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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » 2008 »

Archive for August, 2008

“Sorry Wrong Number”—– How To Get Rid Of An Annoying Caller

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Despite being registered on State and Federal “no call” registries, caller ID and a private telephone number, I still receive telephone solicitations. Ack!

I know that they are doing their job, and I always try to be rational and polite with them. However, when they refuse to “take the hint” that I am not interested, it’s time to go to Plan B.

How can you get them to stop talking or to finish the call?
It takes a little acting, a little game playing and a little smile.

Here’s how to get rid of them quickly:

  • Hang up: The longer that you converse, the harder it will be to extract yourself. Be assertive, say “thanks for calling, but I am not interested” and hang up.
  • Compete: Identify yourself as an executive with their top competitor (e.g. AT&T called me to switch to their services. I lied and stated that I was the VP of Verizon. The call ended instantly).
  • The Reverse Sale: Ask the caller if they think that it is a good idea to buy services or products from a “stranger” over the phone. When they reply yes, explain that you are a life insurance salesperson and that you would like to sell them a new policy. When they hesitate, point out that as they are not willing to trust a stranger, neither are you.
  • Personalize: Start a gossipy filled conversation. “So, how much do they pay you to make this call?” “I am so glad that someone called me today. I am having a really bad day. Can you cheer me up?” “Can I tell you about my upcoming surgery?”
  • The Questioner: Ask the caller every conceivable question that you can think of–”What does it cost?” “How is it made?” “Is there a guarantee?” “Can I buy more than one?”
  • The Silent Treatment: Pick up the phone, say hello and then just let them talk without responding.
  • The Monitor: Ask them if it is OK for you to tape the call. Phone sales reps hate this.

  • Today’s Tip: Telephone salespersons are people too. Treat them with respect and politeness. However, if they are not willing to stop when you say so, it’s time to be a little more aggressive. Turn the tables on them and watch how fast they run. Respect deserves respect, but abuse deserves your clever on-the-phone reaction.

    Sticks & Stones & My Performance Bonus: How To Take Criticism From Your Boss

    Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

    No one likes to be criticized at work…especially when we all think that we do (and know) our job better than anyone else.

    But what about when it’ s your Boss doing the complaining?

    Of course, your fantasy first instinct is to tell him to go to hell, comment on his paltry work ethic, his uncle the owner and then storm out of the room, smashing the door closed behind you. Yeah, right.

    So what should you do in real life?

    Here are some ideas:

  • Focus all of your attention on what they are saying.
  • Maintain complete and focused eye contact.
  • Do not interrupt. Let them finish their thoughts.
  • Take notes so you can appropriately respond and so that you will remember what they said later, once you have emerged from your emotional fog.
  • Do not attack them (verbally or physically).
  • Avoid all eye rolling, smirks, grimaces and overwhelming desires to spit or scream out “Bullsh__!”
  • Once they are done, exhale and calmly choose you response options (1- immediately reply; 2-acknowledge that you have heard what they said and that you would like a little time to digest their words; 3- give them the finger, resign and bolt). Option 3 is not a viable option for most of us.
  • If you are going to immediately reply, measure your words and speak in a neutral to sincere voice. Bosses are very sensitive to the tone of your response, so make it respectful and factual.
  • If you have the opportunity to leave and respond later, use your time wisely and expeditiously. Immediately go to another room and write down as much of what you heard as possible. Include your impressions and anything else that you couldn’t jot down while the Big Guy” was ranting.
  • The best responses are those that are: factual, precedential or that have memorialized support (“but I was directed to do this by___.”
  • Never blame the Boss. He doesn’t want to be reminded of his mistakes.
  • Never get emotional (anger, confrontation or crying just have no place in the professional business world).
  • Throw the criticizer off base by thanking them for their input.
  • Make allowance for the criticism and adjust what you need to. At the end of the day, they are the Boss, so do it their way, if they won’t adopt your approach.
  • Today’s Tip: It’s hard to believe that there are others that might not recognize or appreciate the perfection that is you…but it can happen. If the Boss calls you in and criticizes you: listen, focus, react intelligently and deliberately and maintain a professional composure. How you react to criticism may leave more of an impression on your Supervisor than your screw-up. Exhale, react and move-on…and try not to let the air out of his tires tonight.

    Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak: The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible

    Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

    None of us are supposed to “judge a book by its cover”…but we do.
    All the time.

    Most people understand the importance of doing good work, having a great attitude, being a team player and being punctual.
    However, many smart employees miss the opportunity to score even more points by managing their “observable peripherals”.

    So, go ahead. Ask away. Don’t be shy.

    What the heck is an observable peripheral?

    It’s all of the little and subtle cues that cause someone to form an impression about you.

    Here are some examples and suggestions that will make a significant difference in what others think about you:

  • You see that leaky 19 cent pen in your hand? Throw it out. Right now. Go buy a nice Waterman (or something similar), with weight, and use that from now on. A serious pen means you are a serious worker.
  • Taking notes in one of your daughter’s 4th grade Composition books is equally unimpressive. Dump it and go get a leather binder that allows you to use 8 1/2 X 11 or X 14 note pads. Jotting down today’s meeting assignments on the back of your Wendy’s receipt isn’t going to get anyone to take you seriously.
  • Upgrade that disgusting watch with the dried paint chips on it, to something elegant and attractive.
  • Stop wearing that Disney sweatshirt into the office. We see you wearing it as you come through the door and can only suppress the laughter some of the time.
    (If you dress like a joke, you will be treated like one).
  • Sorry to tell you this one…but that tie that your wife/daughter gave you with “Sponge Bob” on it is ridiculous. You are not a cartoon character (and your crabby pattys don’t taste so great either).
  • Your shoes always need to be shined and clean.
  • Your glasses cannot have any kind of tape holding them together.
  • Kiss that pocket protector goodbye.
  • Men, please put collar stays in your shirts and always button the top button if you are wearing a tie.
  • Ladies, regardless of our fantasies, please do not show us your bellybutton or wear any garment that has a phrase more appropriate for a strip club than an office (”Sexy,” “Man killer’,” “Good In Bed”). You get the idea.
  • Wearing your college ring beyond the age of 30 screams “loser” to the rest of us…even if it was an Ivy league school.
  • Get rid of that uni-brow.
  • Use perfume or cologne sparingly. If I can smell you on the Interstate, you may have put a tad too much on.
  • Never leave uneaten/open bags of food/candy on your desk.
  • Never wear the same outfit in the same week. If we see that blouse one more time, we are going to puke.
  • If you borrow money for the soda machine, pay it back the next morning. We will remember.
  • We are watching and observing you from the moment you park to the moment you leave (and yes, we did note that you took more than an hour for lunch).
  • Assume that we are all looking into your car when we walk by it (we loved spying that DVD of “Teenage Love Vixens” in the backseat, right next to the empty Coors 24 pack and 1500 of your scattered business receipts).
  • Use your “indoor voice” when taking a call on your cell phone.
  • Never be the last one to walk into a meeting or the first one to leave.
  • Today’s Tip: Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us.
    We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak.