Effective Communication Skills You Need At Work.

Communicate Effectively At Your Workplace.

Communication has the power to either break or make an organization. This, therefore, makes effective communication skills very important in any workplace. Successful communication does not just focus on the words one uses, but also the emotions, body language, facial expression and gestures they use as well as the purpose of the information communicated.

Effective communication does not only allow us to make relationships with other people but also helps us maintain those relationships. How you handle your relationships through communication is what essentially determines whether you will be successful in your workplace or not.

Now that you know the power effective communication has, what are the barriers of effective communication you need to beware of?

 

  • Emotions; although it is important for you to express your emotions when communicating, you should be careful not to let your emotions overwhelm you or affect how you understand what someone else is saying. Choosing to calm down and become level-headed before saying anything or listening to someone helps you control your emotions better.
  • Stress or Fatigue; when people are stressed or fatigued, they tend not to be attentive. Trying to communicate with them during that time is not advisable. Should you want to talk to someone or someone want to talk to you about something important, ensure you or the other party is not stressed.
  • Lack of interest; when people are not interested in a certain subject, they will not pay much attention to whatever is said about it. Before you go ahead and communicate information, find out whether your audience is actually interested in it or not.
  • Language; the use of jargons, a different language or extremely complicated English can hinder someone from understanding what is being communicated to them. It is important for you to know what language to use when trying to communicate to someone else.
  • Body language; communication also entails the use of body language. Whenever someone’s body language seems to be different from what they are saying, chances are high that they are not being genuine. This also causes confusion to the other party communicating to them as they are not sure whether to believe what the person is saying or what they are expressing.

 

So what are the important communication skills you need to communicate effectively at your workplace?

Listening Attentively:

Communication is not just being able to convey your message clearly but also listening what some else has to say. While someone is talking to you, you have to listen actively and pay close attention to them. Listening actively means, clearing your mind from everything else you could be thinking of and focusing on what someone is saying.

Listening to what someone else has to say enables you to give them appropriate feedback and understand them better. Talking while someone else is talking is considered to be rude and disrespectful. Always wait for another person to finish talking and then talk. Should you not understand what they have said, asking questions to further understand them is advisable.

Be Empathetic:

Although you may have different values, opinion or thoughts from those around you, it is important to understand why those around you think or do things the way the do. Looking at things from other people’s perspective and not from your point of view enables you to understand them better when they communicate to you.

Be Enthusiastic:

People are more likely to open up and communicate with you if you are actually enthusiastic about what they have to say. Showing your interest by listening attentively makes one feel respected and trust you enough, to be honest with what they have to say.

Pay attention to body language:

When communicating with someone, be sure to pay attention to their body language and posture. These give you more information about whether they are interested in what you have to say and what they really mean.

Furthermore, adopting the body language and posture you use to that of the person you are communicating with enables them to feel a deeper connection with you and, therefore, share much more information with you.

Keep Eye Contact:

When you keep eye contact with the person you are communicating with, it shows them that you are interested in what they have to say, are confident and can be trusted. They will, therefore, in turn, be able to relate with you better and give you more genuine answers.

Ask Questions; Do not assume:

One of the reasons why people fail to communicate well with each other is because they do not actually understand what has been said. Many times people tend to make assumptions based on the little information they have or based on what they see. It is important to approach someone and ask for clarity or more information before reaching a certain conclusion.

Be Honest:

Honesty is very important when it comes to communication. Should you be dishonest in your communication, the truth is bound to come out and this will affect how everyone else will communicate with you. People do not want to and are less open when communicating with someone they think could be dishonest.

Be Patient:

Patience is very important in the communication process. You have to be very patient when speaking to another person. You have to be patient when another person is talking and wait for them to finish; you have to be patient enough to listen to the other person as well as patient to get the right information from someone  before making a decision.

Patience further helps you avoid misunderstanding what someone else could have said.

 

Like any other set of skills, communication skills too need be practiced and improved on for them to be mastered. You can further develop your communication skills.

  • Enroll in training programs or communication skills courses.
  • Keep a record of how you communicate and how you can better improve.
  • Practice the new communication skills you could have gained with other people.

Every relationship be at work or outside work begins with and is maintained by communication. Get this area right and there is no doubt you will succeed in most of your endeavors.

 

Effectively Dealing With Stress At Work.

How To Handle Stress Appropriately At Work.

With high demands and targets to meet, stress is one of those constant conditions that cannot be avoided in any workplace. Although this condition could be considered normal and often drives people to meet their targets at work, excessive stress can be detrimental both to one’s health and the organization. Knowing when this stress has exceeded its comfort zone and how to handle it is very important and can go a long way in determining what this condition turns one into.

So what are some of the signs and symptoms showing that you could be experiencing extreme stress:

  • Always feeling anxious and irritable.
  • Loss of interest in your work.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Fatigue.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Muscle pains and severe headache.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Resorting to junk food, alcohol or drugs to cope.

With such extreme stress, one’s productivity and health can be affected. For example, they could be more prone to heart complications, high blood pressure, a weak immune system to mention but a few. Furthermore, the organization too suffers as a result of stressed workers and is prone to more production errors, fall in profits, loss of customers to mention but a few. With such detrimental effects, individuals have to take action and find out how they can manage stress better. Here’s what we recommend.

        1. Find out what stresses you:

The most effective way to solve a problem is to deal with its cause. Knowing what exactly brings about your stress gives you the necessary information you need to take action against it or better your situation.

Keeping a work journal where you record the events of your day, what stressed you and how you reacted to it can help you backtrack and find out the root causes of your condition, and further help you assess your response to stressing situations and whether you need to find better responses.

Some of the major causes of stress at work include:

  • Excess workload.
  • Lack of planning and organization.
  • Redundancy at work.
  • Monotonous and unchallenging work tasks.
  • Conflicts with work colleagues.
  • Unclear direction and performance expectations.

Finding out the cause of your stress is the first and most important step to dealing with it all together.

