Conflict Resolution With Different Personality and Communication Styles

Sometimes when people are different, we think they are difficult eff.com_.CDgraphic11

Differences in personality and communication styles affect communication, misunderstandings, conflict, and stress. By understanding these differences we can have more success in achieving positive outcomes.

Sometimes the biggest problem is not recognizing how and why treating people the way you want to be treated may actually have adverse effects. You’ll have many ‘a-ha’ moments personally and professionally. . . and perhaps sore from laughing so hard at the typical mistakes we make.

Conflict Resolution and Managing Emotionscroc_3

The pressure is high, emotions are raw, and the moments are brief. How do you tap into your intelligence when the situation seems insane?

Most of us are uncomfortable with conflict yet it can be handled with diplomacy. Silence is acceptance. Ignoring it often creates more conflict and accelerates emotional spirals than by simply dealing with it. By learning how to handle conflict and emotions (theirs and ours), we can improve relationships, inspire positive change, and massively reduce stress.

You’ll also understand some powerful basics on how men and women react and communicate differently when stress and emotions come into play. Know how and when to handle these difficult conversations, and even tips on how not to cry.

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How to Communicate with Diplomacy

How to Communicate with Diplomacyqtipsgraphic_MASTER copy
Master the Moment, before it hits the fan

Feel confident in communicating through stressful situations. Know the steps to create the calm and respectful environment you need, and how to keep it that way. Recognize the Human Factor when it comes to listening. Understand impact and
game changer of Verbal, Vocal, and Visual in communication:

  • Which words are known to trigger emotional responses so you can avoid them
  • What words ensure clarity, have impact, and maintain respectful dialogue
  • How to use your tone to instantly change the dynamics of communication
  • What you didn’t know about body language that will change everything
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When No Means Back-off

When Approaching an Unsuspecting Customer, Recognize when No really Means “Back off Now or You’ll Never See Me Again”

No can mean many things when uttered by a customer. Yet when it comes to the unsuspecting customer, be extra careful.

An unsuspecting customer is someone who didn’t come to you, you approached them.

Now of course, the worst case scenario of this is with phone calls to your home, unsolicited intrusions into your inbox or that ‘knock’ on your front door. Granted, these are intrusive and hard to avoid yet at least we can have a smidgeon of control by call blocking, spam filters, and signs on our property. I’m talking about those times when you are out in public and someone ‘approaches you’.

We know we can’t avoid being advertised to or stop people from approaching us in public yet it can be done with an element of respect and consideration. An example of this are kiosks in airports. You are walking along to get to your flight, you see them, they see you, they approach you to promote their product – you can simply smile and shake your head No and walk on by. The sales person respects the unsuspecting customer’s privacy and disinterest (in a product they weren’t looking for in the first place) and the customer respects the sales person for not infringing on their request to be left alone.

Now, I have nothing against a sales person giving it another attempt – I respect that. Maybe your customer/communication skills and passion for your product can inspire the interest of the unsuspecting customer. If you don’t have those skills or, if you’re only out for self-interest, look out! You and the product you are representing may never have a chance with that customer again.

Here’s an example of where it went horribly wrong.

Yesterday, I was racing around town catching up on ‘all those errands’ that just pile up. Really hot out there maneuvering through traffic as I go from bank to mailbox to dry cleaners to grocery store, all the while resenting how much time this eats up in my day. I dashed into a healthfood store – the last stop, grabbed the vitamin bottle and went directly to the cash registrar.

There was a Sales Rep for a new product lurking by the check-out counter holding brochures. I knew she was going to approach me and I could tell she was not keen in her ‘job’. Not wanting to be bothered dealing with an unskilled, unmotivated ‘sales person’ while trapped with her at the till while my purchase goes through, I tried to avoid the ‘inevitable pitch’ and do it in a way that was respectful for all involved.

The 1st time she asked me to see her product, I simply said

“I appreciate it yet regrettably, I have absolutely no time today. Perhaps later, just not today. Thank you for understanding.” I thought that was pretty direct in a polite way.

Sales Rep: “Oh, I thought you were someone who was interested in their health.”

Although I was surprised by her comment, she was in her 60′s, probably unskilled in understanding the effects of how she words things and I wanted to be polite.

“Perhaps another day. Please know at this time, I am on the verge of a headache and I’ve a very hectic day. I’m sure you can appreciate why now is not a good time for me.”

The Sales Rep continued to push her product. Incredulous! Since I teach people how to communicate with diplomacy, I thought I’d practice a bit more of what I preach even though I could feel an insulting comment bubbling to the surface. So, I turned to face her directly, steadfast engagement with her eyes and a slow, even tone said . . .

