The Customer is King

If we love our customers, they feel it. They also feel it if we don’t. 

Customer Service has always been a passion of mine. I do not know where it came from, but it has always been a part of me. Customer Service has been one of my main platforms in my Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching Leadership Development business since it started in 1993. Last weekend I got the opportunity to match my words with my actions.

A good message for customer service.

In addition to my main business, The Fralix Group, Inc., I have a small antiques and gifts business inside Northrop Mall in Southport. I have had this business since the early 1990’s. This is my fun side. Mike reminds me that it is more of a hobby than a business, which is absolutely true.

Last weekend I was at the mall, puttering around. While I do “work” two to three days a month there, as many dealers do, on this particular day I was not scheduled to work, although I was helping behind the counter when a couple came into the shop. The woman was so excited and started to tell us how this was her favorite shop, that she had been quarantined for over a year, and this was her first trip to a store. She was so excited that she was bubbling over!

A friend, Pat Hughes, has been giving these hand sanitizers (in different scents) to restaurant staff and friends for months. What a nice touch! 

Then a problem surfaced. Her male partner was not wearing a mask. The staff member in charge politely told him that he would need to put on a mask, to which he replied, “I do not have one. Do you have one I can have?” The staff member told him we had some for sale and pointed those out to him. He replied, “You mean I have to buy one?! You don’t have any for customers without them having to buy one?” He was told that we previously had some for $1, but those were all gone, and pointed the ones out that were for sale for $7.50 and $8.00. He was becoming increasingly more frustrated. The woman who accompanied him seemed to be somewhat oblivious to what was happening about the masks; she was shopping already, properly masked.

For whatever reason, and the only reason I know of is that I wanted to turn this negative situation around, I decided to intervene. I told the man, “I am going to give you a mask.” And I did. I gave him one of the $8 masks that I had for sale. Those masks were on consignment, which means they were someone else’s, not technically mine, but that did not matter to me. I was willing to pay for the $8 mask myself to turn this situation into a positive one. And it did just that. The man was appreciative and commenced to shop.

If we are kind, we probably are “others” oriented, and customer service comes naturally. 

About an hour later the couple checked out after having spent more than $1700! For an $8 mask. I am convinced that none of those sales would have happened if the customer had not been given the $8 mask. Maybe because of the principle of the matter. Maybe he really thought that the shop should have supplied him a mask. Maybe it was financial. It is possible that he did not have $8 to buy a mask. (How could this be, if they spent more than $1700?! She spent more than $1700! He spent nothing.) Or maybe for another reason. I did not know the man’s thinking. I did not really know the thinking of anyone else who was looking on to this situation, and there were several people around and aware. I only knew mine. I was very clear about my thinking. What was my thinking?

One way that Capital One in Georgetown serves its customers. 

I wanted to de-escalate the situation, and by giving the customer the mask, it did. I wanted the customer to know we heard him, that we cared about his dilemma. He saw that, and I think, felt it. He thanked me several times over the next hour while his female friend shopped. I did not want us (not just me, but the other staff and the mall as well,) to stand on principle, to be right, and in so doing, make the customer wrong. I wanted to solve this problem and have a satisfied customer. I do believe that all of that was accomplished. And this wasn’t about me. It was about the customer. The customer is King.

A customer service example from our recent trip to St. Maarten/St, Martin. The Medical Clinic in Marigot gave FREE Covid tests to any customer with a passport. The same tests were $75 pp at our resort and $100 pp at the airport.

This does not mean that the customer is always right. Far from it. Nor does it mean that the customer’s expectations are reasonable. They sometimes aren’t. What it does mean is that the customer is King. The customer can do without us. But we cannot do without the customer. If we forget this, and allow ourselves to focus on the customer’s responsibility (such as coming in with a mask, or having to buy one) instead of ours (solving the customer’s problems,) we do so at our own peril. The customer is King.  

None of the more than $1700 in sales went to me. In fact, solving this customer dilemma cost me $8.00, since I will pay the person whose mask made the sales possible.