  1.  Find healthy responses for what stresses you.

Having identified what exactly stresses you, the next step is to figure out realistic and healthy responses to your stressors. People have different ways that they handle stress that could be either healthy or unhealthy. In as much as some unhealthy responses to stressors could be effective, they are often short-lived and produce even more detrimental effects. Knowing the difference between what productive responses to stressors are and what they are not can also help you deal with stress much more effectively.

 

Healthy Responses Unhealthy Responses
  • Exercise to help you relax.
  • Taking walks.
  • Taking breaks in between work tasks or from the stressful situation.
  • Meditation.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Organizing your work.
  • Indulging in a healthy hobby.
  • Eating healthy meals.
  • Drinking excessive alcohol.
  • Resorting to drugs.
  • Smoking.
  • Eating too much junk food or food with too much sugar.

 

With healthy responses, you can be sure that you will be successful in reducing stress and remain healthy.

  1.  Plan and Prioritise you work:

In many cases, stress at a workplace is as a result of the work tasks one has to perform. Sometimes, it may not actually be because one has an excessive workload but because they actually do not know how to manage the workload they have effectively.

Managing your workload begins with planning how to do it and sticking to that plan. Without a plan in place, one is likely to take longer than they should on the piece of work, multitasking that would lead to mediocre work and fail to anticipate any unforeseen circumstances that could make the whole task fail.

Being able to plan and spread one’s work over time enables one to actually perform the tasks according to the organization’s expectations. This also reduces exposure to stress that comes with trying to do too many tasks at a go and in so little time that could have resulted in average or below average work.

  1.  Put in place boundaries:

By not having boundaries one makes themselves prone to stress.

Having boundaries for oneself as well as others is very important. For example, one should always have a time limit of when they should keep doing work. They have to think of other aspects of their life such as their family and personal time.

Furthermore, one should have a limit on how much work they accept to take on from other people. Always being the “Yes man” who is always willing to take on more tasks even when it is detrimental to your health puts you in a dangerous situation. Having boundaries on how your co-workers should relate with you also helps avoid instances of conflict such as conflicts that could result in stress.

It always important to have productive work boundaries and stick to them because it helps one to further go ahead and actually avoid situations that could stress them altogether.

  1. Maintain healthy and positive work relationships:

Dealing with different people from diverse backgrounds can be very tasking and stressful. However, if you learn the art of understanding and dealing with these different people, you are able to reduce any stressors that could result as a result of poor work relationships.

One should always aim at avoiding conflict at the workplace and creating friendly and positive relationships with their workmates. Should one have a misunderstanding with one of their workmates, they should seek to solve the difference as soon as possible.

  1. Have time for yourself:

Although the work we do pays our bills, one should never forget they too need time for themselves. Being able to take off breaks in between work or choosing to rest is very helpful. It is not practical and does not make sense for one to keep working as they will not produce the best results.

Taking time off to relax and rest replenishes one’s mind, reduces stress, makes one alert and further enables them to perform better.

  1.  Talk to you Colleagues and Supervisor about the situation:

Should you fail to cope with stress on your own, it is helpful to seek for social support from those that you work with. Perhaps they contribute to your stressors; letting them know your situation and how it could be detrimental to both you and them can motivate them to help you handle the situation better.

Your colleagues and supervisors could even suggest other healthy measures you could take to deal with the situation.

Do not choose to handle the situation on your own should it get worse. Seek help from others because it could affect them as well.

  1.  Seek medical help:

In worst case scenarios, stress can be so negative that one has to seek medical help.

Should you feel that nothing is helping improve the situation, do not be ashamed of visiting a psychiatrist or medical counselor for help.

Waiting for the condition to get worse could just lead to both the loss of your job and life. Treat the condition before it is too late.

Excessive stress is a condition that is not immune to anyone. It can affect anyone in any workplace and is a condition that should be given much attention as it not only affects the person but all those around them and the organization at large. Be sure to take the right steps in handling it because it is a long-term condition that could affect you for the rest of your life.

 

Conflict Resolution: How To Resolve Workplace Conflicts.

What Causes Workplace Conflict and How To Handle it.

Workplace conflict can be defined as a disagreement in opinions, interests or ideas between colleagues at work. Different people from diverse backgrounds in the workplace is a recipe for conflict. In fact, one can say conflict can really not be avoided. How one handles it can either break or make their work relationships which in turn affects their productivity.

The first step in handling workplace conflicts the right way is knowing what causes them in the first place. With this knowledge, one is placed in a better position to avoid conflict. Here are the most common sources of workplace conflict.  

  • Communication problems: most of the conflicts that arise are as a result of poor or lack of communication. Without right communication channels, people often misunderstand each other’s actions.
  • Difference in personality: different people have different types of personality and therefore react to situations differently. Being able to acknowledge this helps one to understand why people react the way they do and how you can handle them better.
  • Difference in interests: many times, people have different interests and needs that they wish to fulfill. When their interests are not in line with others or those of the organization, conflicts are bound to happen.
  • Difference in values and beliefs: people’s values and beliefs often guide how they live their lives and perform their work. Not being able to understand that people have values and therefore often follow them in their day to day lives can lead to conflicts at work.
  • Poor performance: poor performance could arise because certain team members are not doing their work effectively or an employee is simply slacking on their job. No matter the cause, this situation is very frustrating and will often lead to conflict.
  • Workplace gossip: gossip that often taints other colleagues’ images eventually leads to conflict as those that are subject to it may in most cases attack the source of the gossip or those that have taken part in it.
  • Poor working conditions: such conditions such as poor pay, lack of safety gear, long working hours to mention but a few often makes employees stressed. The more employees are stressed, they are bound to not only attack each other but their employer as well.

