As we move slowly back towards life as we used to know it, people keep talking about the ‘New Norm’. If you challenge them, they appear to have little or no idea as to what this New Normality will be.
Many believe we will rely much more on the internet to do business and there will be a significant increase in those working from home. Some of those whose businesses have operated primarily online, the digital marketeers, web designers and IT experts, are suggesting they need never go back to an office.
Since ‘lockdown’ we have all had to change our approach. We have had to engage with our customers in different ways. Primarily, but not exclusively this has been via the internet. I believe it is still accepted by most, that face to face and in the same room is the ideal! This allows more of our social instincts to play a part and to enable more of a solid business relationship to develop. It would be very sad if we did not go back to meeting, shaking hands, embracing (when appropriate!) and enjoying each other’s physical company.
What other positivity can we take from the present difficult situation:
- The air is cleaner!
- More people now know more about the internet and its possibilities for communication and promotion.
- In general, people are more aware and considerate of others wellbeing.
- Many have observed that the pace of life has slowed, allowing more reflection and consideration.
- The situation has encouraged more lateral or ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
- As a society we have reset our perspectives and priorities; we have acknowledged what is most important to us.
I could continue with the list, but I think the point is made. After lockdown, it would be a great shame to lose all that we have gained. Clearly, we need to take the best we can from all this and apply them to our New Norm. Ideally, we should maintain good perspective, priorities and wellbeing as we start to meet with others again. At the same time, we should continue to embrace more of the best of the technology.
We need to balance the best of the Old Norm with the best of the lockdown strategies we have developed. Every business has different needs and priorities and so they will have their own version of the New Norm. I urge you all to plan carefully how you address coming out of lockdown and what your New Norm will look like. If you need help with this, I have developed a new module called ‘Your New Norm’, which helps you define what you want to become as a business, you new approach to promotion and engagement that will continue to make you successful as we are ‘unlocked’.
If you want to know more, please call or email.
At some stage in the future, lockdown will end. For months we will have been meeting, talking, and socialising with the images of people on screens. When we finally get to meet with them again, how will we cope?
Can we remember the ‘social niceties’ as we used the call them, the social conventions that ensure mutual respect and deference?
I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the social decorum or etiquette that we were expected to follow when we were younger (which is probably before you were born, dear reader). Yes, in such prose as these when addressing the reader they were often referred to as ‘dear’ or even ‘gentle reader’!) The following relate to ‘greetings’ in the 1960s. Some of these conventions are still applied by the ‘old school’!
• If a lady entered a room all the gentlemen were expecteed to stand. If a large room or hall, or in a large gathering it was understood that only those whom she approached would stand until she was seated.
• All gentlemen would stand to shake hands but the ladies would remain seated to do the same. (I believe this is still expected and correct behavior.)
• Unless they are a relative or long standing friend or aquaintence, no kissing is allowed. If the lady leaned forward for a peck then this could be offered or received, but this was unlikely.
• Anyone senior to us in years we would call ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, unless instructed by them to do otherwise. If respect needed to be emphasised then these could be used at any time.
• If you knew someone’s Christian name you would not use it unless invited to in an introduction. It would be Mr., Mrs, or Miss as appropriate. Again, Sir or Madam could be used if superiority is clear or even suspected.
• If passing someone you know, gentlemen should raise or touch the rim of their hats. If a lady then stops to engage them in conversation the hat should be removed until the lady moves on.
– there is a lovely story involving my Father. In the early sixties he was a civil servant working in the city of London, in Somerset House. The ‘uniform’ in the city was great-coat and black bowler hat. This hat was raised or the rim touched at all required moments. One day when returning home and almost at our garden gate, he met an acquaintance. He started to raise his hat. At the same moment, his acquaintance offered his hand for a handshake greeting which was also acceptable, but was a more familiar approach. Dad accepted this and so started to offer his hand in return. His friend had also realised the disparity and was starting to raise his bowler hat at the same time. My Mother relays this story as she was watching from the window and says that the greeting was attempted three times with hats being raised and hands offered alternately, until finally they gave up and just said hello.
• On ending the conversation, if with a lady, the hat was returned to the head and with a gentleman it was raised or the rim touched on parting.
That may seem very involved but that was the way we were taught to behave, the expected ‘norms’; and THAT was just for the greeting!
I am not suggesting we re-adopt these social expectations, this was just a bit of fun. But, we can be certain that when our ‘normal’ is returned we will feel very strange shaking hands with strangers or even standing right next to them in a meeting or gathering.
