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Making Things Better: It Always Starts With You

grumpy-cafe-baristaMindful customer service

I frequent a local café. It’s very close to my home, the coffee is good and the prices are fair. The service, though, is… meh. Sometimes worse than meh. A lot of the staff are 20-something hipsters with a busier-than-thou attitude. Too hip to muster up a sincere smile or engage in jovial small talk. I usually leave feeling indifferent about the place. I’m not the only one – this cafe gets decidedly mediocre reviews on social media sites.

I’m writing this post a few minutes after I entered the place, having just had a little encounter that epitomizes the customer experience. As I approached the entrance I noticed that one of the main managers of the cafe was a couple of feet ahead of me, about to open the door. He made no eye contact, pushed open the door and held it for a second or two for me to pass through as almost any other human being would do; a basic bare minimum level of politeness. But he’s the manager of the place! I’m a regular customer! It certainly wouldn’t have killed him to say “Hi, how you doing?” And then he could have held open the door for me to enter *ahead of him.* He could have added a “good to see you* and I would have been over the moon. It might seem a little obsequious and subservient by hipster standards but most customers would find it charming. And people like me, born long ago, in the 1960s, would see it as just decent hospitable behavior. I don’t think our perspective is entirely irrelevant; I’d guess at least half the patrons of this cafe were born in the 1960s or earlier.

If your business is not quite as successful as you think it deserves to be, before you go around diagnosing the problem as being caused by this or that employee or this or that external factor, look in the mirror first. Oh, did I mention that the owner of this cafe is usually absent but when he’s around he often look grumpy and is minimally communicative. Pro tip: If you’re a pronounced introvert, don’t go into a business that’s built around social connection. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about coffee, or beer or wine or whatever if you’re not even more passionate about making people happy.

Making things better – it starts with you. Is your behavior excellent and exemplary at all times. If not, what can you do on a continuous, sustainable basis to improve? And are you regularly seeking out frank feedback and courageous constructive criticism?

Mindful customer service

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How Mindfulness Is Changing Business from the Inside Out

mindful-work-david-gelles-mindfulness-at-work“Even Goldman Sachs is doing it…”

Highlights from Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From The Inside Out, by David Gelles.

A refreshingly simple definition of Mindfulness: “The ability to see what is going on in our heads, without getting carried away with it.”

…Mindfulness can sound deceptively easy. Practitioners sit in a comfortable position, close their eyes and simply notice the physical sensations in their body and the swirling thoughts in their brain. Using moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, the aim is to observe these sensations without reacting to them. By doing so, meditators gradually recognize the fleeting nature of sensations, including pain, anger and frustration. In time, this allows practitioners to quiet the mind. If it all works as intended, this results in individuals who are less agitated, more focused and easier to work with.. . .
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Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence the Google Way

google meditation mindfulness search inside yourself chade meng tanWhen we are fully present, we are more effective and can make better decisions, which allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, writes ((link)) Louise Padmore, who recently attended the Search Inside Yourself, a two-day program affiliated with Google.

Through mindfulness we can gain a greater awareness of ourselves and others, and learn how to direct this attention to become more perceptive of emotions, and therefore handle these feelings and our relationships with greater skill and compassion.

We learn from the past what to predict for the future and then live the future we expect, Louise notes.

Empathy is about seeing similarities and offering kindness… It is the ability to experience and understand what others feel. With this understanding we can navigate difficult conversations more skilfully, and also connect with others more compassionately.

Louise highlighted five insight-skills she learned on the course:

1- Looping Back: Instead of projecting our own views on others and quickly drawing conclusions about what we’ve just heard, use the technique of looping back to repeat and clarify what they mean. When you practice this, it’s incredible how much room for mis-interpreation there is, and how very often we can draw the incorrect conclusions and miss the point of what someone is trying to tell us.

2- Mindful Listening: Allowing ourselves to listen fully, and not say a word. This can be pretty uncomfortable and difficult to do. It’s a natural instinct to want to relate to what the person is saying, interjecting ‘me too’. By intentionally avoiding this instinct and simply listening, it is amazing how much more we can hear.
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Mindfulness: It’s Not Just For Trendy Tech Companies Anymore

Professional service firms are reporting encouraging results with Mindfulness at Work programs. Berger Singerman, a business law firm with approximately 85 attorneys and a total of 165 employees, has run one since 2013.
mindfulness_at_work_law_firmsParticipants report significant improvements in:

– focus on the task at hand
– active listening skills
– more accurate observation and data gathering skills

The program has increased “professionalism, collaboration and business performance,” says the firm’s co-chair, Paul Singerman. Moreover, the new skills have “enriched and improved our team members’ personal and family lives as well.”

“Mindfulness helps us interact more effectively with each other, our clients, our referral sources and our opposing counsel,” Singerman writes in a recent article. And when we hear and understand each other better, we work more effectively and less stressfully.

Singerman believes that “the smaller the business, the greater the impact, because each person’s role is that much more essential to executing the overall company mission.” Key in the program launch process is getting energetic support of senior management.

The Mindfulness program has taught Singerman to focus on three “buckets of data”:

#1. Myself.
I am better at my own “early detection system” for anger or fear by learning the feelings and sensations that anger or fear initiates within me, I can have a better chance of responding thoughtfully to the stimulus causing those feelings and avoid reacting to them in ways that are unhelpful or regrettable. I am better able to identify when I am off task and bring myself back to the present moment.

#2. Other people.
It has improved my listening skills and ability to gather data from my counter-ties in my communications and interactions with others. By staying present and in the moment, I can better gauge reactions of others to what I’m saying, really hear what others say, and observe important cues like body language and tone of voice.

# 3. The environment.
It has enhanced my ability to observe and gather data from the environment. That where I find myself, the dynamics of a case or deal, or even the industry that is the subject of a client matter or sales initiative. Striving to be a better gatherer of data has helped me be more aware of and sensitive to the perspectives of others.

Here’s a link to the full article on the Huffington Post.

Mindfulness at work, workplace mindfulness, law firms, mindfulness benefits, meditation practice, stress management, mindfulness to increase performance and productivity

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Of Horses, Humans and Authentic Leadership

A very insightful short essay about authenticity and the power of working with horses, by Ali Schultz at Reboot.io.

Authentic leadership; horses, empathy & attunement

Some highlights:

“…A lack of trust in a company feels awful. It’s stressful. No one is saying what needs to be said. There’s fear, anxiety, tension, and conflict. Meanwhile, the product is going nowhere…

“…When a horse trusts you, he looks to you for leadership… without trust, a horse-rider relationship lacks connection and is instead fraught with anxiety, fear, and conflict. When that happens, neither critter feels safe and will react defensively in an act of self preservation.

“…Horses are barometers for how authentic and real you are being in their presence. They have this incredible built-in bullshit meter and know when you’re posturing. If I was emotionally congruent when I was with them, they could trust me. In other words, if I was feeling sad on the inside and aware of that within myself, it showed in my exterior differently than if I was trying to hide it.
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