When caught up in workplace conflict, different people have different ways of handling the situation such as:

  • Avoidance: some people simply avoid the conflict. For example, one could simply walk away after their colleague talks to them rudely. This is often not advisable as it is best to solve the conflict once and for all. Avoiding the conflict will not make it go away.  
  • Collaboration: this is when two conflicting parties come together to collaborate and come up with a solution that is mutually beneficial to the both of them.
  • Compromise: this is more of a win-lose situation. Two conflicting parties choose to take on a decision that may not necessarily meet all their needs but eventually helps them remain peaceful.
  • Competition: here, the conflicting parties choose to compete and the one who wins gets to decide the decision that should be taken. This, in many cases brings about, even more, conflict and leaves the loser more resentful.
  • Accommodation: even when someone may not necessarily agree with another’s decision, them choosing to let go of their own personal needs or decisions in order to take on another’s for the sake of peace is being accommodative.

Regardless of the ways one chooses to resolve conflict, having a step by step process to follow makes handling this tricky work situation faster and easier. Here’s how we suggest you should go about handling workplace conflict.

Step 1; Arrange to meet in person:

Avoiding the person you are having a conflict with only stalls the conflict and puts both of you in an uncomfortable position. The best thing to do would be to arrange a meeting with them in a neutral place where you can be able to express your feelings to each other and work towards resolving the conflict. In requesting for the meeting you could politely approach the other party in person or if it is your superior send an email requesting for a meeting.

Step 2; Identify the cause of the conflict:

There is no way one can effectively solve what they do not know the cause of. This is the beginning step in  moving towards an agreement. When you meet, together try to establish what the source of the conflict really was. This will help both of you to tackle the main issue so that it does not arise again in the future.

Step 3;Listen and seek to understand:

Use the face to face meeting to try and understand each other’s points of view. Do not use it as another altercation opportunity. Do not try to be defensive but simply learn to listen and understand the other party’s point of view and where you could have gone wrong. If you happen to discover that you offended the other person at this stage, simply apologize.

Step 4; Seek to reach a consensus:

After listening to each other’s side of the story. Seek to find out the areas you agree with and the areas you do not. This helps both of you to know what areas you can use to come up with a mutually beneficial conclusion or way forward for the both of you.

Step 5; Prioritize the areas you are conflicting about:

Should you find out that the areas of conflict are many, both of you should rank the areas in order of urgency or importance. This will give you both a clearer way on what needs to be dealt with first.

Step 6; Find a solution:

Having all the necessary information you need about the conflict, both of you should then go ahead and find a solution for the area of conflict. If you are conflicting in more than one area, address the most important area first moving towards the least important areas.

In developing solutions, focus on creating solutions that will lead to lasting good relationship in the future.

Should the solutions be long-term? Be sure to organize for more meetings to follow up the progress of your relationship.

Step 7; Ensure you follow the planned solutions without fail:

Should you really want to solve the conflict, the important step of following through with what you and the other party agreed to is a very determining step in whether the conflict keeps going on or comes to an end.

If both parties, stick to what was discussed chances are high that they will not conflict in that area of conflict again. However, if one or both of the parties do not put effort in implementing the solutions discussed, they will keep conflicting about the very same issues.

Step 8; Complement the success:

If you are successful or the other party is successful and is properly following through with the plan made to resolve the conflict, do remember to complement each other. This will motivate the both of you to keep a friendly relationship and avoid conflict.

Step 9; Keep a better and friendly relationship:

Conflicting with someone does not necessarily mean you cannot be friends with them. It is important not take conflicts personally  but to look at them as simply difference in opinions or ideas. Seek to create a better relationship with those people that you have conflicted with.

Step 10; When you fail to resolve the conflict:

Should you and the conflicting part fail to resolve the conflict on your own, seeking a third party such as a mediator can help.

Conflict is very difficult to avoid in any workplace. Should you find yourself conflicting with one of your colleagues, ensuring the conflict is resolved as soon as possible is the best thing for you to do. Always aim to have good work relationships because they, in turn, affect how comfortable and productive you will be at your workplace.

 

Labor Exploitation: Could you be a Victim of Modern Slavery?

Are You Being Exploited At Your Workplace?

Recently, Medical interns all over Uganda joined hands to protest against a new government policy proposing that private students would not be provided any allowances during their internship placements.  The students that equated themselves to “slaves” and the conditions they had to work in extremely, “poor”, stressed that the policy was utterly unfair. As much as slavery is something often associated with the past, anyone can become a victim of this infamous ancient trade in their workplace today and this could not just be in the case of an intern that is often looked at as some sort of cheap labor but a permanent worker as well.

Despite the fact that we all need to survive and, therefore, have to work hard to earn a living, one should never be subjected to being a slave at their workplace. Working hard and being a slave to a system that doesn’t appreciate your hard work are two completely different things. It is important to know when you are fulfilling your duty and when you are being exploited. Here’s how to know you are being exploited at your workplace:

     1.Are you being fairly paid?

The most common type of exploitation at work is one not being paid or being underpaid for their labor. Although most people desire to be employed and would not mind having any job as long as it pays the bills, one needs to know their worth and demand to be paid fairly. If one is paid very low compared to the experience, qualifications they have and job tasks they have to  perform, this is exploitation. 2. 

     2.Are you Overwhelmed?

Being busy and a bit stressed is something normal in many work settings. However, sometimes the situation is just a bit too much; for example, your employer demanding quite too much in a short period of time that you find yourself stretched to the limit is not always a good thing. Every employer has the duty of ensuring their employees are allocated with a workload that they can handle. No matter how much one is being paid, their workload should be manageable. Working for long hours without any breaks or periods to rest is very overwhelming for anyone.

    3.Are you performing other people’s duties?

In many cases, fellow workmates have a tendency to bully each other and this sometimes includes passing on their duties and responsibilities. Taking on other people’s duties without a good reason such as them being on leave or are sick is considered exploitation. Should you take on another duty, ensure there is some sort of compensation or viable explanation as to why you have to take it on and not to give someone else free time.

     4.Are you working over time?

Working over time is one of those situations at any workplace that cannot really be avoided. However, if your employer constantly expects you to work over time and they are not providing any sort of compensation for it, they are really exploiting you as you have a right to have your personal time as well to rest and pursue other endeavors of your own.

    5.Are you carrying out duties that are unrelated to the organization?