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Two Years Today

 Our wonderful jeweler friends at Joe’s Jewelry in St. Maarten toasted us with an anniversary cake and champagne!

Today, May 7, 2021, is the second anniversary of my commitment to no longer drink alcohol. Wine had been my drink of choice, with an occasional Appletini, Lemon Drop Martini, or Caipirinha. When I stopped drinking, I was an almost daily drinker, especially enjoying my wine in the evenings. The reason I stopped drinking was two-fold. I knew that it was an unhealthy habit, and I thought it could even be an addiction. I knew that I was playing with fire with this, since my mother and other family members were alcoholics. The other reason was to lose weight.

When I stopped drinking alcohol, I did not think that I was making a forever decision. I did not have a particular time frame in mind for this decision. On that day, May 7, 2019, I just knew it was the right thing to do. I had planned to do this many times before but had not. I do not know what made this day different. To this day, I do not know why May 7 was the day I was able to make this commitment and had not been able to before. I have stopped trying to figure that out and am just thankful that I was finally able to make this commitment.

Simpson Bay in St. Maarten.

Stopping drinking has been, for the most part, much easier than I thought it would be. I have not needed any outside assistance, for which I am grateful. If I had needed outside assistance, such as AA, I think it would have been much harder. The fact that I haven’t does not make me any stronger. I think the stronger people are those who do access resources such as AA, helping others as well as themselves. They are braver and stronger than I am.

I go to most of the same places with many of the same people, and I drink iced tea or diet coke while others drink alcohol. Most people most of the time are supportive of my decision, not trying to coerce me to drink. I have alcohol in our home, and even buy it for others. Just because this is my plan does not mean it has to be anyone else’s.  Alcohol is not bad.  I do believe that alcohol consumption has gotten out of hand, and not just because of COVID. It can be a social activity and not a problem when done in moderation. I do not believe that daily alcohol consumption is moderate drinking.    

The best cappuccino I have ever had at L’Express in Marigot in St. Martin.

I have learned many lessons in these two years, about alcohol, myself, and the power of a commitment. I learned from this the power of taking one step, and letting the rest unfold. We do not have to be able to figure it all out at once. If we just trust ourselves, our higher power, and the process, we will be amazed at what we can do.

In the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, I want to share that I had two drinks recently, both last week while on vacation in St. Maarten.  They were both very small, and not any of my drinks of choice. Neither were planned, no one coerced me, and I made a quick decision in both cases to not obsess over the decision.

The first was a small glass of champagne given to me by our St. Maarten jeweler friends along with an anniversary cake. I considered not accepting the champagne but decided that might not be gracious. I had a momentary dilemma with this decision but felt ok about it once it was done. I did not accept the offer of a second glass. The second drink was a small glass of limoncello given at the end of our anniversary dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant the next night. I certainly did not “need” to accept that drink but did.   

I decided that just because I made those decisions does not change my commitment to not drink alcohol. Nor does that mean that I will have more temptations to drink while on vacation. I am ok with my decision to have those two drinks, and do not think those decisions have anything to do with changing my commitment to not drink alcohol. Yes, on those two occasions, I made a decision not consistent with my commitment, but my commitment is still solid.  

And this includes alcohol!

I know that for me starting to drink again can be a slippery slope. I do not think that I would be able to drink in moderation. I think it would become a daily habit for me again. I think in the back of my mind I had those two drinks last week as somewhat of a “test,” to see if I would go back to drinking again. If so, I passed that test. I have not been even tempted to do so since then.

There was one temptation that drinking those two drinks last week created. I initially did not want to share the truth about that. I considered not even mentioning them. No one but Mike would know, and he volunteered that he would not divulge that to anyone. But I knew.  And that would not meet my standard of honesty. My readers who have heard of this journey of mine and have been supportive in so many ways deserve better than such withholding.

