We are often unaware of the expressions we use at work, even when the situation requires us to stay professional and confident in a debate or a discussion. The words we say influence how others we work with judge our personality and expertise and so it’s worth paying attention to our communication with them. Here are a few phrases you should eliminate from your dialogue.
It’s not my fault!
You have been in business long enough to know that there is always something that goes wrong. It will be very tempting to blame it on somebody else or the circumstances in the heat of the moment because your instinct tells you that it will make you look better at that certain situation.
But the truth is: It won’t. Finding the one to blame should never be a focus of a professional discussion. Instead, you should take responsibility for your part and turn the discussion towards solving the problem. Probably the hardest words in the English dictionary are I apologize, but if you can say it without shame you will earn respect and find a good solution much faster. The more determined you seem to clean up the mess the more people will trust you in the future.
I don’t have time for this.
I get it, you are busy and you are pressed for time. It makes you anxious and impatient. But you know, we are all busy and telling how much you have on your plate is not going to convince anyone.
It is not about time but rather about priorities so if you are aware of your freedom of choice it will be much easier for you to decide between yes and no to respond to the person who tries to block time on your calendar. If you want to hear their new ideas but your schedule is full then tell them they have five minutes to convince you or an option to come back next week. If you need to choose between a potential new client and missing an important family dinner again just remember: it’s always a choice you make based on your priorities. Let go of the rest and don’t let time put a pressure on you.
I don’t know/I’m not sure…
Sometimes, you get an unexpected question from a coworker or a client and you suddenly cannot think of anything to respond: that’s when these words might slip out of your mouth and the moment you see the look on their faces across the table you know you shouldn’t have said that.
Saying I don’t know makes you look like you give up or you don’t care enough about your business and it will turn people away. Even if you cannot come up with a perfect answer just tell them you will figure it out, you will let them know by tomorrow or anything that suggests that you will do everything as soon as possible to clear their doubts. If it’s a negotiation with someone who deliberately intends to put you into an uncomfortable situation you can respond with another question or make their question seem unrelated, just don’t wave the white flag with an uncertain response!
I am so tired/hungover/sick.
Complaining in a work environment just spreads negativity and will make you seem like the weak-link. If you really feel unwell you always have a choice to take a day off or work from home but once you enter the office you should give your best even if you slept two hours the night before.
It is essential to take responsibility for all your actions inside and outside of the workplace and to keep all areas in your life under control. Complaining doesn’t fit into professionalism.
Even if it is just a figure of speech, if you beg people to trust you or believe your words it will have the opposite effect. If you show integrity with your everyday efforts and you articulate your statements with unshakable confidence then people will believe you. It’s that simple.
If you notice that people look unsure or puzzled around you, it is better to ask them about their doubts and respond to each one of them with candor. Transparency will bring trust and if you stay true to yourself and your point of view they will believe you without convincing.
Train for skills, hire for attitude. CEOs and business owners learn this the hard way, but what they all agree to is that the best qualities your employees could possess are curiosity to learn and high adaptability to change around and within them. If your employees are driven they will drive your business to success as well. Want more proof? Read on!
Your employees are human beings
The experiences we have in life shape our mindset and shape our character as well no matter if they occur inside or outside the walls of the office. Look for people who are eager to learn in every single area of their life, who are versatile and who seek for ways how to implement the things they learn during their working hours into their personal life and the other way round.
Work-life harmony is the new work-life balance and when we look at the experiences of an individual during the interview we should see the person as a whole and not just based on the points listed in their CV. Travel experience could worth more at times than a conference attended, just like the books someone reads in his free time really says a lot about him. Get to know your candidates well and don’t be afraid to ask them personal questions.
„Knowing is the enemy of learning” –Tom Chi
There are some people who don’t settle until they hear they are right and listening doesn’t exist in their dictionary. They are the ones you should avoid at all costs and certainly not hire them under any circumstances! Teach your current employees to always look for more than one possible solution and to question everything, even you! Hire people who bring a new shade to the palette of your community and let the ideas flow through collaboration.
What we can learn from the start-up world
If you ask any venture capitalist about where they prefer to put their money, most of them will tell you that they would rather invest in the most promising team than the best idea. The team that has the right attitude and the ability to learn and grow with the idea they hatch will bring back the money as opposed to a brilliant business idea which fades away without proper execution.
Growth is a priority even for companies outside the startup scene and the only way to keep those charts on a rising scale is to hire the people who make it happen. After all, the best entrepreneurs are the ones who jump from the cliff and learn how to build a parachute on the way down. Your team should have the same attitude if you want to outperform others with your business.
Change is inevitable
What we learn today will be outdated, if not useless 3 years from now. That’s why university degrees don’t really prepare students for the jobs they take up in the future. No matter how many degrees and certificates a candidate holds, if they are not ready to develop themselves every single day professionally and personally you are better off with someone with a shorter CV and a better attitude. Focus on finding out their motives and what drives them to learn and you will get a clear picture of whether you can work with them in the long run or not.
Paradigm shift in psychology
While a few decades ago psychological tests divided people into categories and analyzed distinct fixed characters, contemporary studies show that people do change over time if they experience a shift in mindset. We are a collection of thoughts and thinking patterns which we learn from our early age and the more receptive we are to new ideas the faster we learn and grow which is the highway to success, as we know.
The 10.000-hour rule
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the journey to success in his book called Outliers, and he proves that there is not really a thing called talent. Anything can be learnt and anyone can reach mastery and become the best in a particular activity after the magical number of 10.000 hours. Anyone could become a professional actor with this amount of practice, but not everybody has the affinity for spending that much time playing a character and memorizing scripts all day.
Not all your candidates will have 10.000 hours behind their back in their field. But the lesson this theory teaches us is that anything can be learnt, it just takes practice, so you are better off with someone who wants to learn and grow with your business.