If an employer or workmate often expects you to run errands such as pick up their children or pick up their laundry which is completely unrelated to your job or the progress of the organization, chances are high that you are being exploited. They have no right to demand that you perform their personal errands or duties outside your contract.

     6.Are you underappreciated?

Many times this may not be considered as some sort of exploitation but it actually is. Even when someone is paid fairly, they will always remain unhappy and stressed at their workplace if their work is constantly unappreciated. Every worker wishes to feel valued at their workplace and if they are not or they spend all day not actually doing any work it denies them the opportunity of gaining the experience they need to progress in their career. This makes anyone depressed and reduces their productivity.

     7.Do you take credit for your work?

If you are caught up in a situation where you are the one always doing the hard work but never credited for it, or recognized for it but someone else is, chances are high you are being exploited. One’s ideas and contribution to the success of the company always have to go noticed and recommended in order to keep motivating them.

    8.Are you asked to take on unreasonable demands?

Unreasonable or unrealistic demands could be one’s supervisor demanding for sex in order for one to be promoted or an employer demanding one to complete a certain piece of workload in a short time or simply to perform work that one cannot realistically perform. Such demands cause a lot of stress to the victim and often hinder their work performance or productivity.

     9.Are you an Intern or simply Cheap labor?

In many cases, interns or people holding volunteer positions are the victims of work exploitation. Such people are often considered to be cheap labor and are given all sorts of tasks without any compensation. As an intern or voluntary worker, one is simply meant to learn, shadow another’s job and gain experience from working with their mentor or supervisor. It is different from one’s mentor or supervisor leaving all their workload to them and demanding they perform their job duties. Interns and voluntary workers need to know what exactly their role is in the workplace in order not to fall victim to being exploited and that making them cheap labor is illegal.

Now that one is aware of the various ways they can be exploited at work, how then do they deal with the situation should they realize they are a victim of this kind of modern slavery?

    1.Find out why you are the subject of work exploitation:

why

Dealing with exploitation begins by knowing exactly why some people are more susceptible to being a victim than another and what exactly could be the root cause of the habit. Here are some theories to explain this:

  • Younger workers are more likely to be exploited than older workers as they are viewed not to have enough experience and can be easily convinced to perform a certain duty.
  • Ignorant workers that are not informed and do not seek to find out what their exact scope of work can also fall victim to exploitation.
  • If one always sympathizes with other people too much and is always willing to help, chances are high that some people can take advantage of that person. One needs to know their limit.
  • If one is too ambitious and tends to present themselves as one that can do anything as long as it helps them grow in their career, other people may tend to take advantage of that.
  • Some people can also use the leverage of having good relationships with someone to exploit them for example if one’s relative, spouse or good friend can exploit them and they will not notice as they look at in terms of doing favors for those close to them.
  • One who likes to do work on their own and feels the need to always make a significant contribution can also be victim to exploitation.
  • People in higher or influential positions like the rich or elderly are also likely to be a target of exploitation as others would want to create relationships with them that are simply to their advantage.

     2.What danger does this exploitation cause to you and the other person involved:

 

After figuring out why and who exactly is exploiting you, it is important to know at what point the exploitation is and how much danger it is causing you. Being aware of this enables you to know exactly how to deal with the situation.  

For example, if the form of exploitation has been going on for a short time and is not as serious, one can consider resolving the issue between them and the other party amicably without involving management.

However, if the form of exploitation is a very serious case or the other party seems not to stop the habit, one could consider letting their Human Resource manager, a legal advisor or labor union about the situation.

 

     3.Set boundaries:

otherside

Knowing the information mentioned above helps one to know exactly what labor exploitation entails. With this information, one, is, therefore, able to know where they need to set boundaries and what those boundaries should be to avoid being a victim in the future. It always important for one to command respect at their workplace and set their boundaries and expectations meant to protect them at the workplace.

     4.Ensure you are not trapped in the cycle:

trapped

Very many times employees are taken advantage of because they remain trapped in the exploitation cycle and do not seek to break away from it. Some employers usually exploit the reality that employees often choose to remain with their jobs because they feel they cannot go anywhere to take advantage of them.

In order to break through the cycle one can:

  • Look at the situation objectively and whether you are being continually manipulated.
  • Step away from the situation to further look at it more objectively before going ahead and concluding whether someone else has been taking advantage of you or not.
  • One should not blame themselves for being a victim of the exploitation.
  • Think about other possible options or jobs they can for apart from the one they may have.

     5.Conduct a stealth job search:

Job serach

Should one try all they can to resolve the issue but keep being exploited or their organization ignores their requests, it might be time to begin looking elsewhere

Although this may be difficult to do basing on the scarcity of jobs, one should remember that their wellbeing and health are the most important. If one is constantly subjected to poor working conditions at their workplace that put them in danger, emotional or physical distress, leaving the job in question is far much better.

Various Ugandan labor laws are clearly against any form of exploitation at the workplace and also go ahead and protect workers being taken advantage of. Should you happen to be a victim of this source of modern slavery, do not keep quiet! Seek help.

 

How to effectively deal with challenging clients

Challenging clients; who are they and how to deal with them

In every business, dealing with challenging clients can pose a serious problem if not carefully handled. In the course of doing business, you are bound to face clients with different personalities. Some of them will include difficult clients who can have a positive or negative impact on the brand you are working for; depending on how they are managed.

The issues we seek to address in this article are; how exactly employees that are in regular contact with clients can protect themselves; how they can deal with challenging clients as well as how to take action if they have been attacked by the clients they serve. In the business world, where customers are considered “King”, employees as well as the organisations they work for  often remain silent when the customers they serve mistreat them.

Although clients are in most cases the core of the business, employers need to realise that those that serve them are equally key. Furthermore, employees themselves  have to draw a line between doing their job to the best of their ability, and being disrespected. They need to realise that they ought to be respected.

The first step to pro is understanding a challenging client and how to deal with them. Here are some of those clients you need to be aware of and how to exactly handle them:

The Rude or Aggressive  Client:

Quite often, employees encounter this very common type of challenging client.  This kind of client speaks very rudely and seems to despise the people making an effort to serve them. Should you make a mistake on their order or fail to answer their demands correctly, they will quickly shout at you or talk to you in a very offensive way.

