How to Manage Difficult Conversations

Conversation

A difficult conversation is a conversation where we have to manage our emotions and information in a sensitive way. We may need to address personality clashes, or deal with personal problems, or address poor performance, conduct, or investigate complaints.

Most people dislike delivering bad news in person and will find any way to avoid it but these conversations should NOT be avoided. Yes, it is difficult to meet with someone and give them a message that may upset them, hurt them, or disappoint them. However, avoiding these conversations can make the situation even worse. The longer we wait, the more it can affect our workplace environment, our productivity, or our home life.


The Dilemma of the Difficult Conversation:

• If we avoid the problem, we feel taken advantage of
• Our feelings fester
• We feel like a coward
• We lose an opportunity to improve things
• If we confront the problem, things may get worse

(taken from the book notes Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S)

The good news is that there are some very practical steps you can take to help you handle these conversations better and, where it’s possible, obtain the outcomes you want.

Start by facing the problem and preparing:

1. It is important to set a positive tone going into the meeting and clarify the purpose of the conversation.

Get yourself in a place where you can really listen, so you will hear how the other person sees the situation. Make a strong effort to keep your own emotions in check. Meetings like this can easily become emotionally-charged.

2. The meeting should be fact-based.

If the emotional levels rise at the meeting, you may decide to request to schedule another meeting at a later date. If meeting with an employee, you should be able to outline your expectations and explain how they are missing the mark. Performance reviews are a way to evaluate if certain goals or objectives are being met.

3. Keep the attention on the purpose of the meeting and ask open ended questions.

This allows for more of an invitation for them to answer than a request, “Help me to understand…, Tell me more about…, How are you feeling about all of this…,”. Allow them the space not to answer. If the answers are not clear, you may want to keep digging. Note: Sometimes the most skillful question can provoke defensiveness. Give the person a choice if they want to answer the questions to show your intent to be more caring. This frees the person to think about the question. Acknowledge their feelings and paraphrase for clarity.

4. Ask the person what suggestions they have to resolve the situation.

Suggest what you think the other person could do and then schedule a follow up meeting. Thank the person for talking with you. Offer why it is important to resolve this conflict.

Having the necessary soft skills to navigate difficult conversations at work or home helps everyone!


Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visitwww.bygeorgecoaching.com  or call 215-738-5289.

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Why is a Compelling Business Value Proposition Important?

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A value proposition is not a slogan or tagline, it is a statement that explains what benefits you provide and for who, and how you provide this benefit uniquely well (It is the primary reason a customer should buy from you!).  It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, or situation you improve, for your target buyer and why you are the best choice over their other options.

The first questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • Is the problem you solve urgent for your target market?
  • Is the product or service you offer unique and compelling?
  • What are the benefits?

You want to present your value proposition as the first thing the visitors see and it’s not just for aesthetics, but ultimately, to improve your customer’s business and life. Value proposition is something anyone can easily understand and needs to be in the language of your customers. The best way to do this is to describe your offering and how they can benefit from it in a block of text.

            ______________________________________________________

Here’s an example outline you can follow to create your own value proposition:

  1. Headline: In 1 short sentence, what is the end benefit you are offering? 
  1. Who is it for: (target customers, who are seeking?)
    • 2-3 sentence paragraph of what you offer/ for whom and why it is useful
    • What are the key benefits 2-3 bullet points
  1. How are you different from others in your field? (Begin with ‘Unlike other…’) 
  1. Show an image reinforcing your main message.

             ______________________________________________________

 Here is mine:

Offering Improved Performance in Your Business and Life

I provide Business/Personal Development Coaching to identify obstacles, and provide direction, feedback, support and accountability, so you can get where you want to go faster than on your own.

For Business Owners/Business Professionals who want to gain clarity, focus, and stay committed to their goals

  • During Times of Important Transitions
  • During Periods of Rapid Business Growth
  • Owners/Leaders Who Need to be Re-energized to Build their Business and Staff
  • During Times of Trouble

Unlike other coaches, I am an experienced Business Leader and a Certified Co-Active Coach through CTI, one of the most rigorous and respected training programs in the coaching industry.

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Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visitwww.bygeorgecoaching.com  or call 215-738-5289.

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Client Retention Strategies Increase Profits

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In any business the cost of losing customers is dangerously high and negatively impacts the entire company, which is why it’s more profitable to expend your efforts on retaining existing clients.

It is a well-known fact that it takes more resources and time (and in addition can cost 5x more) to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. In a study by Harvard Business School, it was found that increasing customer retention by even 5% can increase profits between 25-95%. So why are all of these companies spending more time and money constantly trying to attract new customers but less effort goes into figuring out why they lose customers?