Have you ever wondered why most companies don’t take customer service as a priority? When, in fact, managing these interactions can be the single most important factor in retaining customers and building up a loyal fan base. Managers often get lost in the process and the system aspect of this department and they make sure that each complaint received an automatic reply. Yet, they might fail to focus on the quality of these responses.
Let’s say you decide to go to a café and enjoy a nice, warm cup of coffee. There is a café on almost every corner of your area and they offer the very same fresh brew what you get on the opposite side of the street. How do you make up your mind and decide where to go?
If you think of your favorite café right now it might not be the one closest to you and it might not even be the cheapest or the one with the most appealing interior design. Perhaps, it is that small joint that’s always full but you are ready to fight for the last available table in the corner just to have a quick espresso there. Why? Because of the experience. The way they greet you the moment you step through the door, the way they look after your special requirements. You feel that they actually care about you.
We pick our favorite products and services based on our experience and we are willing to pay much more for the company that offers the very same thing like many others if they make us feel special. Customer support can influence this experience in two ways: improving your team’s interaction with your customers and enabling the flow of feedback to other teams.
Your customer has a name
There is one word we like to hear the most in the entire world, backed by science, and it’s our own name. It’s worth taking your customers’ names along with their email addresses at the stage of list building and then implementing them into your automated responses as well as in the subject lines of your emails. Even better if they have the chance to talk to your team over the phone and hear their name a couple of times from a friendly representative.
When your customer opens his inbox he might see a message starting with „Your request is being processed” or one that says „Thanks for your patience, John! We are working hard on resolving your issue as soon as we can! Have a beautiful day!” Which one sound more appealing to you?
Make sure that every touchpoint with your customers looks like a human interaction and not a struggle with a heartless computer. It’s that simple.
Don’t forget about your internal customers
If you expect your Customer Service team to smile and spread positivity all day long you have to keep them happy first. People strive on appreciation, so make sure you highlight good practices and achievements regarding not only the quantity but also the quality of their responses. Let them experience the product as much as possible and share their feedback before talking to a single customer about it. You can even gamify the way they work and reward them with bonuses or lavish team building trips when they reach to the next level or set a new high score. Either way, they have to love their job in order to put a smile on your customers’ faces.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
Your staff and/or customer service representatives receive an immense amount of feedback every day and they can discover the repeating patterns in these queries that are worth more than any conversation with a focus group, hypothetical analysis or testing process. Make sure your team gets to know about these inputs as early as possible so that when you say “We are fixing the problem” you really are “fixing” the problem.
Go the extra mile for your customers and impress them with doing always more than they would ever expect from you. Make them feel special at all times and treat them as your best friend because if they feel appreciated your business is set up for success.
Facebook is still the most popular social media platform for advertising for a handful of reasons. One of them is the fact that it lets you target very specific groups of people and so you can make sure that your cost per lead remains really low and the ones who click through are more likely to be converted into customers on your website. Let’s see a couple of targeting options and see how specific we get!
Small business owners
If you target this group you can specify whether you want to reach people working in home offices or in a small office. For example, if you advertise available office spaces you can reach out to small business owners working at home within a 10mile radius from the location of your building. You can also target ones who live with their families or with roommates and probably have to move to an office as their business expands and makes working from home difficult for them and the ones living with them.
If you, on the other hand, want to advertise e-books or seminars about management tips you can also add freelancers, private teachers and other self-employed professionals into your niche or the ones who expressed interest in becoming one. Narrow them down by income if you wish, and set desktop as the device they use so that you catch them while working.
Facebook knows everything about your family situation and it becomes easy targeting moms and dads with newborn babies, toddlers, preschoolers all the way up to teenagers and grown-up children. It becomes more interesting when you reach out to fit moms who are interested in weight loss, trendy moms who shop online or single moms are keen on dating sites.
You can even find stay-at-home dads or work-from-home fathers with specific interests, political views and religion. The ones who rent an apartment and share it with other families (multi-family households) might be interesting in moving and new teen drivers are possibly looking for car deals nearby their location. You have to know your audience so well like you know your best friends in order to know what their motives are and whom to target with your product.
Dealing with distance
If your website lists cheap flights or products for frequent travelers you might address expats or families of expats, college students living away from home or even the ones who are in a distance relationship. You can also include adventure travelers and digital nomads or exclude them if your product is not meant for the ones who travel for excitement.
French and Spanish speakers living in the US, perhaps, want to get enrolled in an English course or find a bilingual kindergarten for their children.
People who have already visited your website
Facebook lets you set up custom audiences so you can easily retarget people who have already expressed interest in your offers. If you are selling an e-book or any downloadable content you can include people in your ad set who have already read your related blog post (i.e. visited the link that leads to this page) and exclude people who have already downloaded your content (you can measure this with the link to your thank you page after downloading your content). This lets you target an extremely narrow group of people so you usually don’t have to make additional settings to your campaign.
If your product or service can be given as a gift you can target people whose friend is getting married soon, the ones who have a close friend with an upcoming birthday or couples who count the days until their anniversary. You don’t need to keep all your gifting guide ads to the festive season!
It is a great opportunity for heartfelt headlines as well which congratulate people or remind them of the fact that they have less than a month to find something for the person they love the most. The more personal you get the bigger your chances to engage with your target audience!
People with a passion
You can easily find pet owners by showcasing your ad to the users who expressed interest in pet food and Facebook pages about cats & dogs. You can even find users who love farming, fishing and forestry, professional runners or belly dancers.
It is better to look for these categories under job titles, employment or industries rather than interests because most people express an interest towards activities they don’t actually practice. Although, if you target people who are interested in a specific gear, equipment or tool related to their passion you will most probably speak to your potential customers.