Post about "Politics and Government"

Politeness and the Bottom Line

* Actions in business include politeness
* Being polite means practicing intelligently
* Politeness requires seconds out of the dayVoice tone is a powerful nonverbal tool as well as the handshake. A handshake and poor eye-contact are powerful nonverbal tools that can get an interviewee rejected before the interviewee says “hello.” Verbally, not saying “thank you” is a silent killer that can affect the bottom line. Listening attentively and listening critically are two different things; people sometimes tend to listen critically when they hear an accent by a speaker whose first language is not English. Lastly, patience should be listed as number one in the job descriptions of all customer service representatives.Too often telephone voices especially those with poor manners cost a business plenty. A speaker on the phone, supposedly one in customer service, may either sound too enthusiastic or too tired. If the former sound, the voice on the other end blares in your ear drums; if the latter sound, the voice trails off and you wonder if the person with the tired voice is going to last another hour. Tone over the phone is as bad as the shrill sound of a voice or the one with a heavy accent. Tone can infer to a customer subconsciously the idea that indeed the customer is another number and nothing more.It is bad enough in business today that customers rarely speak to “humans” at all; worse when they must speak to impolite humans. Tones in voices are the nonverbals of verbal communication. Tone can suggest anger, sadness, frustration and on the opposite end, happiness, joy and energy. Sometimes people who work in customer relations do not fully understand the power of their tonal qualities. Sometimes businesses don’t understand how shrill or gruff voices affect the bottom line just over the telephone. Additionally, what is said is as important. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. A good handshake, another powerful nonverbal, conveys a multitude of messages, some not so good. Above all, however, is patience, a virtue that is noted by the public. Here are some questions and answer exercises businesses can practice:1. Do your employees talk down to an older person? People above age 60 don’t particularly like it when sales people in stores talk them with tenderness as if the senior is on his or her last leg. A sales person at a home building company once put his arm around an older woman to guide her toward the lighting department; the older woman stopped and told the sales person to remove his arm or he would be elbowed. Another one decided to take the arm of a man probably in his seventies and guide him toward the department he was looking for; the elderly man removed the sales person’s arm and told him in very blatant language to tell him and not show him the department or area of the store he was looking for.2. Do your employees make eye contact with a customer? Not making eye contact is one of the biggest mistakes people make when interviewing and/or helping people. People who work in government offices, such as departments of motor vehicles or social security or welfare deal with so many people on an hourly basis that they forget about the fact that they are dealing with humans. These workers are really not interested in the people they serve, which makes it ironic since it is the people they serve who ultimately pays them. These same workers will tell you that because they are treated rudely by the people who they serve, they get tired of trying to be nice. They become visually impaired to their customers. This in itself is funny because mistakes can be made often by people simply because they don’t make eye contact. One person came into the DMV to get a new license because she had accidentally thrown her other one in the trash compacter. The DMV clerk hardly looked at her. She found the person’s record online by using her name and social security number and issued her a new license. What she did not notice was that the person now had a black patch over one eye.3. Do your company employees say thank you enough or too much? One can say thank you too much. If a person in customer relations says, “Thank you for calling” once, that is enough. More than once and the customer feels patronized. Of course, not saying thank you at all is worse. It takes seconds to say “thank you.” We have grown so accustomed to hearing people say “Have a nice day,” that we infer it means “thank you.” Big mistake.4. Do your managers and supervisors or other workers know how to shake hands?Correctly shaking hands is probably the “loudest” nonverbal in our culture. Improper hand-shaking tells people that a) you are probably ill-educated; b) you may have dirty hands; c) you have not met many professionals in your life; and d) you have never taken the time learn to properly present yourself. When an applicant walked into an insurance office recently to be interviewed with the director of human resources and shook hands like the applicant was extending a dead fish, the director made up her mind not to hire the applicant before the applicant could sit down. Coincidentally, when a rather robust man walked into the same director’s office to be interviewed and extended a knuckle-breaking grasp on the woman’s hand, the director likewise instantly had decided not to hire this man.5. Do your managers know how to talk to someone with non-English accents?Most people don’t. People tend to talk louder or very slow to someone they recognize uses English as a second language. On the other side of it, people show no sympathy at all for a second language user (something we Americans are noted for) and could care less if the listener does not understand. What is the saying, “After all, one must speak American in America!” Until one travels to say, Paris, and attempts French to a Parisian and experiences sometimes that rudeness the French can be so good at, one cannot begin to understand how very badly a person can feel. When listening to such speakers, a level of listening called critical listening is required. Most of us experience day-to-day attentive listening only. Critical listening is one step higher and people must be taught to listen at this level. We are born usually to be able to hear but must be taught to listen. Employees should be taught this also.6. Do your customer service people exhibit patience when talking to people? Patience is indeed divine. The bottom line to any company is customer satisfaction. When bank customers sense impatience on the part of tellers most of the time, they will inevitably change banks. This is true of phone conversations. Because so many people are moving to online banking, computer glitches, computer knowledge deficiency and computer software incompatibility can all create impatience on the part of the customer, but the customer service representative for the bank must at all costs bite his or her lip. Trained to understand that tone in voice as well as choice of words can convey impatience may help both the bank and the employee.