CONTRIBUTOR | Entrepreneur
We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.
Verbal slip-ups often occur because we say things without knowledge of the subtle implications they carry. Understanding these implications requires social awareness—the ability to pick up on the emotions and experiences of other people.
TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than a million people and discovered that social awareness is a skill in which many of us are lacking.
We lack social awareness because we’re so focused on what we’re going to say next—and how what other people are saying affects us—that we completely lose sight of other people.
This is a problem because people are complicated. You can’t hope to understand someone until you focus all of your attention in his or her direction.
The beauty of social awareness is that a few simple adjustments to what you say can vastly improve your relationships with other people.
To that end, there are some phrases that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in casual conversation. The following phrases are nine of the worst offenders. You should avoid them at all costs.
1. ‘You look tired.’
Tired people are incredibly unappealing—they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some.
Instead say: “Is everything okay?” Most people ask if someone is tired because they’re intending to be helpful (they want to know if the other person is okay). Instead of assuming someone’s disposition, just ask. This way, he can open up and share. More importantly, he will see you as concerned instead of rude.
2. ‘Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!’
Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.
Instead say: “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.
3. ‘You were too good for her anyway.’
When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place.
Instead say: “Her loss!” This provides the same enthusiastic support and optimism without any implied criticism.
4. ‘You always…’ or ‘You never…’
No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss.
Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”
5. ‘You look great for your age.’
Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit.
Instead say: “You look great.” This one is another easy fix. Genuine compliments don’t need qualifiers.
6. ‘As I said before…’
We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Getting insulted over having to repeat yourself suggests that either you’re insecure or you think you’re better than everyone else (or both!). Few people who use this phrase actually feel this way.
Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.
7. ‘Good luck.’
This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed.
Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.” This is better than wishing her luck because suggesting that she has the skills needed to succeed provides a huge boost of confidence. You’ll stand out from everyone else who simply wishes her luck.
8. ‘It’s up to you.’ or ‘Whatever you want.’
While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place).
Instead say: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are…” When you offer an opinion (even without choosing a side), it shows that you care about the person asking.
9. ‘Well at least I’ve never ___.’
This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now).
Instead say: “I’m sorry.” Owning up to your mistake is the best way to bring the discussion to a more rational, calm place so that you can work things out. Admitting guilt is an amazing way to prevent escalation.
Bringing it all together
In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.
A version of this article first appeared at TalentSmart.com.
TRAVIS BRADBERRY | Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart
Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Article by Meaghan S. Hughes
Off-duty conduct of employees has been a hot topic in the news recently.
In the age of round-the-clock social media, inappropriate employee conduct can have far-reaching effects on an employer’s brand and reputation. Employers often face significant public pressure to terminate an employee based on off-duty conduct, but concerns arise when terminations are unwarranted and may result in grievances (in unionized environments) or wrongful termination lawsuits (in non-unionized environments).
The recent case of Union of Public Employees, Local 4400 v. Toronto District School Board, 2015 CarswellOnt 6561 provides an example of off-duty conduct which resulted in dismissal.
In September 2012, the greivor attended a Toronto District School Board (TBSB) school – off duty – to pick up her 13 year-old daughter. When she arrived, the grievor thought that a 14 year-old male student had been bullying her daughter. An altercation ensued, which was recorded by student bystanders and was subsequently uploaded to You Tube. The video shows the grievor insisting the male student apologize to her daughter, yelling inappropriate comments and obscenities at him, and telling him she works for the TDSB and can find out anything she wants to find out about him.
The employer dismissed the grievor on the basis that she had breached its employment policies, one of which specifically provided that it is unacceptable for an employee to insult, degrade or direct demeaning comments to a child. The union grieved the dismissal, arguing that the altercation occurred when the grievor was off duty and that the employer has no jurisdiction or authority over what employees do in their private lives.
