however the real finesse comes in acknowledging  the elephant in a manner that allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion and then to move past it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can tame the proverbial elephant in the room”

  1. Open up the discussion by expressing the issue and inviting input from others. To do this effectively necessitates that you share your views with little or no emotion. Why? Because emotions are contagious and at this point, you are looking to ask others to share.
  2. Asking others to share their viewpoint displays consideration for their perspective. Stop and listen – really listen to what they say. Acknowledge their input and demonstrate a sincere interest in their comments. Creating an environment where someone feels like they can share allows you to discuss a potentially “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continued dialogue. As the dialogue continues, you collect more information that can be used for a reality check.
  3. Do a reality-check: Is this really an elephant or can we resolve this with less drama? Your attitude on this may set the tone for others and alleviate stress or awkwardness. Honesty expressed in a calm and thoughtful manner can help to disarm the elephant.
  4. Be honest, direct and convey confidence. A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored, despite everyone being aware of it. By naming what others may be avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle—obstacles are far less overwhelming to the psyche to handle and move off of.
  5. Move forward: Thank everyone for their inputs. Summarize the next steps. Ask others to concur with your summary. Where possible, ask others to take on a responsibility that increases the likelihood of maintaining harmony

Deep breath. You can tame the elephant in the room and move forward.

A version of this posting was made on the MENG blog in Nov 2013.

Water Bottles on Demand

water bottles

Give a man a fish and he eats a meal; Give a man a fishing rod and he feeds himself forever. Give a man a bottle of water and he can drink throughout the day. Maybe…..however it is worth taking note of the modern version of a hotel water fountain. It certainly makes it easier for us to stay hydrated in an environmentally-friendly format throughout the day.

Here’s an interesting water bottle factoid: “According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles used in the US become garbage that ends up in landfills throughout the country. Considering that approximately 60 million plastic water bottles are used every day in the US, we can assume that nearly 18,834,000,000 end up in the landfill each year. Each bottle can take up to 700 years to decompose.” (Source)

Are you using a singular water bottle throughout the day — one that you carry with you and refill as required?

Make like a honey-bee!

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

honeybee 1Waiting on a store check-out line, I listened to the telephone conversation of the person standing behind me. The dialogue was around customer service. “ I want my customers to receive the best possible customer service from my staff. At the same time”, he continued, “I will not allow my own staff to be bullied or intimidated.”

It seems that a staff member was upset because the customer’s approach was something like: “This is what you will do to correct the situation now” as opposed to “I would like to see you do the following to make good on the situation. What would be the next steps for this to take place?”

In your own dealings: Do you ask them OR tell them what you want?  As my father-in-law used to say: You get more with honey than vinegar! Now, go make like a honey bee.

 

 

A Cargo Perspective

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

People have different perspectives on how to keep track of  their precious cargo. Imagine the following two scenarios which took place on a major midtown Manhattan avenue.

  • First, I see a young fashionably-dressed woman talking on her cell phone while a toddler waddles behind her. She is walking somewhat sideways so as to keep an eye on the child, however there is a distance between the two of them that measures somewhere between one-third and one-half city block.ducks walking
  • A few minutes later, I see a young man walking down the street. He looks like a sweaty tightrope walker. He is balancing some 6 (very large) trays of eggs in his arms.

Doesn’t it seem that the transportation method should have been switched up in these scenarios?

In the described situation, would you have said something to the young woman? Would you have offered to help the young man?

OR, would you have power-walked past both of them?

He can mix a great drink OR position you correctly on the X-ray machine

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

colorful puzzleThe age-old question of “What do I want to be when I grow up” is never easy to define….and I am always fascinated by the stories of those who truly changed the direction of their work, using skills in a completely different application.

I was recently making small talk with an X-ray technician. He told me about decades spent as a bartender and restaurant manager. Earlier days included time in the military.

It was humorous ….. and then the career links became oh so obvious: Helping others. Customer Service. Measuring items that come together within a followed formula. People-facing. Patience. Ability to handle emotionally charged environments.

When was the last time you used one of your skills in a completely unrelated situation?

puzzle coming togehter