When speaking and teaching on leadership and communication through the years I have often discussed honesty. I have posed the question, “Is withholding being honest?” I have received various answers to the question. The answer I have given is that if the withholding protects the other person, it may be appropriate. If the withholding is to protect oneself, it is usually not appropriate. In making my decision about this I had to remember Gandhi’s mantra, “You Must be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” 

We can often hide our behavior from others. But we cannot hide from ourselves.

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37 Years and Counting

Mike and I at our favorite Jewelry store in St. Maarten, celebrating our 37th anniversary!

Where do the years go? Most of us can attest to the saying, “The days pass slowly, but the years fly by.” This is certainly true of Mike’s and my marriage. April 28, 2021 was our 37th anniversary. When I think of this, as well as remember that I will be 70 years of age this November, I am amazed. And grateful.

Beloved brothers, Robby Kinney and Stephen Kinney.

Our anniversary will always be shared with the death of our son-in-law Stephen’s beloved brother, Robby. Robby passed away suddenly from heart disease on April 28, 2020 at the young age of 41. His widow, Candi, sons Bradlee and John Morgan, parents Jane and Steve, sister Ginger, and brother Stephen and their families’ lives will never be the same. I would be ungrateful for life if I complained about aging when Robby and many others lost their opportunity to age. Hold your loved ones tight, and never go to bed angry with others, for we never know when we have seen them for the last time.

A recent family photo that includes (not all) but many of our family. 

As I think about my life and our marriage, there is much for which to be grateful. In 1984 Mike and I combined our families and committed to raise our daughters together. The girls were 6 and 8 at the time and from our previous marriages. Mike and I knew that we were not just marrying each other, we were committing to building a home with and for our daughters.  Through the years we have recommitted to that, not by renewing our vows in a ceremony, but by every decision that we made to stay together. It has not always been easy, but we have not wavered in our commitment. Our commitment to each other and to our daughters carried us through some rough times. Now, we have not just daughters but grandchildren who keep us committed!

Mike and I are enroute home via the good graces and humanitarian efforts of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line after Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten.
Mike and I in St. Maarten 9/6/19. 
Mike and I returned to St Maarten for the one year anniversary of Hurricane Irma 9/6/18.

Marriage is a commitment, and one that should last.  As Mike and I, and also some reading this know, even with a commitment, a marriage does not always last. When a marriage ends, a family suffers. Regardless of the circumstances, marriages that dissolve have collateral damage that can last forever. Families suffer. Over time the disintegration of marriages and families affects the moral fabric of society. This is not said to induce guilt. It is said to reinforce commitment, the commitment that places the appropriate responsibility for the emotional health of children squarely on the shoulders of parents. It is important to note that in situations in which physical or emotional abuse is involved, it may be important to dissolve the marriage for the safety of those involved. In these situations, the commitment to the health and well- being of those involved takes priority over the commitment to the marriage.  

St. Maarten 9/4/15 
Flowers to greet our arrival in St. Maarten 8/24/16 sent by our favorite jewelry store salesman, Arun/Ron, of Joe’s Jewelry. Sept 2017 Ron and his family moved in with us to weather Hurricane Irma. 

Mike and I decided to celebrate our anniversary this year with a trip to St. Maarten. We have been travelling to St. Maarten for two weeks each year since 2000, with the exception of 2020, when COVID negated our trip. Some of the years our travel has included our children, other family, and friends. Some years, including this year, we have travelled alone. As I have reviewed photos from our travels to the island, I remember many good times, and an especially scary time due to Hurricane Irma in 2017. This mimics life in general, and marriage.

Some of the devastation in the Maho area of St. Maarten, 9/6/17.
St. Maarten 4/26/21

Many good times, and some scary times. Such is life. And marriage.        

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What is Really Important?

Uncle Barry and I enjoyed a dinner of salmon, asparagus, and parsleyed potatoes.

COVID has changed many people, me included. Some things that previously bothered me, no longer do. Well, that isn’t totally true. Some of those things still bother me, I just choose to let some of them go. I have decided to “not sweat the small stuff.” While it is difficult to sometimes differentiate what is small stuff and what is more important, there are some obvious things that fall into both categories.