“With all due respect to you, please know – without a doubt – that now, is not the time to promote your product to me.”

If she had respected my wishes, and just let me go, perhaps next time in that store, I’d check out the new product yet no. She pushed again to show me her product.

I left that store knowing I would NEVER COME BACK.

Shame on:
– the company who hired a Rep with no customer service skills and no desire to learn them

– the Rep who ignored the customer’s pleas for the self interest of ‘making a sale’

– the store employee who witnessed and allowed a customer to be harassed by an outside Rep

When you approach an unsuspecting customer, listen to what they mean when they say NO. If not, when it comes to getting their business (add music here) You’re never gonna get it. Never, ever gonna get it.

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Women and Dating

Partner Over Passion: Choices Women Make when Dating

When it comes to single women over 40 and their search for ‘that special guy’, maybe the good guys do win in the end.

I’ve been pondering this of late since 2 good friends of mine are going through strikingly similar situations when it comes to finding that ‘relationship’. Their stories are so exact in their timing and situations that it’s eerie, especially since we all live in different cities and these women are unaware of the others existence.

Here’s the dish . . .
Great mothers, they both raised children while balancing work, and are now accomplished in their chosen professions. They’re fit, good looking, happy, confident, divorced, and in their mid to late 40′s. Their children are late teens and beyond. They would be considered ‘a great catch’ by many.

After venturing out into the world of dating, they both finally met someone who rocked their world! These guys connected to them in so many ways – it was passionate. “It’s like I’ve found my soul mate”. Yet as electrifying the excitement of the relationship was, so came the jolts of big misunderstandings, heated arguments and realizations that, oh no, I can’t stay in this relationship. Too different in their values in certain areas that it would not work out. Both spent 2 years on that Rollercoaster with the man who felt so right yet was so wrong. It’s one thing to know it’s not the right relationship, it’s another thing to turn off the chemistry and walk away. Chemistry is magic and it doesn’t come often.

Then, within a week, I get a call from both of them – same story. I knew they had both met a great guy 2 years ago and that they had some separation periods throughout because both women felt a little unsure when pressed for a stronger relationship. Now, both men wanted a commitment of marriage. This was their dilemma.

Without a doubt, both men were really nice who absolutely adored them. Family and friends thought he was perfect. Never any big conflict or waves. They had so much in common from activities to lifestyle, the perfect partner yet . . . there was no zing. These guys were everything these women thought they wanted yet there was no electrifying chemistry, no big passion spark or ‘ahh’ this is sooooo right when you’re in their presence. You know the feeling I’m talking about?

They didn’t have it from the beginning or throughout. And they do love their man – yet love means many things. Although both women get along with their ex-husbands, they don’t want to go through the agony of a failed invested relationship again and fear making a mistake.

So as women, we’re wondering. Do we have to compromise the passionate chemistry to find the perfect partner? Is there something ‘wrong’ with us if we can’t just appreciate how fortunate we are to have found a nice guy and shallow to expect more? Are we all supposed to believe the ‘zing’ will fade anyway so let that expectation go?

Have we become smarter by giving up on finding that magical chemistry that is so elusive? Or have we given up in our expectations? Hmmm

In the end, it looks like my friends are going to chose the quality of Partner over Passion. I support and will route for them whatever decision they make. Although I don’t know their partners well, I really like them. They’re really nice guys and I’m thrilled to see them win.

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Multi-tasking and The Brain

Don’t be a Multi-tasker, be a Solo-Master!

Consciously trying to multi-task, being pressured into multi-tasking, or when our immediate focus is distracted with the intent of taking on yet another task simultaneously while . . . be aware. It’s tough on the brain.

When you try to accomplish various things simultaneously, you’ll probably end up doing a half-buttocks job on all of them. It trips up the brain and dilutes it’s ability to focus. It’s frustrating, debilitating, stressful, less productive, and perhaps even dangerous.

Example: you’re stressed about an event that happened while trying to pass cars and get somewhere fast while explaining your frustrations to your passenger while she’s interrupting you to remind you of the directions to take, AND simultaneously entering phone numbers into her iPhone, clearly unable to focus more than a minimum on your story and she knows it so she starts asking you questions about your dialogue out of feigned interest yet her next question comes with such bullet speed, you know she wasn’t really listening to the answer you didn’t have time to complete in the first place . . . meanwhile, YOUR cell phone goes off, maybe it’s your son? oh! remember to take the next right at the light, hmmm, if I just reach a little to the left of my pocket I should be able to turn on the bluetooth and take the call or to at least turn off that distracting ringing while keeping my eyes on the road, oops – almost forgot to check that blind spot, what was that question you asked me? Where was I?