How To handle A Rude Client:

In such a case, it is very important to remain calm when you are being insulted. Choosing to return insult or use your emotions to manipulate the client simply makes the situation worse. It is always important to let the client finish complaining regardless of who appears to be wrong or right.

After they have finished complaining and have calmed down, you should then show them that you understand their viewpoint, apologise to them and focus on providing a solution to the issues raised.

The Impatient Client:

This type of client wants the best service but will not be patient enough to wait for it. This client is always in a hurry and thinks he should always be prioritised. An example could be when everyone else is in a queue, he seeks preferential treatment by refusing to join the line.

How To handle An Impatient Client:

Although it is key to serve clients promptly, it is important for every employee to know their limits and stand their ground. If the “first come, first served” basis is being followed, an employee has to stick to that and ensure all clients are treated equally and fairly without any bias. Calmly and politely communicating this to such a client can also help them become more aware of everyone else.

Another solution could be referring the client to another colleague that may not be as occupied to attend to them in a timely manner.

You can also ensure you manage the client’s expectations by telling them from the onset how long a project will take and then follow up with regular progress reports.

The Hands-On Client:

It is okay for a client to try to help you serve them better. However, when the client tries to take complete charge of the task he/she is paying for to the point where you are made to appear incompetent, it might be time to draw the line.

How To handle A Hands-On Client:

Listening attentively to these clients’ demands and ensuring they are met can go a long in helping an employee serve them satisfactorily. Such clients will often follow up on every little detail of the project you are working on and demands that deadlines be met. Giving them the necessary feedback they need and meeting their demands on time presents you as someone they can then depend on to perform their duty and therefore not need to micro-manage.

The Demanding Client:

Demanding clients are those clients that make unreasonable demands that are usually not part of their contract with you. They might often demand  additional services or attention that they have not paid for.  

How To Handle A Demanding Client:

The key in handling this client is communication. Be sure to politely communicate to them what you are able to do and not to do. If their demands are too unrealistic and place you in an uncomfortable position or are out of your contract, it is best to stand your ground and decline to perform those extra tasks clearly explaining the reasons why.

The Suspicious Client:

This type of client will often question your capacity. They will often seem to always look for fault in every suggestion you could have and reject most of your logical arguments.

How To Handle A Suspicious Client:

The best way to handle such a client is to avoid being pushy as they have a tendency to disregard any explanation you tender in defence. Always remember to back your arguments with viable reasons. Seek to also listen to the client and ask as many questions as you can in order to find out exactly what they want. When you know what the client wants, it is then easier for both of you to find a middle ground.

The Timid Client:

As easy as these clients may appear to be because they are usually not outspoken, they can pose a problem when they fail to express what their expectations are. Such clients often come off as shy and not clear of what exactly they want. Even when they may find your service to them poor, they may not express it but will simply not come back to you. Knowing what they want is the one important step to retaining them.

How To Handle A Timid Client:

In handling this client, patience and being able to create more personal relationships with them is very key. You need to give them time to be able to speak, ask questions where they do not understand and listen to them carefully. Observing body language from them as well can be helpful.

The Friendly Client:

Almost every employee would wish  to encounter the friendly client, due to their accommodating and amiable nature. However, when it is to the extreme it could come at the cost of your job. For example having a client that is too chatty can be very distractive and wastes productive hours that could be used to serve other clients as well.

How To Handle an Overly Friendly Client:

To handle this client, you will have to maintain a nice and polite interaction, occasionally contributing to their conversation. You, however, have to make sure they take control of the conversation by using short answers as well as keeping some professional distance from the client. Should the conversation take too long, you can politely let the client know that perhaps they have to serve other clients as well.

The Smart Client:

This type of client seemingly knows everything and will often criticise everything you suggest. These types of clients think they are superior to you and therefore know a lot more that you do.

How To Handle A Smart Client:

Seek to understand this client and remain positive and calm. Avoid becoming aggressive to them and always show them that you are empathetic and understand their concerns. Follow through with their suggestions and politely advise, with viable reasons, if you think they are going wrong. Should you make a mistake, letting this client know in time and in a calm manner is key in maintaining the relationship.

The Complaining Client:

A client can complain about a service or product with viable reasons and that is okay. However, when a client complains about everything no matter how much you try to improve the service is, can be very frustrating to any employee.

How To Handle A Complaining Client:

The best way to deal with this client is to always apologise for whatever they complain about. Do not try to get defensive as they will often not listen. Listen to their demands and try as much as you can to meet them. If they still continue to complain, then refer them to a superior person. Sometimes such clients yearn for special treatment and referring them to your manager or supervisor could just be what they need to calm down.

 

How to Effectively Communicate with these different Challenging Clients:

Even with the knowledge of they type of client you are dealing with and the recommended ways to handle them, the key to being successful when handling them is, communication. Here are some general effective communication tips that could guide you:

  • Seek to understand the client, their paint pain points and point of view.
  • Be flexible in the way you communicate. Try to adapt your communication style to the one the client is using.
  • Listen to what they have to say. Even when they may seem rude, allow them to vent their emotions and reply calmly after they finish.
  • Be direct in your communication clearly stating why the client cannot receive the service they want to at that time. Being direct also entails letting the client know when they have crossed the line.
  • Be polite; even when you may be displeased with what a client is doing and you have to let them know directly, remember to be polite  and respectful.
  • Do not jump to conclusions about what a client says. Seek to understand what exactly they mean and why they have expressed themselves that way.
  • Do not be too emotional; keep your emotions in check when dealing with a difficult client. Try not to speak to them rudely or lose control of yourself.

 

Here is a step by step process that offers further guidance on effective communication with whatever type of challenging client you may encounter:

Step 1. Change your mindset:

The moment you realise that your client is complaining or angry about a service, change your mindset into a customer service mindset whether or not you hold a customer service role. Put yourself in the client’s shoes, seek to understand them and to solve their grievances.