As much as I cook and bake, I do not know how this could be my first apple pie, but I think it is. Uncle Barry was the presiding chef! 

I had a “small stuff” experience last night when I checked into a hotel that I have been staying in for one to two nights a week while visiting an elderly uncle who has been receiving treatment for cancer. The staff at the hotel have all been great, even recognizing me and calling me by name. Until last night, when the person behind the desk was terrible. He was slow, not seeming to know what he was doing. It was late, and he made check-in a difficult experience. His attitude was not good either. With customer service such a core value of mine, I wanted to complain about him this morning. But I didn’t. I decided to let it go. I do not want to be the one who could adversely impact someone’s livelihood, especially at the time of COVID and all of its challenges. I do not know if I made the right decision or not, but it felt right to me.

Uncle Barry at soon to be 91 years young.

Something much more important than occasional bad service at a hotel is my uncle’s condition. He is almost 91 years of age, and just finished six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation for bladder cancer. I do not know many people, or any, with his fortitude and stamina. While he does not feel good, sleeps a lot, and doesn’t have much energy, he never complains. Maybe because he is of the generation that did what needed to be done, without the drama some people express. The rest of us could learn a lesson or two from him.

How are you doing? Have you noticed any changes in your behavior as a result of the pandemic? Do you consciously choose to let the small stuff go, and focus on what is really important?   

  

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Beauty in Many Forms

I learned many years ago that I have a need for beauty. Not a want, but a need. I have recognized that when my life lacks beauty, I am out of sorts. Beauty is found in many tangible items. I love the beauty of things, such as furniture, accessories, and fabric. Beauty is also found in nature, and this time of the year in the south beauty is everywhere in the flowering trees and plants. Beauty is also found in order, and simplicity creates order. One definition of beauty is “a feature making things pleasurable to perceive.” These are the traditional definitions of beauty. 

Lately I have broadened my definition of beauty to include not just those examples, but also the behavior of people. I have spent time lately with an elderly uncle in various care settings, and I have found beauty in the behavior of caregivers, especially nurses. In one such experience yesterday, my heart was so full emotionally for the kindnesses of nurses, that I was almost brought to my knees in gratitude. Nurses truly are angels of mercy. 

Out for a delicious breakfast with Uncle Barry at First Watch, a favorite new restaurant.

I have also found beauty in the behavior of salespeople, as I have helped my uncle pick out and order carpet, and have it installed. I have also found beauty in the behavior of carpet installation staff as we dealt with an installation error that needed to be corrected. The importance of a positive and helpful attitude cannot be overrated.

These individuals and these experiences have broadened my definition of beauty, not beauty in the physical and traditional sense, but the beauty found in the attitudes and behavior of people we interface with every day in a variety of settings. The beauty of behavior that leaves a lasting positive impression long after the experience has passed.

Which has me asking myself the question, “Is my attitude and behavior reflective of beauty to others?” You might want to consider the same.

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Hello Spring!

First Baptist Church in Southport, NC.

Spring has arrived, although the cool weather these next few days implies otherwise. But the flowering trees are in full bloom in our area, the days are longer (thank you, DST!) and most days I even have a spring in my step! Also, more businesses are opening up, although we still need to be careful, and ease into being out with others. We have hibernated so long it is tempting to forge ahead and do the things we have not been able to do for over a year. But let’s not throw caution to the wind. We’ve come too far to go back.

Easter is upon us. Today, Good Friday, reminds Christians of Christ’s sacrifice. May we be mindful of this as we prepare for Easter Sunday, and Jesus’ resurrection. Christians around the world will be singing “He Lives!” Whatever you believe, however you celebrate, or even if you don’t, may you have the peace that passes all understanding.

Walking on the beach gives me peace.

Peace keeps us centered. It nourishes us and gives us strength to get through the hard times. Peace gives us calm and helps us to be our best with others. Peace is a prerequisite for joy, or even for happiness. When we do not have peace, life’s daily challenges can throw us off course. I have had a challenge with this lately and am only now connecting to what I have been missing.

Wonderland is another word for peace.