Multi-tasking at work, while cooking, while talking/listening to someone when you have way too much on your mind at the same time; its just different variations of the same dilemma.

Heres the truth about multi-tasking – it’s not more efficient.

Terry Small’s latest Brain Bulletin “The #1 Brain Myth and Why it is Dangerous” has some great information and facts from brain scientists to bust open this myth. I’m a fan of these brain bulletins. If you want to try them out, go to and sign up. I’ve also experienced Terry’s brain information live when we were presenters at the same conference. He’s engaging, and so enthusiastic about his topic and the audience’s understanding of it.

So remember, when it comes to doing many things well, to be the master – be a ‘solo-tasker’

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Managing Employee Issues

RE: The Financial Post, June 7th, 2009 Canwest News Service

An article titled: “Why Managers Can’t Manage” by Derek Abma.

I was sadly not surprised by this article as I read it on the plane from Kelowna to Montreal. I was on my way to a large communications company to teach various department leaders skills on managing emotions and stress at work. Mr. Abma’s article reminded me of what seems to be a chronic problem and not enough being done about it.

It’s a good eye opener. Mr. Abma referenced conclusions on Shepell-FGI’s survey of human-resources professionals who attended the Health, Work and Wellness Conference in Vancouver in October. Not only are these statistics shocking to read, it’s even more shocking to know how true it is.

Here’s part of what he wrote:

“Among the findings, 84% of respondents said their organizations have no formal process in place to deal with declining employee productivity or behaviour problems. As well, 81% reported not having a structure in place to deal with issues of employee absenteeism, and 64% said their companies have no specific measures for supporting workers who return to work after an extended absence.

The Shepell-FGI report said employee stress levels rise in tough economic times, which can negatively affect productivity and lead to more absenteeism or disability leave. Karen Seward, Shepell’s senior vice-president of business development, said much of the problem comes down to managers’ inability to discuss personal issues with their employees. Survey: Supervisors lack the tools to deal with employee issues”

If communication in leadership is so important, and if people are our greatest resource, then why are leaders not trained in the obvious skill of effective communication and stress reduction? How stressful for them to not have support structures in place to deal with these issues – stressful for their subordinates – and a stressful plunge in health, productivity, and the bottom line.

A never-ending project is usually one that was never clearly defined in the first place.

Give your leaders clearly defined techniques and skills in how to communicate effectively, give them the clearly defined structures in place to deal with employee issues then watch the ‘statictics’ change for the better.

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Don’t Mess with my Chocolate

Customers Don’t Want to Hear Your Excuses

With any business, sometimes things go wrong; a glitch happens, an error. For whatever reason, the customer did not receive the product or service your business said it would provide. Often customers are fine with it, as long as you take ownership of the mistake you made and resolve it. Basically, deliver what you said you would.

As customers, we often like to hear the reason, so we can understand. But the last thing we want to hear are excuses for why it wasn’t done right in the first place. It’s a passive-defensive response, guaranteed to irritate the customer, and customers may question your consistency in providing future products/services.

Here’s a classic example, it happened a few weeks ago at a Boston Pizza in Lethbridge, AB. Now, I’ve been to this chain in various cities. They deliver as they advertise; it’s consistent. In fact, their Chocolate Explosion Cake is amazing! I’ve got a substance abuse problem with chocolate and their portions are huge!

So, I finished delivering a full day seminar, missed lunch, it’s 5:oo, and I’m ravenous. Across the street from the hotel I notice a Boston Pizza. Great service, however the potatoes aren’t hot and the salmon is overcooked and hard on the ends but no problem. I’m hungry, I’ll eat the middle bits, more than enough food here and it’s still delicious. What I’m really pining for is my chocolate explosion that I deserve and have been dreaming of since I walked in the door. Ooh, ooh, I can’t wait!

The moment it was placed before me, I knew something was wrong. It’s supposed to look chocolaty brown with chunks of white cheesecake in the center laced throughout the soft, smooth mousy/praline like substance being held up by a bottom layer of crumbled chocolate cookie. Ohh, how it cuts with a fork. Ahh, the textures. I had my coffee and Globe & Mail to savor it with; it was all planned! But instead, it was frozen solid, layered with frost, looked mostly white. It was impenetrable. I couldn’t get my fork or knife through it.