Step 2. Listen attentively:

Understanding the client’s position allows you to actively listen to their grievances. Even when the client may not actively or clearly voice out their opinions, probe them with questions that will motivate them to give you as much information as they can about what they may not be pleased about. This gives you the information you need to help solve the situation or know how to best handle them.

Step 3. Repeat their grievances:

After the client has voiced their grievances, go ahead and repeat them just to be sure that those are the exact issues you have to deal with. Should you not be sure, go ahead and ask them more questions to understand their issues.

Repeating the client’s grievances further gives them the impression that you care and are concerned about them. This makes it easier for you to relate to them and build a better relationship with them.

Step 4. Apologize:

Now that you know what could have upset the client, go ahead and show them that you truly understand why they are upset and apologize.

Step 5. Suggest a solution:

By this time, the client will be more ready to listen to what you have to say since they have had the time to voice out their grievances. At this point is when you go ahead and suggest a solution that could help them.

Should the client reject the solution, ask them what they think would solve their issue and work towards that.

Step 6. Implement the solution and follow up:

Go ahead and ensure the solution agreed to is implemented and follow up whether the client is happier or there is anything more that can be done to make them happier.

Step 7. Learn from every situation:

Always remember to pick a lesson from every situation you encounter. This helps you to understand how to handle similar challenging clients as well as how to avoid similar situations.

 

When the Situation is Beyond Recovery;

Employees are often expected by their employers to efficiently serve all  the various types of clients  they are faced with. However, if an employee has done all they can as far as dealing with a challenging client,  terminating their relationship with them could be the most logical and beneficial thing to do both for their job as well as a company. So when should this be the solution?

 

  • When the client takes more productive time than their worth or than they actually pay for.
  • When the client makes extreme demands that are beyond your contract.
  • Your relationship and communication with the client is not improving no matter how much you try.
  • The client does not pay for your services and seems to take you for granted.
  • They do not respect you and are physically or emotionally abusive.
  • The client keeps changing their mind and does not seem to arrive at a final decision.
  • The client blames you when things go wrong even after you provided sound advice.

When you have been violated by a client:

Many employees do not know what to do or how to go about things when a client physically or verbally violates them. Although employers have a right to protect their employees’ rights, many times employees themselves have to be proactive. Supposing you happen to be caught up in such a situation, here’s how labour laws generally suggest you go about the issue:

  • Report the issue to your supervisor or manager or Human Resource personnel.
  • Using the Human Resource Manual, the issue should be able to be resolved and if at all your rights were indeed violated, you should demand compensation.
  • Should the organisation you are working for fail to fairly represent your case, seeking help from a Worker’s or Trade Union should be the next step.
  • Where the issue is still not solved amicably, it can then be taken to the courts of law. Various labour laws provide for workers’ protection as well as compensation each time workers are violated. Employees need to further understand these laws and be aware that they have a right to be treated respectfully.

No matter how much money you are paid or how desperate you are for a job, you should always remember that you are a human being that ought to be respected. Knowing how to handle challenging clients as well as knowing when they have gone overboard helps you to exercise your right to protect yourself. Do not be a victim of unfair treatment from clients at work; if you are, it is well within your right to seek help.

 

 

 

 

 

Office Gossip: Handling this Tricky Work Situation.

How To Handle Office Gossip. 

Office gossip is one of those situations at any workplace that cannot be avoided and may have some positive effects. However, this situation can sometimes come with many detrimental effects. While it may sometimes, be a source of entertainment and way to spice up the very monotonous work life, it can affect those that choose to regularly take part in it or are subject to it negatively.

Gossip is quite hard to avoid in any work situation and many would say it is part of human beings’ communication cycle. In the words of  Julie Jansen, career coach and author of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This, “It’s part of the fabric of our communication…It’s absolutely impossible not to gossip, just keep it to a minimum.”

Before delving into this issue, what really is office gossip anyway?

The way we would define office gossip is often a casual conversation between two or more people at the workplace that could be about other people (famous or work colleagues); personal details of other people’s lives; behavior or change in the organization. In many cases, the information usually shared in this type of conversation is often not really factual, seeks to harm the reputation of another person and is often unkind. However, one should note that not all gossip is bad or seeks to harm other people’s reputation.

Much as office gossip has largely been considered to be something very negative, it has some advantages of its own and if kept to the minimal in smart ways it can actually help one flourish in any workplace. Some of the rare advantages include:

  • It’s ability to build relationships between co-workers if they stick to the right and not too damaging topics.
  • It can be very informative. Be it about current affairs or about other people’s personalities that could give one the basis they need to know how to relate with these different people.

The fact that gossip can sometimes be good and bad is exactly what makes the office gossip situation a bit tricky in any workplace. So how does one really handle this situation and use it to their advantage much as it could affect one’s performance and career growth negatively?

Here are some pointers to help you:

1.How to react when you are the center of the gossip: supposing you are caught up in a situation where you find out some very unpleasant and wrong gossip is going around about you. How do you handle this situation?

First and foremost it is important to know what exact information is going around. After

this step, one should then go ahead and find the source of the gossip. This enables one to

handle the situation right from its route.

Having discovered the source of the news, one has to then go ahead and confront this person. It is important for one to remain objective and in control of their emotions so that they do not have to react aggressively which could cause another situation. It is important not to take this gossip way too personal or defensively. Seek to solve the underlying causes of the gossip in an objective way.

When one confronts the source of the gossip, they should seek to express their negative feelings  by using, “I” statements and go ahead to try and actually create a more positive relationship with the other party after airing out any grievances and reaching a consensus.

Should one fail to resolve the situation on their own or simply fail to find the source of the gossip, they should then go ahead and seek the help of their supervisor or Human Resource personnel.

2. Keep certain aspects of your personal life personal: much as it is important to share some parts of your personal life with your workmates for example whether you are married or not or have children, not all of your personal life should be out there in the open. As long as there exists information about you that someone could use against you, it is wise not to share it at all.