This subject has always been high ranking to me.  I learned from my first job right through to my last job that if I just took the time to make sure my customers knew they were truly important to me, they would continue to want to do business with me (even if the service or product was not the lowest price available).  Here is a quote I think sums retention up best:

Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. ~ Chip Bell

I have no doubt that companies will one day evolve the full set of processes and strategies needed to create positive retention. Until then, these four forms can get you moving in the right direction:

1. Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations

  • When you are able to accurately identify and adequately meet your customers’ expectations, your customer service reputation will automatically be enhanced. Survey your customers, they will share a lot about what they need or want in order to keep coming back.  Talk to your customers face to face or over the phone.  Surveys alone will not tell you everything.

 

2. Finding Ways to Add Value

  • If you want to stand out, you have to “plus” whatever you are doing so that your customer perceives you and what you offer as being superior to that of your competitors. Create your own value added services such as offering free coffee or tea, running contests, sending personal thank you cards, or offer a discount to long term customers.

 

3. Creating Social and Structural bonds

  • The company should try to begin a long standing commitment. In order to create bonds in business, you must embrace the customer for the whole lifecycle. Making the sale is the beginning of the relationship.  Treat the act of keeping your customers as important as getting them!  Invite customers to company functions, create forums for customer participation.

 

4. Building Customer Engagement

  • Customer Engagement is an on-going dialogue. It means listening to customers and making them feel that they truly matter. It is important to relate to our customers on a personal level and reach out to them on a regular basis to find out what they like or what you can improve on.  Determine whether a loyalty program might work well, which could also increase you revenue. If customers become friends, they recommend you.

Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visit www.bygeorgecoaching.com  or call 215-738-5289.

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Can You Name Your Personal Core Values?

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Core Values are beliefs that anchor our lives.  They are the things that mean the most to us, the non-negotiable characteristics that best describe who we are.

Can you name your personal Core Values?  When was the last time you reviewed or updates these values?

Values stem from our beliefs and convictions, which then guide and direct our behaviors.  Our Core Values support or reinforce us in how we live our lives. They are the essence of who each of us are, the foundation of our unique self-expression. Values help us to act with integrity, and when our life priorities are aligned with our values, we are well on our way to experiencing fulfillment in our lives.

Internal turmoil can be the result of opposing core values either with others or within ourselves. People often leave an organization because their personal values no longer match the corporate vision and values of the company. Therefore, we want to make sure there is a match between our personal values and our own business values. Once you know your values, you can create a plan or vision for your business based around these values.

 

Take time to identify your core values:

  • What are the values you live by now?

  • What are the values you would like to live by?

  • How would you like to see each value manifest in your life and your business/career?

 

Here is a sample:

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Whatever values a person has will help paint the picture of the life that person wants to live. What a person holds up as important on the inside ends up being reflected, just like a mirror, in the physical world around them. But if a person is not living in alignment with their values, a disconnect between who they are on the inside and the life they are living on the outside is then created. This disconnect can easily zap a person’s energy and derail them for their goals and dreams.

 

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Make a list of your core values.

  2. Make your mission your priority.

  3. Create a picture of what your mission looks like completed.

  4. Clearly state the qualities you will demonstrate.

  5. Make your decisions based on your values and the end results you want.

  6. Revisit your values and vision periodically.

  7. Live every day based on what you have decided to be the most important in your life.

 

Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visit www.bygeorgecoaching.com or call 215-738-5289.

 

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How to Achieve Work-Life Balance (Yes, it IS possible!)

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One of the biggest challenges most people have with balancing their work lives with their personal lives is that they think the two are separate. They aren’t…

It’s all about living.

The pursuit of work-life balance is really about having every aspect of your life — professional and personal — be meaningful and aligned with your values and your goals.

 

So what exactly is Work-Life Balance?

 Work-Life Balance is all about honoring your goals and your values. It is defined as prioritizing your work and personal lives by utilizing the concepts of time management and resource management.  This simply means learning how to divide our time between what is important to us. Work-Life Balance is essential to managing your stress and will change over time as it will always be an ongoing issue to be managed. Work-Life Balance is not a “One Size Fits All” because each of us has different priorities and lead different lives. It is a clear that everyone can achieve work-life balance and these people who have found work-life balance in their professional and personal lives are happier, healthier, and more productive.

 

So what are the Signs of an Imbalanced Life?

  • Poor Health
  • Poor Performance
  • Conflicts at Home and Work
  • Burnout- unable to meet demands and overwhelmed
  • Loss of Interest/ Lack of Emotions
  • Lack of Close Relationships

 

Here are Some Habits you Can Put into Place to Achieve Work-Life Balance:

  • Do not Cheat Your Sleep
  • Prioritize with Time Blocking
  • Schedule Everything that Matters: Self Care, Family, Work, Play, Rest, and Plan your day in Advance.
  • Develop the Habit of Saying No
  • Practice the Art of Quitting
  • Feed Your Mind
  • Have Tech Free Time
  • Use Your Vacation Days
  • Reflect on your Life and adjust regularly- What is most important to you now at this time in your life?

