WE ARE THE MESSAGE

It takes just 4 seconds for someone to make a judgment about you. This judgement can be either positive, or negative. In the first 4 minutes you have the chance to make a lasting impression on that person. First impressions are everything! My first impression of Pauline was definitely a good one (she is after all a seasoned professional!). She came across as a very passionate woman and one who knows what she is talking about.

So what did I base this judgement on, and what do other people people base their judgements on?

They are based on your communication skills. There are three main categories within this that lead to the formation of those immediate judgments.

1. The words you use

2. The way in which you say the words

3. Your body language

All of these are very crucial to good customer service and communication, however some are slightly more crucial than others. Here is a pie chart for you that breaks down the importance of the three factors used for making first impressions:

pie-chart

As you can see in the above diagram, the three elements of effective communication have been broken down even further. The most important being nonverbal communication or, your body language. So what does body language consist of? Its eye contact, are you making strong direct eye contact? Or are you averting your eyes and avoiding the customers eye. Its posture, are you leaning in as if you are really interested and passionate? Or are you standing back nervous and tentative. It is also gestures and facial expressions, are you nodding along with what the customer is saying, portraying your interest? Or are you standing there twiddling your thumbs.

The diagram also shows the breakdown of how you say it. It is important to keep your pitch interesting, to have some variation. Can you imagine sitting there listening to a spiel from someone with a voice like nails on a chalkboard, and trying to enjoy it? The pace you speak at is another very important tool. Pauline taught us a trick, speak quickly when just talking about fluff (the not so important stuff) and speak slowly and clearly about the main points, the information you really want the listener to take away with them.

Now to talk about the lasting impression, how is this made?

This is made by creating rapport. Rapport is that ‘Click’ feeling you get when talking to someone you can relate to. It is where you, as a communicator, can make a real difference by using your personality and values. When you establish rapport with people, you are showing empathy and building trust.

This brought us onto Paulines next topic.

We learnt of a book which greatly affected Paulines life, a book called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Through this I was taught two ethics which I found very interesting!

Character vs. Personality Ethic. The character ethic is the idea that a person advances in basis of their character. Character ethic depends on deep changes within each of us, while the personality ethic falls back on calculated and taught methods or techniques (those you can see in action by your local car salesman!).  The personality ethic does not challenge us, neither does it bring about deep changes within us, while the character ethic is built on the principles that govern human effectiveness. You must “start first with yourself, your character and your motives”.

Of course the natural path for this discussion to take was for us to then reflect in on ourselves. To think of our own values, visions and ‘missions’.

So here goes nothing, this is my very own mission statement!

My goal is to pass the first year of the BIT with a B grade or higher. I will take every effort necessary to ensure that I meet and, if possible, exceed my goal by making lifestyle changes and persevering, yet still having time for my friends, family and other interests.

One last thing I need to mention as I took a lot away from it, was the “birds behavioural style survey”. This was to show us which sort of behavioural style we have. You would predominantly fall into one of four categories, but in some cases could switch between two in different situations. The four categories are as follows:

Dove: The compassionate and peaceful dove. The dove is people-orientated, loyal, friendly, hard working and a great team player but tends to avoid change, confrontation, risk-taking and assertiveness.

Owl: The wise owl. The owl is logical, mathematically minded, methodical and sometimes seen as a perfectionist. The owl can be slow to make decisions and inflexible if rules and logic says otherwise. Owls are not big risk takers but love detail.

Peacock: The showy peacock. The peacock loves talking, being the centre of attention, has passion/ enthusiasm and is happy/ optimistic. Peacocks can be accused of talking too much, and aren’t good with detail or time-control.

Eagle: The bold eagle. Eagles are dominant, stimulated by challenge, decisive and direct. Eagles can be blunt/ stubborn, can lose sight of the big-picture and can be insensitive to other people’s needs. Eagles are natural achievers.

Through this I gained the knowledge that I am an owl. Which came as no surprise to me! However I do believe it is based on the situation I am in. But by finding out that was my behavioral type, I can now identify areas I need to improve upon. I need to learn to more readily accept change, after all I know it’s not the end of the world but quite often a new step in the right direction. I need to work on my indecisiveness! Which I have known for a long time but so far have not had much success in changing. I also need to work on my presence and self-confidence, which I’m hoping will just come along as time goes by.. But we shall see how that theory goes.

So to sum things up, through the class with Pauline I learnt a lot! It opened my eyes to many aspects of customer service I had never even considered before. She made me understand how complex Customer Service really is. It’s not, as many people would think, a simple “Hi, can I help you?”

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