3.Think about how it could affect another person: many times you are bound to be in a situation where one of your colleagues wishes to share some juicy news with you. Taking part in it and further fueling the gossip can be very tempting but before you do so, always think about how the gossip could affect another person.

If it will damage the reputation of another person, or you are talking about something that you have no facts about, it would be wise to simply not take part in it. Putting yourself in the subject’s shoes enables you to do this wisely and simply avoid the gossip.

4.Choose to follow facts rather than assumptions: perhaps you are a team leader and you hear about some information concerning one of your team members that does not seem to be in line with your team values. Before going ahead to judge the subject in question or take action, it is right for you to find the facts about the situation.

Basing on assumptions rather than facts in relating with your work colleagues not only jeopardizes your relationships with them but also affects your work performance negatively. Sure there is often, “no smoke without fire” but sometimes this smoke simply does not lead to a huge fire. Before making any judgments and taking part in the gossip, always be armed with all the necessary information you need.

5.Knowing what gossip to participate in and what type not to: it is okay to participate in a little gossip as long as it does not have detrimental effects on one’s work or other people’s lives.

Avoiding topics such as those related to your co-workers’ confidential information, your boss or any negative information about someone is wise. Sharing rumors about other people can often backfire on you and present you as an untrustworthy co-worker or employee. No matter how good one’s performance may be, such a reputation is not the best to have.

Should you have a personal problem with your boss or one of your co-workers it is better to approach them and sort it out with them rather than involving everyone else.

When it comes to information about the organization such as mergers, acquisitions, promotions or any confidential information about the organization,  it is still not right for one to share this information unless they have been given the permission to do so. Sharing such information presents one as an employee that cannot be trusted with confidential information about the organization.

If the gossip could affect you or another person in a negative way, is not factual, or is information that you are not professionally allowed to share, it is best not to take part in it and should you hear anything related to it, keeping it to yourself would also be a better option.

Should you take part in gossip, be sure that it is positive and accurate news that will help you groom your relationship with other people. For example, should you have accurate information about your rival company that could help your company step up or do better, sharing this information can be impressive to your boss and can help boost your career.  

Now that you are fully aware of what effects office gossip could have and how to handle it best, ensure you exploit this unavoidable aspect of your workplace to help your career elevate.

 

Office Romance; is it Worth it?

The workplace can be a dull place. The drone of workstations and the shuffling of papers can be mind-numbing. For people to retain their sanity there must be some form of excitement. Sometimes, it comes in the form of water dispenser banter, practical jokes, and amusing superior (or a frightening one, you never know what tickles people’s fancy). There are a few things as interesting as a workplace romance. You get to have a partner-in-crime as it were, with whom to do stuff with. You can discuss random ideas during the lunch break or between tasks. You have someone to cover for you in case you can’t do a certain task. And in the evenings, when you’re both free, you can easily plot for a fun night out. It’s all very welcome until it starts crossing into slippery territory.

Jane works in the finance department. She’s lively and friendly and her personality is nothing short of magnetic. People tend to just loiter around her office just to get a glimpse of her every now and then. However, she normally sashays over to the IT department where Francis works. In his little AC-filled office, Francis is always on hand to respond to queries concerning employee networks. These regular visits involve a lot of waiting around until the issue is resolved. So, they pass the time talking. Eventually, whether it was intended or not, they develop feelings for each other and the visits become more frequent. Then they become more romantic in nature. It mostly involves lengthy stares into each other’s eyes as they mentally enact what each of them is thinking. But since it’s the workplace, the status quo must be respected. However, it soon becomes the norm for Francis to be seen making a cup of tea for Jane, or Jane bringing Francis a fruit salad in the morning.

The above scenario goes to show you that you might not be above office romance, as we know it. The thing about office romance is that it’s nearly impossible to hide. But it’s also difficult (for employers) to address. Their main concern is normally that the tension between the two parties might affect their work output. If that doesn’t happen, then they hope things won’t be set on fire if things don’t go well. Besides that, the workplace is not comfortable with displays of affection. Or unwarranted jealousy in case a third party is involved. It’s like the thing that everyone knows and occasionally talks about, but as long as it doesn’t directly affect others, it won’t be a problem.

However some workplaces have strict rules against that sort of behavior, and those rules should be respected. Be sure to read your contract and don’t get on the HR’s bad side. We all know how that might not end well. You might even choose to ignore what your contract explicitly stated and carry on with an undercover operation but be sure to answer this question; When caught (because it will come out), are you ready to leave this job for another, if he/she isn’t? As ultimatums are bound to be given! If your answer is NO, then that romance can be nurtured elsewhere.

Your workplace may be one of the ‘cooler’ ones and no one will stand in the way of something as beautiful as “LOVE” or romance, as it were. There are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about walking down that bright path!

  1. Can you compartmentalize? Are you mature enough to separate official work hours, resources, and emotions from the personal? We wouldn’t want your appraisal assessment to have claims of incompetence because one was at a different work station than where they should have been one too many times.
  2. Can you forgive and forget? Or are you one to call upon a clan-full of haters upon your unforeseen wrongdoer? Not to burst your bubble or anything but we’ve been around long enough to know that one may or may not attempt many relationship(s) before one works out perfectly. If you can’t be adult about disagreements, save self and your colleagues the petty-ugly drama of a break-up.
  3. Can you get past the coworkers asking you where so-and-so is and what happened to them? Are you able to respond to uncomfortable questions with civil politeness? Remember this situation isn’t about you handling your business; it’s about others trying to make it theirs. If the answer was yes, then you will be able to trudge through the day without anybody getting hurt by stationery being thrown in their direction.

Workplace relation(ship)s are the spice in the otherwise bland exercises most of us call jobs. They are what get people excited to be in office, and keep a smile on their faces all day long. Who says you can’t be happy at work? At least as long as work gets done, there’s no harm and no foul, right?

Networking in the Office: How You Can Maintain Healthy Work Relationships.

