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Service Hack: The Name Game

Service Hack: The Name Game

You want an easy hack? Whenever you’re dealing with someone, especially in the service industry, use their name.

When meeting your server at the restaurant, remember his name, and when you ask for things, say it back. “James, may I get another glass of water with lemon?” “Ramesh, this is the best aloo mutter I have ever had. Please thank the cook.”

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It’s amazing how this bonds people to you.

Names Matter

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People love hearing their own name. It’s something built in. For whatever reason, it makes a little touch, a “ping” against our inner validity when people know and remember our names.

When you meet people with names foreign to your language, make sure you get them right. Don’t belabor the issue, but ask them to repeat it a few times, and try your best to get it close to what they’re saying. In lots of cultures, people won’t correct you once you’ve gone off and started saying their name incorrectly, and yet, I imagine it’s something of a stab every time they hear it.

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On the phone with a customer service representative, sometimes names serve two purposes. One, it gives the person on the other end of the line the cue that you are attentive, so they should be on their best game, and also, you know who might have given you incorrect information. The first premise applies: people love hearing their own name, but these other two layered on make it a great thing to consider.

State your name

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When dealing with people, especially for the first time, lead with your name. Do this when calling places. “Hi, my name is Chris Brogan. May I speak with Dave?” It disarms people on the other side of a phone call, because one question when dealing with a telephone is always, “who is on the other end?” You answer this right off, and people can focus more on what you need. It also comes off that you’re not hiding anything, and this is disarming to recipients as well.

Start voicemails with your name, so that there’s no chance of people not knowing who called. Introduce yourself in social settings with your name, even if others are just making small-talk. This helps with that weird feeling afterwards, where you’ve bonded a bit, but you have no clue the other person’s name, nor they yours.

Names are powerful in dealing with people, and people are a vital part of all service. Try this out and see what you think of the results. For the record, my name is Chris Brogan.

— Chris Brogan is a regular writer at Lifehack.org. He is working on a site to grow and develop new content networks at GrasshopperFactory.com, and he puts up even more posts and articles at [chrisbrogan.com]. Occasionally, he sleeps.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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