The onus was on the employer to demonstrate that discipline for off-duty conduct was warranted. On the facts of the case, the arbitrator accepted the employer’s position that the grievor’s conduct clearly harmed the TDSB’s reputation and as such discipline was appropriate (Millhaven Fibres Ltd. Millhaven Works, and Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Int’l Union, Local9-670 (1967)). As to whether dismissal was the appropriate form of discipline, the arbitrator considered the fact that the grievor had identified herself as a TDSB employee and directed vulgar and profane language at a TDSB student on TDSB property. Clearly, the grievor’s conduct was substantially connected to her employment and impacted the TDSB’s reputation for those who saw or heard about the incident.
Lessons for Employers:
The test for determining whether termination is justified varies slightly depending on whether or not the workplace is unionized; however, the overall factors to be considered are similar. Generally, employers must show a link between the off-duty conduct and the workplace. For example, that the off-duty conduct has significantly affected employer’s ability to manage the operation or workforce, or that it has harmed the general reputation of the business.
In an effort to prevent such situations, expectations for off-duty conduct should be clearly set out in employment policies, along with consequences for conduct that is potentially damaging to the employer’s brand and reputation. Employers should incorporate such policies into employment agreements, or have the employee sign off on the policies or codes of conduct. Policies should also address and describe the limitations for use of social media for both personal and professional accounts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Below you can find some tips for how to spend your weekend:
Jake Newfield | HubSpot
Whether you want to master a new skill, start a company, get a new job, or become a leader – here are the 9 things to make sure you include in your daily agenda.
Meditation is one of the easiest, most natural ways to decrease stress and increase energy. It’s no surprise that many of the world’s most successful billionaires practice meditation everyday.
It is through meditation that many innovators have been able to come up with new ideas that shape the world.
Many people suffer from constant stress and information overload which result in an inability to succinctly process new information in an effective manner. Among other benefits, meditation can help you channel your thoughts.
2. Find Your Core Talent
Yes, there are successful people who have numerous talents and abilities. However, they didn’t start that way.
When you are in the early stages of your development and success, it’s important not to let distractions interfere with your core talents you are developing.
When you find something you’re good at, hone in on it and develop that skill to its full potential.
3. Be Gracious
Appreciate what you have. If you let yourself get distracted by what you don’t have, it will only slow you down from getting it.
4. Be Aware
Keep a journal of your daily thoughts. Being cognizant of your attitude and mindset will help you be more optimistic and enable you to achieve your goals.
5. Help Others
Inspiring others helps you to establish yourself as a leader, and helps you grow a network of supporters. If you can help other people accomplish their goals, they will help you accomplish yours.
Being successful is more than just a mental game.
Most successful people incorporate exercise into their daily routine because it promotes restful sleep, confidence, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
7. Create routines and stick to them
Doing great things consistently over time is what creates success.
Find routines that work for you and help you be productive and focused. Once you find things that work, stick to them.
8. Make good use of your time
Successful people get things done as efficiently as possible. It’s important to make the most of every day, maximizing your output yet doing so in a way that doesn’t burn you out.
Set a schedule everyday with everything you want to accomplish, and have time slots next to each goal so that you can check off each task as you move on to the next one.
9 . Believe in Yourself
Above all else, you need to believe in yourself. Believing you can accomplish your goals is the single most important element of achieving your goals. Your ability to persevere and stay committed through any hardship is what can ultimately get you to where you want to be.
Canadian companies need to invest in analytical tools and expertise to generate the proactive and predictive insights for a more personalized experience for customers, who are quietly slipping away with little ability to win them back, according to a new report from Accenture Strategy.
Nearly half (49 percent) of Canadian consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service – most commonly from retailers, cable and satellite television service companies, phone companies and banks, according to Accenture’s eleventh annual Global Consumer Pulse Research. The study gauges the experiences and attitudes of 24,489 consumers around the world about marketing, sales and customer services, with 1,334 respondents from Canada.