 

Here is an Easy Way to Assess Yourself:

Work-Life Balance Chart

 

Ultimately, being persistent involves taking action and constantly reviewing and adjusting your strategy to guide you in becoming more successful in your business endeavors and personal lives. Don’t quit unless it makes sense!

Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visitwww.bygeorgecoaching.com or call 215-738-5289.

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Why Emotional Intelligence is Critical to Become an Effective Leader

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          We can all agree that confidence, knowledge, motivation and charisma are often the qualities that we seek when looking for a leader. When we look around at those who define the true meaning of leadership we can always sense that they have that extra something that we can’t quite put our finger on, but indefinitely makes them stand out among the rest. That something is Emotional Intelligence.

         E.I. is defined by “the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us”. Thinking about all the leaders that surround you, wouldn’t you agree that this is a quality they all share? It is why they are successful in influencing and inspiring those around them.  Truly great leaders identify, understand, and not only manage their own emotions, but are able to do that with others in a very empowering way. It is critical to have a high level of emotional intelligence to become an effective leader. Now, don’t get discouraged because you too possess this quality… you just have to master it.

Here are the 4 fundamental attributes of Emotional Intelligence:

 Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness is about knowing ourselves and being able to assess our own emotions and understand why we respond a certain way to a situation. Then learn to understand how others respond to us and our impact on them.

Self-Management

Self-Management is our ability to control our impulse feelings.  It is our ability to act in changing situations while staying positive without reacting to them quickly

Social Awareness

Social Awareness is the ability to perceive other people’s emotions and behaviors. It is about having compassion, empathy, and always being a team player.

Relationship Management

Relationship Management is the ability to help others shine and is the most important of all. This creates transformational leaders who help collaborate everyone’s ideas. It is the ability to resolve conflicts in a positive manner and to make decisions in challenging situations. It creates good communicators and gives you the ability to draw others to you and engage your group and/or audience.

 

Here is what you can do to increase your Emotional Intelligence:

  • Learn to identify your emotions and understand why you are feeling this way and how your emotions are impacting others.
  • Increase your ability to control your emotions and inner state in situations so that decisions can still be made and projects can get completed.
  • HELP OTHER PEOPLE SHINE.
  • Ask more questions, be a better listener, make eye contact and use the right body language.
  • Build confidence in not letting your emotions lead you but you leading your emotions.
  • Identify emotions in a group setting. Show more empathy and compassion.
  • Sell without attachment and be comfortable helping with delayed reactions.
  • Smile more!

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6 Powerful Tips to Improve Persistence, Drive Success

“Often the struggler has given up, when he might have captured the victor’s cup.” That is a line from a favorite inspirational poem of mine, “Don’t Quit.”

For more than two decades I have gained strength from the powerful words in that poem. I have carried it with me and referred to it often when difficult obstacles came along.

The ability to press on, to persist and persevere in the face of adversity is what determines if we will succeed or fail. Oftentimes people stop too soon. A bump in the road morphs into a road closure.

As a business and leadership development coach, I try to impress upon people that in order to embrace a higher level of performance we must first build our confidence, increase our courage, and understand what persistence is and how we can strengthen it.

Regardless of your background, whether you are a small business owner, executive, a stay-at-home mom, or something altogether different, persistence is powerful. Having it will turn a quitter into a survivor.

But, what if being persistent is not inherent in you? What if you are not born with this ability?

That’s OK. Perseverance is a skill we develop for our continued success to overcome those obstacles that come along that cause us to procrastinate or not follow through on what we truly want to accomplish.

These tips might be helpful in building persistence:

  1. Decide what success means to you. Knowing how you define success will help in growing your persistence and staying focused.  Focus on what you want to become. What will you have when you accomplish your goal?
  2. Make it a habit. Develop the discipline and patience to review your results and adapt your steps when needed. Practice this regularly and it will become a habit.
  3. Be patient. We need to see the valuable lesson in each temporary failure or setback and expect them. Then use this information to become more persistent. Do not succumb to frustration.
    Review your plans for success. As obstacles come up, overcome them one at a time.  Then review your original goal and determine if you should stay on the current path or tweak it. Once you learn that you can get through each struggle, you can handle any obstacle that comes your way.
  4. Identify what causes your procrastination. Develop a strategy for moving through it. Get support.  It’s easier to follow through with commitments when you have encouragement and someone to be accountable to. Are you aiming for perfection rather than success? Set reasonable standards for yourself.
  5. Challenge yourself. When we take on the courage to challenge ourselves more in life, we feel more confident and begin to perform at a higher level and achieve our potential. We grow ourselves when we step outside our comfort zones. Build your courage to triumph.

Ultimately, being persistent involves taking action and constantly reviewing and adjusting our strategy to guide us in becoming more successful in our business endeavors and personal lives. Don’t quit unless it makes sense.

Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visit www.bygeorgecoaching.com or call 215-738-5289.

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