Wednesday, December 12, 2018

How to Have a Perfect Holiday

Perfect HolidayThe most surefire way to have a perfect holiday is… just kidding… you can’t. It would be more accurate to say that the way to virtually guarantee that your holiday is disappointing is to set your mind on having everything perfect. While there is often a long list of details to attend to prepare for the holiday celebration, there is one item that should be #1 on your list: Be flexible.

If your idea of a perfect holiday doesn’t involve any other people, you may be able to come close to achieving it. But as soon as you begin to add your spouse, children, relatives, friends, co-workers – basically anyone – to the festivities, you will need to become willing to bend, stretch and flex to accommodate their schedules, quirks and needs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How to Respond to Challenging Customers

challenging customers

As the holiday season swings in to high gear, retail businesses and service organizations are likely to see a rise in the number of customers they serve each day – as well as stress levels associated with challenging customers.

The importance of excellent Customer Service cannot be overstated in today’s competitive markets. The reality is that people have many vendors, providers and merchants to choose from when making purchases, and if you want to keep them coming back to yours, you and your staff need to understand why it’s important and how to achieve it.

Let’s begin with the “Why”. Excellent customer service…

• Builds trust – According to business mogul Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

• Is more important than price – 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. (Harris Interactive/RightNow)

• Builds positive brand awareness

• Reduces problems for the company

• Appeals to the customer – 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. (American Express)

As you train your staff to respond to challenging customers, here are 10 principles they need to put into practice:

1. Remain Calm and Listen – You cannot intelligently or effectively respond to someone’s problem without first hearing and accurately understanding it.

2. Empathize and Sympathize – Empathy is the ability to understand and mentally share the feelings of another. Sympathy is the ability to express compassion and sorrow for someone’s misfortune.

3. Agree when possible – Agreement on an issue, no matter how small, puts you in less of an adversarial role and helps to diffuse negative emotions.

4. Remember that others may be watching – Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Digging in to Gratitude

GratitudeThis time of year we are bombarded with messages about gratitude. Thanksgiving reminds us to literally “give thanks” for the blessings we enjoy. But I wonder how many of us really “dig in” and go beyond a quick list of people, possessions and experiences we have in our lives.

How much more grateful would you feel if you went deeper into your list? Here’s an exercise to try:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Relationships

AttitudeConventional wisdom holds that as we age our beliefs and attitudes become more rigid. However, new research indicates that our conventional wisdom may be all wet.

A study conducted by researchers at Princeton and Ohio State Universities found that middle-aged adults were in fact more resistant to attitude change than older adults. They point out that “…openness to attitude change is a good thing and in fact is necessary for minimizing social conflict.”

I meet people everyday who hold on to attitudes and beliefs due to stubbornness fueled by pride. It is our pride that often causes division, hurt feelings and ongoing conflict in our relationships. The Book of Proverbs reminds us that, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Regardless of your age, one of the keys to maintaining healthy relationships is being willing to consider the views and opinions of others and allowing your beliefs and attitudes to change. I know this isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort!

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Read “Why You Need a Success Mindset”

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Happiness Formula

I talk to men and women nearly every day who possess a lack of happiness in their lives.  As I listen to them talk about what they believe is the source of their unhappiness I often discover that they lack understanding about both the cause of their unhappiness as well as the solution associated with overcoming it.

HappinessMany people believe that happiness is determined by their circumstances.  “If only I weren’t sick,” “If only I had more money,” “If only I was married – or single,” “If only I was thinner,” and the list of “if onlys” goes on and on.

Since the late 1990’s, psychologists have been taking a closer look at the topic of happiness and why it seems so elusive to many people.  In their book The How of Happiness: A new Approach to Getting the Life You Want, psychologists Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ken Sheldon, David Schkade and Martin Seligman, outline what they believe is the formula for happiness: H = S + C + V.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude

GratitudeAs Thanksgiving approaches, we begin hearing more and more about the importance of gratitude and counting our blessings. To be honest, there are times that we can be more wrapped up in what’s going wrong in our lives or what we are missing, so feeling grateful doesn’t come easily. But gratitude is so beneficial in every area of life – health, well-being, relationships and success – that it is worthwhile to learn how to develop this important quality. The good news is, there are practical ways you can do it!