The (almost) final straw to a month of chaos was last night when the internet went out. When our internet goes out, our (Roku) TV also goes out. Although the internet and TV are not (usually) necessary, (other than for virtual work and school for some) they are mindless diversions that at times are enjoyable. While I realize that this is a first world problem, and in the scope of things not really that important, it was the straw. Several events, mainly delays that created problems that created more problems, had occurred in the few weeks before that, creating unhealthy stress in me. The effect was cumulative. I felt like I was coming unhinged, a state of mind that worried me. I rarely get to that point, but I was there last night. Thankfully, the internet problem was corrected fairly quickly, and I was able to correct myself. Today I am trying to figure out how I got to that point. It did not take me too long to figure it out. The absence of peace in my daily life created that state. Writing “the peace that passes all understanding” brought it into my awareness.

Walking in my neighborhood this time of year is a visual delight.

I realize that I need time, space, and healthy connection to have peace. In the past few weeks, due to some time limited responsibilities, I have been missing all three. I am so glad that I stopped drinking alcohol almost two years ago, or the stress of these recent weeks would have been unmanageable. This too will pass, and soon the peace I need can be restored.

One of my latest favorite things. Expensive, but worth it.

How about you? What do you need to have peace? Are you getting those things? If not, are you able to take some control of your situation, and restore the peace you need? How do you begin to do so? Are there some things, or even people, you need to rid yourself of to do so? Are you able and willing to make the necessary changes to return to the person you want to be?

Just take one step at a time and see and feel the difference. See and feel the spring in your step restored.

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Life Can Change So Quickly

I tried to write about something other than the tragedies of the past few days, but I couldn’t. The stories of the Atlanta and Boulder killings grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I don’t know what I can add to the continuous news of both of these mass murders. But no other subject seems worthy of my time, or yours. We cannot afford to let these latest tragedies take a back seat to anything else.

Some people are focusing on the gun control battle, using these latest tragedies as evidence that we need gun control to prevent these from happening. There are others who focus on mental health. Then there are those who espouse that hate crimes are the culprit. I believe the case can be made for all three schools of thought. What I do not agree with is making these tragedies a political statement. This is a public health crisis, and all of our country’s resources are needed to stop the madness.

COVID made this even more true.
Let’s make our moments and our days matter.
A promise worth believing.

The people who lost their lives recently at the hands of these killers started their day like many other days. They woke up, dressed, and went about their daily lives. They planned to come home at the end of the day. But that was not to be. Their innocent lives were snuffed out. Their families and loved ones are left to grieve their loss. Others of us are left to try to make sense of the senselessness.

COVID gave us the opportunity to do more of this than ever before.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that much of life is unpredictable. Things happen that we cannot plan for. There is so much that we cannot control. Our life can change on a dime.

If we are not healthy, not much else matters.

But much of our life is predictable. We know that certain actions bring us joy, and other actions bring us pain. We know that if we keep doing the things that bring us pain, we will get more of what we do not want. We know that if we do more of what brings us joy, we will live a more fulfilled life. We know these truths, yet we do not always act on this knowledge. Then one day our time runs out.

Money is only a means to have other things that we want and need, especially safety and security.

In honor of those in Atlanta and Boulder, and too many before them, whose lives were snuffed out, let us take action. We owe it to them, and even more importantly, to ourselves, to be our best self, and to live our best life.

Before it is too late.    

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“All of Our Representatives are Busy Assisting Other Callers.”

“But your call is very important to us. We will be with you shortly.” Then your call goes into a deep hole. The voice message while you are waiting an inordinate amount of time tells you many things the company wants you to know before ever getting to the reason for your call. “If this is a life-threatening emergency hang up and call 911.” (Would someone with a life-threatening emergency really call the doctor’s office and not 911?!)

Especially when customer service is lacking!

Customer service has long been a value of mine. How a business serves its customers should be a focus of businesses now more than ever before. The pandemic has wrought havoc on many businesses, closing many that will never reopen. Those that continue to evolve with the times and serve their customers well can be even stronger than ever before. But not by rote phone messages that frustrate their customers before they even get to a live voice.