I used to give a talk called ‘Selling, Ballroom Dancing and Space Invaders’. The latter reference is to those who invade our personal space. I would not be surprised if our normal personal space has been extended due to ‘social distancing’.
Let’s hope we can soon return to ‘social nearness’, or for the brave, ‘social closeness’, and we can look forward to sharing time AND SPACE with everyone we wish.
BANTER OR BULLYING?
CHARACTER BUILDING, OR CHARACTER DEMOLISHING?
How important is it for everyone to be resilient, thick-skinned, even hard-nosed?
Life can be hard. Without one or more of these traits we run the risk of being beaten down by the more forceful and ultra-confident types.
To illustrate, let me describe an extreme version of this:
A confident go-getter enjoys ‘banter’ with their colleagues. One colleague is a less confident and seldom joins in with the exchange of ‘winding-up’ and derisory comments. To some, this makes them ideal targets for such banter, and the comments start.
Initially teasing, they are easily shrugged off. But, they continue, and can develop a hint of mocking. Others, wanting to remain with the confident and ‘favoured’ group, will find themselves joining in, sometimes without intending to. Within a short period of time, perhaps a few weeks, one person has become the butt of most of the ‘banter’ going on.
Originators of office/school/group banter will claim it is ‘character building’. They believe they are helping those bearing the brunt of the humour to gain a thicker-skin, to ‘man-up’. The ‘Butt’ may well attempt to join in, but will show their inexperience in making quips and digs and will likely receive more ‘digs’ as a result. Initial banter is usually ignored, but continued and it gradually eats away at the recipient, resulting in lost esteem and confidence.
Life is hard. Perhaps we should encourage this form of banter to help weed-out those not capable of defending themselves and so to form stronger teams.
But, what are we doing if this continues unabated? We are making someone’s life pretty miserable. They will see it as bullying and will find it more and more difficult to become involved, contribute, socialise and engage.
Then there is the other extreme, where we cosset and protect the weak and avoid all banter and ‘wind-ups’. I remember when a boss I had in the mid 90’s apologised to me for swearing. He assumed that, as I didn’t swear, it must be that it offends me. Bless him! Extreme swearing does offend me, but the occasional ‘Anglo-Saxon Derivative’ (as my English teacher used to say) can add richness to the language. The reason I didn’t swear was because I had four young impressionable daughters at home and Dad swearing, even inadvertently, was not the example I wanted to give them.
There is another way. I saw this happen once and it had a great positive impact on me. At one stage in my career, the boss was also the chief source of the office banter. He would rip into anyone, strong or weak and wind them up to a high level. Most of us recognized this and responded in kind (to a lower level; we wanted to stay in good books). There was one chap who did not take this well. He was a really nice guy and had much to contribute to the group. However, it was clear that he was enjoying being at work less and less. His mood changed and his engagement with all of us was less frequent and helpful. He was becoming isolated. This was not the group’s intention, but none recognised it for what it was and no-one wanted to suggest to the boss that he stopped. In the end, the boss sorted it. He was perceptive and understood fully the risks to the team and to our colleague. The boss took him to one side and had a chat with him. The next thing I know, our colleague was smiling, animated and seemingly in awe of the boss! His output increased and his loyalty knew no bounds. He was even seen to join in with the banter occasionally.
What did the boss say? Eventually, my colleague confided in me.
In a nutshell the boss had told him that he was sorry that such actions and comments were upsetting him. He told him how valuable and valued he was, how he should ignore anything that offended and to regard it as immature behavior on their part. He wanted my colleague to come to him and tell him at any time if anything was bugging or upsetting him, because he wanted him to be happy in his work and to enjoy his time. The boss, even said he regretted the way he behaved but that it was now expected of him and he was worried that any change would be regarded as a weakness.
In showing humanity and humility, the boss had succeeded in turning round the whole situation.
Perhaps this is the best approach when such ‘banter’ risks getting out of hand; risks losing a colleague, or worst of all, demolishes someone’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
There is no easy answer. But, taking account of people’s feelings can result in stronger teams, stronger relationships, and stronger leadership.
Some rules of emailing, yes, we’re still making the same mistakes.
How often do you receive and email and have objected to the contents? The objection may be mild, it may be significant or it may be something in between? Too many times
How many of us have written one straight back, assuming our interpretation is correct, and damaged that relationship? Too many of us.
They say that the art of letter writing is being lost due to the convenience and speed of texting, emailing and the like. Speed and convenience is a strong incentive to use these modes of communicating, however, make it too fast and it can be dangerous to your business.