In that moment, I felt a hint of righteous indignation. I didn’t order a rock hard frozen cake, and why would you serve it to me like that in the 1st place? With beautiful politeness, I confirm with the server I have appreciated her service, yet did not expect or want a frozen cake. “Could I have it the way you usually serve it?” She offers to ‘put it in the microwave’ for me. Now, for those readers who are not shocked by this comment, perhaps this blog isn’t for you. If your mouth is open with surprise, wait, theres more . . .

You can’t microwave a dessert item like that and perhaps she just doesn’t know. “Could you please see if the chef or kitchen staff have a different suggestion?” I ask. She returns with a message “He said all they can do is microwave it and it’s not his fault. The guy who was supposed to take this dessert out of the freezer forgot so there is nothing he can do about it.” Hmm, I ponder – if I was told about this oversight before being served, I could have chosen to receive it frozen, or change my dessert order.

Now, as a customer, I didn’t feel like being a problem. The caramel/chocolate sauces were already drizzled over it and the dollops of whipped cream were starting to chill against my cake. There can be a solution to this without ruining it, wasting it, or having the restaurant feel they have to give it to me for free.

“Would you please prepare my dessert to go? I’ll let it thaw and enjoy it in my hotel room later.” I’m feeling smug as I’ve created a win/win – the restaurant has an opportunity to keep the customer happy and I can have my cake and eat it too . . . well, when it thaws out, that is.

However, I must say I was surprised when my to go dessert was delivered to me by the manager. He starts off by stating how it wasn’t his or the chef’s fault it was frozen, I heard the same lame excuse blaming someone else’s forgetfulness and they would have happily micro-waved it for me. Yet the coup de grace for me was when I looked at my dessert. It was naked, no caramel/chocolate drizzles, no dollop of whipped cream. I mean where’s the customer service love in that! Ouch. I didn’t feel like being an inconvenience by asking it to be prepared as it is advertised, I’m still paying full price for it.

You see, this story goes beyond mere cake. It’s a reflection of that particular management team, the leader, and how they train their team in customer service. As a franchise owner, I believe you have an expectation to maintain the standards of the chain – you’re part of the overall team success. Adhere to your standards of consistency. When there is a glitch in your quality control, please remember, customers don’t want to hear your excuses. Give them options and just do the right thing.

A glitch only turns into a problem when the customer has not been treated professionally and with consideration.

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Customer Service and Serotonin

Did you know that every time you perform a kind or considerate act, it automatically strengthens your immune system? It also stimulates production of serotonin in the brain. And the more serotonin you have, the better you feel. So, being nice to others is good for you, and it feels good? This sounds like a bit of a win-win to me. Yet it doesn’t just stop there.

Equally exciting, is that the person receiving the kindness is going through the exact same thing. You are both experiencing increased happiness and stronger immune systems. What is also fascinating about this, is that people who witness the kindness, will also experience the same benefits of increased health and happiness. Talk about the ripple effect, I’m smiling just thinking about it.

How can you tap into these amazing benefits? You can do it every day at work by delivering brilliant customer service. It’s brilliant because you light up your life and the lives of others as a result. It also happens to be brilliant for business. Feeling good has a direct impact on your productivity. So, we’re happier, healthier, and more productive.

The art of communicating brilliant customer service is even more powerful when it comes to problems. This is good. Think about it, if you don’t have problems to fix – you don’t have a business. Business is all about solving problems for people and brilliant customer service is about doing it well so you, and your business prospers.

Have a sincere intent to be of service, pleasant, considerate, and understand how to communicate that from the start. There are some powerful foundational things to know when it comes to ensuring customer service success from first impressions, to building rapport, and problem solving. It’s enlightening, empowering, and according to research, it’s good for you.

So go out there and be brilliant. And in doing so, (to take the words from Spock, of the star ship Enterprise) you will ‘live long and prosper’.

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Canadians Dare to be Bold

Happy Canada Day, 2009!

Canadian flags are everywhere. Maple leafs proudly displayed on shirts, hats, painted on faces, even the flags on vehicles reserved for hockey teams have now been replaced with the national flag. Parks are filled with music, celebration, the fireworks just finished.

It’s great, yet it also seems somewhat brash . . . for a Canadian. Rather loud and attention getting behaviour . . . don’t you think?

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Canada and I proudly extend a most heartfelt and appreciative acknowledgment to this country, all Canadians, everyone who has enjoyed Canada, and all those who hold this country near and dear in their hearts. It’s just that on a whole, although Canadians are proud of their country, it’s not something that they display in such an overt manner, except for today. It’s as if Canada Day gives Canadians ‘permission’ to be bold and demonstrative.

As a communication style, Canadians tend to be more reserved. Polite, quick to apologize, somewhat humble, and not too confrontational (notice the inference?). We’re not that direct or demonstratively aggressive.