Let’s say you are the “newbie” at this new job; Perhaps your first job, maybe your third, or fifth. Perhaps you are coming in at entry level better still the new CEO or the at top of the proverbial corporate ladder. Regardless of how you come in, you are now in a new place with  new people and in a  company full of diverse cultures and different ways of doing things.

Many people seem to ignore the fact that the workplace is one of the most important aspects of your entire life. Many of us envision it as a place we go to earn money, but hardly consider how much time spent there. For one with the traditional 9-5 job, you are spending over 8 hours at work which is almost 45% of your day in this place, 5-7 days a week. Research done by Real Sociology indicates that the average person will spend around 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.

There is no doubt that a big part of achieving happiness is ensuring that one is on good terms with the people they are spending most of their time with; which in this case happens to be their, “work colleagues”.  So how can you network and create great relationships with your colleagues to ensure you enjoy the time you spend with them?

  1. Make an effort to be the best employee you can be. Show up to work on time, do your fair share of work diligently and deliver to the best of your abilities.This could sound a bit obvious and not related to networking, but being a good employee will make building your work network much easier. This makes other people easily relate with you since they have a positive attitude towards you. Being that person on the team that frustrates everyone because of how they are always late to deliver on tasks assigned creates a negative attitude for anyone. Getting this first step right means you have done 50% of the work.
  2. Greet Other People. Each time you walk into the office, ensure you greet everyone you meet on your way to your corner of your office. It doesn’t have to be the lengthy African greetings. A simple good morning will do and  goodbye each you are leaving. When a colleague comes over to talk to you, always be polite enough listen, unless you are in a hurry or doing something very important. If the latter happens, simply politely let them know that you are quite engaged at that moment, but be sure to follow up later and try and find out what they were trying to tell you. Try and  find out things about the people you are with. Find out how many kids or siblings they have and any other interests they have away from work. And no, you don’t have to absolutely know every single detail about them.  Just make sure you get to know other aspects of their lives apart from their job.
  3. Set your boundaries and make them known. Letting people cross your boundaries will make you very miserable at your work place. Anyone would hate it. Ensuring you first of all have certain boundaries in place is one step to commanding respect from others. Making them know is a step forward to helping you feel comfortable at your work place. Everyone has their little oddities that most people may not understand. Letting people know that you are not comfortable with certain things makes it easier for everyone else to also relate with you. However, if your little quirks  often make others uncomfortable or ruin the workplace dynamic for other people, you might want to consider compromising. For example, if you like having only your food in the fridge, you should consider buying your own cooler,  learning to share the fridge with other people or finding a job that allows you to work from home.
  4. Respect everyone. Being the genius that has figured out how the company can triple its profits doesn’t give you any right to despise your colleagues who may not be as intelligent as you. Referring to  the  latest Steve Jobs movie,  a scene when Jobs (played by Michael Fassbender) and his apple co-founder Wozniak (played by Seth Rogen) are having a very heated argument and Wozniak closes the argument with this line, ‘It’s not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time.’ Take Wozniak’s words to heart. They put across two great traits of being respect and humility every one needs to have.

 

Actually, that last point about respect sums up everything you need to help you network with your colleagues at work. Our advice to you therefore would be that you further research as much as possible about what it means to be respectful to fellow humans and you are good to go.

 

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss.

I once worked at a supermarket during a time when it was changing ownership and management. The old owner was an affable old man who much preferred to flirt and joke than to actually manage the place (explains why they were selling anyway). The new owner was, on the other hand, overly zealous, probably trying to get back the money invested. He talked too fast, smoked like a chimney and barely said a kind word (except when he was drunk).  The head of the department I worked in, Zahara (not real name) was caught between these two worlds. She was used to slacking because of Mr. Affable and Flirty, but Mr. Over Zealous demanded that she do more, and supervise us more closely. One day, Zahara found a fellow cashier closing up her till for the day at about 4:30 pm. Her shift was ending at 5, but in “Mr. Affable’s” reign, nobody cared what time you closed up, as long as it was close enough to the ending time. Zahara and Lazy Cashier got into a fight, right in front of the customers. Of course pre-new owner Zahara had been a friend and suffice to say Lazy Cashier had enough information ammunition to embarrass Zahara. (I heard something about Zahara’s boyfriend leaving her for a younger woman) Predictably, Zahara became a difficult boss from that day, exacting and irritable, probably to show Mr. Zealous that she could handle employees like Lazy Cashier. You know what they say about every experience teaching you something new. So, you can call the following the Zahara Tips on Dealing with a Difficult Boss:

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  1. Be Above Board

The best way to stay out of trouble with that difficult boss is to follow the primary school motto: do the right thing at the right time in the right way in the right place with the right people. Of course you cannot be perfect, but anybody would find it difficult to pick a fight with you if you turned in your work a day or two before the deadline. It is possible to be above reproach, and that way your work can speak for you even if that “Difficult Boss” tries to accuse you falsely.

cool

  1. Maintain Your Cool

Difficult Boss may rouse you to anger with a snide remark, a false accusation, or even irritate you with her high heeled shoes or his lecherous tone, but you have to stay calm. Lazy Cashier got fired after her shouting match with the boss and so will you if you are exchanging angry emails with your boss or yelling at them in the corridors for everyone to hear. Your own words can be used against you, quite literally.  Also, it alienates the person and strains your relationship even further.

record

  1. Keep Track

It is imperative that you have a record of all dealings with Difficult Boss. Carry a notebook with you and write things down when they give instructions verbally, so that you do not forget something and give them an excuse to start a quarrel. Follow up with e-mails (where possible) and have everything on record so that nobody accuses you falsely. Have an organized desk so that no documents go missing and cause trouble. In short, be alert.

why

  1. Assert Yourself

Having a difficult boss does not mean you should cower and become part of the furniture out of fear. Remember that you were hired because someone thought you would be a valuable asset to the organization/company. Be sure to say what you think in a respectful and clear manner especially if there is a disagreement. It does no good to grumble and gossip about Difficult Boss with your workmates.

To sum all this up, when you become the boss, don’t be like those bosses you complained about. Be the kind of boss you wished your difficult boss could be.