- ‘Hearing’ a tone of voice that changes the interpretation
- Making a sarcastic comment that is either inappropriate or taken literally
- Sending something which no-one has proof-read; which is poorly spelt and constructed
- Only answering one question and ignoring the other three
- Assuming familiarity and making it too informal for the contact
Some simple rules which should overcome these dangers and pitfalls:
- If it reads as though it was written with attitude, leave it and come back later. Try and read it with a smile on your face, it can sound so different! THEN respond accordingly.
- PROOF READ everything. Poor spelling, grammar, or punctuation can suggest you are not thorough or professional.
- Avoid humour, particularly sarcasm. If you want to include levity, an exclamation mark could help to signpost this.
- Read everything received more than once and you will find other things which need a response.
- Read everything before you send it, to avoid these classic blunders, and others.
- Why not pick up the ‘phone?! It is more efficient and effective; you can cover more points in less time; you can build better business relationships. Then summarise and confirm by email. This is far more effective and professional than a rushed email or text.
Avoid the traps of fast texting or emailing and build professional relationships; use the ‘phone, or, even better, meet them face to face.
KICKING THE HABIT – and adopting a better one
“Old habits die hard”. Very true that one.
Another, which is one of my favourite quotes, is known as:
Einstein’s definition of insanity: ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.
This is very true when it comes to training or coaching. I’ll explain:
When training and coaching, we show the delegate(s) how they can do things more easily and more effectively, helping them to be more productive and successful. We encourage the delegate(s) to embrace the new ideas and embed them in their daily routine.
They say it takes at least 28 days of daily repetition for the new skills to embed and to fully replace the ‘old habits’.
So, the concern of every good trainer is that, over time, old habits will creep back into regular use. As expected, success obtained with the new skills starts to decline. With the year following any training or coaching, the poor delegate is back to square one. At this point it is not unheard of for the delegate or company involved to suggest that the training was ineffective, or even a waste of money!
Luckily, I have not received such feedback.
This is why the best trainers or coaches offer ‘refreshers’ on a regular basis, perhaps every 3-6 months, to help maintain the focus and to fully embed the new skills and techniques. As an alternative, I also offer the Salient Mentoring Programme; a monthly re-focus and target management system that keeps people on track, motivated and successful.
Unfortunately, not everyone goes for more than the single, deep plunge they get from dipping into Salient expertise. They feel that the short-term fix is all they need and for some this has indeed worked. Some have grasped many of the new ideas and skills and applied them with tenacity. These companies are seeing a marked difference in their sales results.
Glib though it may be, the saying that holds true in all these cases is simply:
‘If you want things to change, you have to make some changes’.
…and not let old habits undermine those successful changes.
- Those on a diet do not stop as soon as they reach their ideal weight; they work hard to maintain it.
- You may spend weeks or months achieving peak fitness. If you stop there it only takes a short time to return to ‘couch potato’ status!
- The best mentors have their own mentors to help keep them at the top of their game. Sales people not at the top of their game will lose focus, and lose business.
Get to the top of your game and learn how to STAY THERE by refreshing and adding to your skills!
STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS
- There are some people out there who just simply do not get what you are doing in business.
- There are those out there who will show interest in your products, services, and in you, but they will then drop from the radar and not respond to any of your approaches.
- There are those those who insist you drop the price or they will go elsewhere.
- There are those who use you to put pressure on their present supplier and, in reality, have no intention of buying from you.
“If you have been affected in any way by the content of the above four statements……”
Seriously, there are many reasons that people will NOT place business with you, all of which can be overcome with careful application of recognised skills and techniques.
HOWEVER, political developments have added another issue to this list. We are to leave the EU. What comes next? No-one really knows, and because no-one knows, many businesses will cut back on their spending, buying only the ‘necessities’. If you do not sell their ‘necessities’, you are less likely, even unlikely to sell to them.
PROSPECTING AND SECURING NEW OPPORTUNITIES ARE LIKELY TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT during the coming months.
More difficult, but not impossible. Certainly, we will need to work smarter and have plans which are carefully constructed, timed and focused. We will need contingency plans now more than ever, as we plough on into the political unknown.
To make sales; to make MORE sales in a difficult market requires new strategies, extra skills and techniques, contingencies, but most of all, it needs careful planning.
I have planned for this! I have a coaching programme called ‘2020 Vision for Business’ (what else?!) In this, we will work on sales and marketing plans, strategies and contingencies, taking sales to the next level and ‘scaling-up’ your business; to be the best while others may flounder.
Whether or not you book on the programme, you will need plans and contingencies for growing your business next year. Don’t leave your success to chance.
Plan and prepare now, to grow your business, despite political and market forces.