Eighty percent of Canadian respondents who switched said they could have been retained before switching providers, in line with the survey’s global findings. Now that they’ve switched, there’s very little chance they will return, with 68 percent saying they will not return once they have left, compared to 58 percent globally, the survey shows. Further, only 17 percent of Canadian consumers posted negative comments online after a bad customer service experience, 11 percent less than the global average (28 percent).
“Canadians are known to be ‘silent switchers’, which means they will just leave with no opportunity for the provider to ‘make it right’, or to understand and minimize churn,” said Berkeley Warburton, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Fortunately, providers now have access to tools that proactively create a positive customer experience through seamless interactions across all channels, using predictive, prescriptive and cross-channel analytics that will figure out what Canadian customers want – before it’s too late.”
The importance of a human connection in customer services
Analytics is only part of the solution for providers trying to retain business, because Canadian customers said they still want to maintain a human interaction, with 85 percent preferring to deal with a live person, higher than the average of 73 percent globally. This additional cost can pay off for providers, with more than half (53 percent) of Canadian respondents willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving a face-to-face service compared to online, compared to 45 percent globally.
Canadian consumers place a higher-than-average value on physical or in-store experiences, with 71 percent agreeing that in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience, compared to 56 percent globally. Forty percent are willing to pay a higher price for goods and services if it ensures a better level of service, compared to 49 percent of global respondents.
“Canadian companies must not overplay their digital hand — they should look to balance digital with human interaction so they don’t lose their customer base,” said Ms. Warburton. “These personalized interactions are what the customer values and remembers, and they make a difference when it comes to building and maintaining a Canadian customer’s loyalty and trust.”
Improving customer experience
The Accenture Strategy report reveals that there is huge room for improvement in the delivery of today’s customer services. Most (80 percent) Canadian consumers say that it is frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them, compared to 73 percent of global respondents. Another 77 percent expect customer service to be easier and more convenient to obtain, versus 69 percent globally, and 65 percent expect it to be faster, versus 72 percent globally. Meanwhile, 60 percent report that if companies could provide customers with better live or in-person customer service, it would have impacted their decision to switch providers, higher that the global average of 52 percent.
How leaders of customer services succeed
Organizations that want to rebalance their digital and traditional customer service channels should look to:
- Put the human and physical elements back into customer services: Rethink your investment strategy. The focus should be on delivering satisfying, memorable customer experiences – not methods of interaction. Ensure your channel management approach delivers integrated experiences.
- Make it easy for customers to switch channels to get the experiences they want: Build customer service channels that enable consumers to fluidly move from digital to human interaction to get the outcomes they desire.
- Root out revenue toxicity: Define and address the most toxic customer experiences across all channels; experiences like data overage charges from telecommunication providers where customers receive no advanced warning. These experiences increase revenue in the short-term but greatly contribute to Canadians “silently switching”, impacting long-term profitability. By focusing on transparent and positive experiences companies can create more sustainable growth through customer loyalty.
- Guarantee personal data security: 92 percent of consumers say it is extremely important that companies protect the privacy of their personal information. By not selling or sharing customer data with other companies, and guaranteeing that safeguards are in place to protect it, consumers will be more willing to hand over personal information which can be leveraged to deliver better experiences.
About the research
Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research is an annual online research project that assess customer attitudes towards marketing, sales and customer service practices and customers’ behaviors in response to companies’ practices. The 2015 survey includes online responses from 24,489 consumers in 33 countries: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UAE, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore,Norway, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland, South Africa, Russia, Argentina, Turkey, Poland, Philippines, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic,India, Indonesia, France, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Australia, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. Respondents were asked to evaluate their experiences of up to four industries out of 11 industry sectors: retail banking and financial services, wireless services providers, consumer goods retailers, gas and electric utility providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, property and casualty insurance providers, fixed service providers (excluding cable and satellite), healthcare providers, hotels and lodging, life insurance, and cable and satellite service providers. The survey was fielded in August and September 2015.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us atwww.accenture.com.
Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrat or visit www.accenture.com/strategy.