Here are 10 ideas you can use right now:

The Gratitude Journal. This is simply a notebook or diary to list the things in your life you are grateful for. Start with a basic list, then write one new entry a day identifying what you are grateful for that day and why. Review your list each day while being mindful of your deep sense of gratefulness.

Giving Grace. Giving Grace involves thinking in your mind or verbally expressing thanks to God for any experience you appreciate and never want to take for granted. G.K. Chesterton shares great perspective on this: You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Daily Prayers of Gratitude are another wonderful way to express thanks for the miracles of life. Starting or ending your day with a prayer of gratitude for not only your blessings, but even your trials is a great way to acknowledge that there is purpose in all things. Prayer is also an important reminder that you

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Do You a Have a Need to Be Right?

If we’re honest, we all have to admit that sometimes we can be driven by a need to be right. Whether you’re involved in a debate over politics, discussing the fuel efficiency of your favorite vehicle or arguing with your spouse about how to raise your children, there’s something satisfying about being proved right when the facts are revealed.

Need to be rightAt times, wanting to be right is simply an outgrowth of healthy, good-humored competition. For example, if you are playing a trivia game with a group of friends, whoever gets the right answer will probably tease other players, cheer for themselves and maybe indulge in some “trash talk” to rub it in that “I was right, you were wrong!” If everyone laughs along with the winner, it’s a good indication that the friends are confident in themselves and their relationship to one another. But if one of the players becomes angry or distressed, it may be an indication of an unhealthy emotional response to being wrong.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring… Into Action!

Spring comes every year and yet it never feels like the “same old thing.” There is something exciting about new beginnings, new growth and new birth. While all of nature gets a fresh start, you can too! Spring time is a great opportunity to take positive action in one or more areas of your life.

ActionSweep away old negative attitudes – For those of us who live in Southern Arizona, winter can be a welcome break from blistering hot summers, but for many people around the country it’s a season of darkness, debilitating cold and difficulty with daily activities like driving to work, loading groceries into the car or spending 20 minutes bundling up the kids so they can go outside, just to have them come in 10 minutes later because they are cold.

We all experience “winters” in our lives – times when everything is just hard. You can probably tell me about a season where you suffered loss, faced overwhelming financial strain, struggled with your health or felt fearful about what would happen next. Maybe all of the above. Maybe all at the same time. After a dark season, we can easily fall into a pessimistic pattern of assuming the worst and becoming discouraged. Sweeping out a bad attitude requires a consistent commitment to stopping negative thoughts and replacing them with optimism. I sometimes recommend that a client take action by literally saying the word “STOP!” out loud when they recognize negative thoughts creeping in. Some circumstances require a decision to make a change, but sometimes an intentional effort to reframe your thoughts can be a powerful tool to turn negativity into optimism.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Attitude Is Everything

I am so pleased that my good friend and colleague, David Towne, accepted my invitation to write today’s blog post on the incredibly important topic of Attitude.  In addition to being a highly gifted educator, communicator and professional development guru, David is also one of the most relational people I have ever met.  His ability to make genuine personal connections with people of all ages is remarkable, and I know you will enjoy his thoughts and insights.  Please take a moment to share your comments on the role attitude has played in your own life.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Attitude is EverythingRight after I completed my Masters in Teaching degree from Seattle University in 1991 my wife threw a surprise graduation party for me. Even though I am not a big surprise party type of guy, it was a joy to celebrate with family and friends. One of the gifts I received that day was a poster of a monkey on a bike with the caption saying “Attitude is Everything”. After 25 years, that poster is still framed and hanging in my workspace. I named the monkey “Freddy” and have been caught talking to him on many occasions, which often concerns those who witness me conversing with a poster on the wall!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Snap Judgments Will Break Relationships

Many of us are rather proud of ourselves when we are able to deliver a snappy come-back in a conversation. Someone makes a comment that triggers an immediate response, and it seems our retort pops out faster than our brains can fully process the thought. As witty, clever or amusing as it can be at times, speaking before thinking or before having all the facts can do serious harm to relationships.

Snap JudgementsWe all speak too soon at times. We verbalize negative value judgments about others based on incomplete information and because of our own conscious and subconscious prejudices and biases. We have been seeing a lot of well-publicized incidents in the news lately in which an event occurs, and people with various viewpoints immediately and vehemently react – sometimes violently. And, at times, once more information becomes available we find that the reactions were inappropriate and overblown.