A coffee hour provided by Capital One in Georgetown. Great customer service!
An important message for all of us!

If you are a business owner or a businessperson, it is important to think for your customers. What is important to them? Call your own business and hear the message your customers hear, and how long it takes to get to a live voice, if ever. Consider the feelings that are generated by the message you hear on the phone. Is it inviting? Is it informative? How long are you kept on hold, and is the amount of time acceptable?

The sign business that provided granddaughter Mary Grace’s 16th birthday sign exceeded our expectations by leaving the sign up longer than paid for and longer than expected. More businesses need to exceed expectations.

Time is our most valuable resource, and even in the time of a global pandemic, we are not tolerant of businesses that waste our time. Think about Amazon, and how easy it is to purchase something from Amazon. I realize that many people do not want to shop with Amazon, in part because of the negative impact Amazon has on local small businesses. I am not making the point that we should shop with Amazon, just that when we do it is easy and quick. Easy and quick is something that more businesses could model.

The Butterfly Effect.

“We will be with you in a moment.” Then, we go into the deep dark hole again and wait.  

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How Much Time Can We Spare?

Uncle Barry and I out for a delicious breakfast of lemon ricotta pancakes.

It is so easy to get caught up in our own stuff, while others around us are in need. If we can’t make time for others during this pandemic, there is no hope for us to do so. We have had more time this past year than at “normal” times, and if we could not carve out some time for those in need, we will never be able to do so when we return to our (new) normal. 

A wonderful book with stories and recipes that nourish the spirit and the body.

The “need” may simply be for us to reach out and make a connection to others who are alone, and lonely. I realize that some of us can’t be with others physically yet, but there are other ways that we can do for others. How about a periodic phone call? As I write this, I am immediately feeling guilty that I have not done that with a couple of elders, although I have served others in that way, and in other ways. But I could have done more. We could send cards and write a short note to brighten the days of those who live alone.

Our first grandchild, Mary Grace, will be 16 years old on Friday. Where did the years go?
Mary Grace on a recent visit to Raleigh.

I am reminded of my friend, Judy, and a lesson she taught me many years ago that is ever present with me to this day. It was when my mother was basically homebound, and I made the three-hour trip to visit her about once a month. I have never liked take-out food. Mother would not go out to eat and did not cook, and I did not cook and take food to her when I visited. I would get her whatever she wanted to eat, and take it to her apartment, then I would go out to a restaurant and eat my meal there. (I am sad even thinking about this, and guilty. What was I thinking?!)

My wise friend, Judy and me, a few years ago at her surprise birthday celebration.

Once when Judy visited mother with me, I suggested that we pick up something for mother to eat and then go out to a restaurant and have a nice meal. My wise friend Judy said, “Let’s get something and bring it back and eat here with your mom. She will enjoy our company so much more that way.” We did, she did, and I learned a valuable lesson. It wasn’t about the food; it was about the time spent with her.

Uncle Barry and Mike at the kitchen bar where we spend not just our meals but our days!

I can’t undo what I did, or didn’t do, with my mother, but I am taking that lesson and applying it to my time spent with my 90-year-old uncle, Uncle Barry. I take food when I visit him, cook for him, and eat with him at his kitchen bar in front of the TV. That is his style, and it does not matter that it isn’t mine. Our time together is to be together. And it isn’t really about the food at all. I am blessed more by being with him than I could ever be by what I do for him. I am not really trying to “make up” for what I did not do for my mother, but I feel less guilty knowing that I indeed learned a valuable lesson that I am able to pay forward.

What the world needs now.

Time is our most valuable resource. Once gone, it cannot be recovered. We should spend at least some of the time we have doing for others. Not because we hope that someone will be there for us when we need them.

Just because.

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Are We Really Too Busy?!

We are really trying, aren’t we?!