Perhaps it was a comedian I heard on CBC radio who summed it up perfectly “When we get mad, we write a letter”

When I’m in the United States, it’s common to see American flags laced throughout the residential areas. Americans are patriotically demonstrative – especially on their home turf. Canadians aren’t, unless they are traveling – then the flag comes out . . . on their luggage.

And to those Canadians living abroad, I’d like to extend a special ‘good thoughts’ your way. My most memorable Canada Day’s were when I was far away; 5 of them in France and 4 in 4 other countries. I felt a special excitement to see who else was Canadian & have that instant common bond – we’d search each other out – reminisce and appreciate. We’d dare to be boldly Canadian.

The funny thing about Canadians, we may not be demonstratively patriotic the other 364 days of the year. We may not flaunt our flag on our front lawns. We may not even remember the words to our national anthem. Yet today we can step out of our reserved mode and dare to be bold.

Happy Canada Day.

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Mealtime Manipulation; Toddlers to Teenagers

Persuading Toddlers to Teenagers to Eat Healthy Food

Knowing and wanting your children to eat healthy food is one thing. Getting them to do it is another. As they learn to exert their own will and say ‘no’ in the various stages of their development, rather than the stress of forcing, lecturing, giving ultimatums or any of that ‘bad vibe’ stuff, try using a bit of merry manipulation. It’s fun, creative, and time better spent for all of you. Instead of a ‘battle of wills’, mealtime can be fun and a bit playful – and we all know how well kids learn through play.

Basically, whatever ‘turns them on’ at that particular age of their life can inspire you to create that same sense of fun with food. Get them eating it without them associating it to something they don’t like. Here are some ideas . . .

You can turn it into a game of cause and effect. Every time you take a bite out of it, it makes you do something. You can’t help it – it’s as if the food takes control of your body! Take a bite out of their food and pretend it makes your arm wiggle all over the place. Oh no, this food makes me hop on one leg! And when I eat this, it makes me fall to the ground as if I am dead for 5 seconds. Then, let them try it.

During the particularly defiant stages, sitting beside my son with my plate just close enough for him to reach it, I’d try things like “I didn’t give you any “X” because I’m afraid you’ll like it too much and I don’t feel like sharing so whatever you do, don’t touch it” (said in a mock stern tone). They love to defy so use that against them. Is it manipulation, perhaps, yet is it fun. You bet! I once told him that the reason I didn’t want him to eat a particular food is that it will make him invisible to me for 5 seconds. Of course I’d find reasons to look away or get up for something – always able to see him somehow in my peripheral vision or in a reflection. Then, when I notice he eats it, I make a big do about ”oh no, where is my son! He was here a second ago, I can’t see him anywhere!” Then 5 seconds later, pretend you can see him again. Or, pretend when they eat a certain food, it makes You do something – so they have fun manipulating you.

One afternoon, my 2 young sons and I saw a show about dinosaurs – herbivores. After, I rigged lettuce leaves on bungee cords and hung them over the backs of chairs and other fixtures and we’d walk around the room like dinosaurs eating the leaves. I’d been trying to get them to eat lettuce for ages and this worked like a charm.

Pizza is a great place to sneak healthy food into them. I got away with hiding broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, lots of veggies under that layer of melted cheese. For 1 son, I called it ‘Rainbow Pizza’ – he loved rainbows. And for the older son, when he questioned the unusual colours in the pizza, (my inspiration was the Monty Python skit about the chocolates filled with lark’s vomit?), I just told him it was bugs, monster vomit and Kryptonite. He couldn’t wait to eat it.

From a young age, we started the tradition of a fruit drink each morning. Fresh and frozen fruit, juice and add yogurt or flax oil (hardly noticeable in taste) to keep the drink from separating. Makes great Popsicles, too. It’s easy, fast, and delicious. And with a supply of various frozen fruit it provides fantastic variety and combinations.

Of course as they got older, they were pretty well trained to eat a variety of things yet if they still tried to get out of it, I’d try other types of merry manipulation like – public peer pressure. Elementary school boys don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their friends so I’d threaten to give them a big slobbery kiss in front of everyone if they didn’t eat some of the healthy stuff. Yep, that worked. As they became tall, strong, teenagers, I had to change my strategy so I’d threatened to show my old lady stomach if they didn’t finish their food. Even though I am in good shape, no teenager wants to see their mothers stomach – ewwww.

Parenting comes with such responsibility and when it comes to healthy nutrition for our children, try a bit of merry manipulation. It’s fun, creative and reduces stress.

Bon appetite!

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