It goes without saying that many of us have been struggling through the pandemic. We miss our favorite activities and our loved ones. Some miss going to restaurants and travelling. Some miss income, having lost jobs that may not return. And even worse than all of these, some miss loved ones whose lives were taken by COVID. While we are struggling, regardless of the specific struggle and how we are coping, communication becomes even more important than during normal times. And I am afraid that some people are not paying attention to the need to communicate, and to do so in a timely manner. Are we really too busy?  Or are we so focused on our own stuff that we fail to reach out and touch someone? Maybe, just maybe, we have forgotten some of how and when we should communicate. If so, consider the following a brief primer. These are not intended to be all inclusive, but they are a good starting point.

A promise worth believing.

Texting

More people are texting than calling, and that presents some challenges. When we speak with someone on the phone, we have our voice to help us deliver the message. A text is the written word, without the benefit of our tone of voice to soften our message. On the phone, we can hear the response, and gauge what ours should be. Not so with texting.

Texting is here to stay, regardless of its complications. We can communicate better by texting remembering a few simple texting “rules.” First, be careful when texting that you send the text to the right person! Some reading this can give an example of when this rule was not followed, and the problems that were created.

Texting is sometimes done so quickly that autocorrect “corrections” change the meaning of the intended message. If we do not review the text before it is sent, we can be very embarrassed and have to take more time to get out of the mess we created by speed and our lack of attention to detail. 

Group texts present a different kind of problem. They should be used to send information to more than one person, saving time for the sender. When responding to a group text, we should be careful and assure that our response should go to all, and if not, send a separate text to whomever it applies to.

Usually all on a group text should reply, if for no other reason than to let the sender know you received it. Yes, even if you have the info already! To not “weigh in,” especially if the info is important, can be considered uncaring. Are we really too busy to reply?

Timeliness is important in all communication, and especially so with texts. Most people send texts to get info quickly to other people and expect a timely response. Some people do not have their phone tied to them like some others, and their time is important also. But it takes little time to check our texts several times a day, so we do not miss important information, and can reply in a timely manner. If we are not willing to do so, we should let those close to us know, and perhaps even tell them how best to get important info to us.

What about Bitmojis?

Emails

What about emails? Emails are also the written word, and share the same challenges mentioned about texting, other than they do not have the same expectation of a quick response. But they should receive a timely reply. The standard for a timely reply to an email is twenty-four hours, whenever possible, and earlier than that if the subject warrants.

When communicating in writing, it is important which words are used. Our words should be clear, yet kind. We should use direct or indirect language intentionally. Our use of qualifiers (words or phrases used to either soften or change our message in other ways) should be intentional. The desired or expected action from us should be clear.

I haven’t read the book, but many of us are living the title.

Phone Etiquette

Some of us still communicate by phone, at least occasionally, and at least, my generation! There are a few phone etiquette rules that can make our interaction with others pleasant.

A friend of mine who is very bothered by this would want me to mention that we should not be doing other things while talking on the phone. This includes cleaning out the dishwasher (my favorite!) and making noise that is magnified on the other end.

At the risk of my daughter thinking this comment is intended for her (it really isn’t,) when we miss a call from someone close, we should return the call, and in a reasonable time frame, preferably the same day. Especially when a message is left. This does not include what we know may be a “pocket call.”

Granted, there are robocalls that annoy all of us. The car warranty people are the biggest offenders. There are robocall blockers that are effective, yet they also block legitimate calls, such as those from doctors’ offices. I have found that if a call is legitimate, a message is left, and the call can be returned.   

Kindness

Kindness is a thread that should be throughout all communication. How do we show kindness through communication? First by considering the style and desires of the other person. Do they like brief and to-the-point information, or a lot of detail? We should communicate with others using the Platinum Rule. (See the blog on this in the March 3, 2015 post on www.fralixgroup.com.)

We should take the time to be friendly, being careful to not waste the time of others. We are being friendly when we make a comment such as “I hope that you are having a good week,” or “Thank you for your assistance.” 

I will show kindness by stopping this primer, and letting readers decide how to use the information. While I do the same thing. As with much of my writings, this is about “me too.”

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