“Dress for the …

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Oh really? Let’s play out this recommendation in real life. Let’s say the job I want is that of an eccentric billionaire…and the job I have is lifeguard at the local pool. Well I gotta tell you, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to tread water in this three piece suit and top hat. See, the problem with this stupid quote is that it assumes the job you have is somewhere in the realm of the job you want. But assuming your goal in life is not to become manager at whatever depressing hourly wage job you’re stuck at this summer, dressing for the job you actually want is more likely to get you fired than promoted. They’re not coming to the strip club to see you dressed as a kindergarten teacher. Wait. Nevermind, bad example…

Excerpt from:  http://www.collegehumor.com/post/5233204/five-quotes-people-should-really-stop-using

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Fox News: Obama and Syria

Judge Jeanine on Obama and Syria

Judge Jeanine: “Now, let me see if I understand this… We’re looking to bomb Syria because of an alleged chemical attack, risking a potential face off with Iran and Russia, in a move that will ultimately benefit WHO?!

ME: CHINA!

Judge Jeanine: “Al-Qaeda!

ME: OOOPS! 😛

The Glory of Winning

“Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them” – Napoleon Bonaparte

This is a bitter pill to swallow for a person with a strongly held belief that people should only be recognized for actually doing something and that recognizing people who did not do anything but just exist and hold a position, is rewarding bad behavior.

However, after working for 3 companies for a while, I have been a witness to how true the above quote is.  I posted the above status in Facebook yesterday to remind myself of this fact all the while hoping that I get the “serenity to accept things I cannot change”.

At the end of the day, there are really two kinds of people in the workplace: those who work and those who take the credit.  I keep reminding myself that  I would always want to be in the first group; there is less competition there and I get to keep my self respect. 🙂

The above quote may have unintentionally struck a chord for some people.  It did for me because it keeps me realistic; it reminds me of the realities of life.  It’s no use railing against this fact and after thinking about it, it’s not important enough that I would want to take the lead in changing this “institution”.  As they say, “pick your battles!” If people get their pleasure out of receiving accolades regardless of how it came about, then good for them!  As I always say, to each his/her own.  Live and let live.  No one owes anyone an explanation. 🙂

The 5 Smartest Things to Say to an Angry Customer

Forget trying to “win.” Instead, make the customer feel you’re working together to make things right.

For all the money you spend training your customer service staff, the essence of what you need them to do boils to five key phrases. Teach them these, and you’ll find you’ll win back most of your disgruntled customers.

Let’s start with the most important phrase, which also happens to be the simplest:

“I’m sorry.”

Oh yeah, your legal team is waving red flags. “We can’t admit fault,” they say. “We should never imply something is wrong.” My response, “Ignore them.” Read on.

Any time a customer is forced to call your support line, your company has likely failed in some way—either the product or service is actually flawed, the documentation wasn’t clear, or the customer’s expectations weren’t well-managed by marketing or sales. 

You might be thinking, “What about those customers who mistreat products and then want their money back?” Toss that thought. I’m not saying that customers never mangle the merchandise. Of course they do. What I am saying is that no customer plans to become disgruntled. I’ve never heard of anyone purposely spending money on a product or service on the outside chance they might win an argument with a customer service rep three months down the road. Even if someone did, it would  be such a rare occurrence that you would never want to design your entire customer relations philosophy around it.

Besides, an apology isn’t a confession of culpability. It’s a statement of compassion. A sincere apology tells your customer that you regret his having to interrupt his day to make that call. An apology defuses the situation and can allow for a conversation in which you get an opportunity to diagnose what went wrong, with the possibility of preventing similar future problems. And, that brings me to the second  more important thing to say,

“We’re going to solve this together.”

When your customers decide to purchase your product or service, they commit to a financial relationship with you. When problems arise, they want to know that you’re willing to listen and aren’t going to run for the door. A positive statement that you are willing to work with them to find a solution, rather than being their adversary, begins a conversation that can be your best insurance against that customer going rogue and blasting you on the Internet.

“What would you consider a fair and reasonable solution?”

Why this isn’t the first question out of every support person’s mouth amazes me. Asking a customer what she would consider a decent deal creates a starting place for negotiation, sets the expectation level (fair and reasonable), and asks her to make the first offer for an amicable agreement. Besides, you might be pleasantly surprised by her answer. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard from customers who initially would have been pleased with just an apology. (See above.)

Watch out for alternate phrasing such as “How can I make you happy?” or “How can I help you?” They can sound patronizing or appear to minimize the importance of a complaint. Besides, the obvious answer always is, “You need to convince me that I didn’t make a mistake by spending my money with your company.”

“Are you satisfied with our solution, and will you consider doing business with us in the future?”

This isn’t the same as “Have I taken good care of you today?” or “Have all of your questions been answered?” The goal of every support needs to be greater than just solving the immediate problem. The real measure of the success will be whether you’ve managed to preserve the investment you’ve already made in a customer. If the answer to either side of the question is “No”, you’ve still got work to do.

“Thank you.”

At first glance, it may seem like your customer should be the one expressing gratitude. But think about it. In his mind, he paid for a product or service that didn’t perform as expected, and was then required to spend professional or personal time to work out a remedy. On the other hand, you’ve likely gained important information about product performance and how customers perceive your company. In my mind, that’s certainly worth a “thank you.”

These phrases are not magic bullets that will solve all your customer service conflicts. They are simply a framework for collaborative problem solving and collectively present an attitude of “We’re in this together” rather than “We’re out to win.” That kind of cooperative approach minimizes the number of combative customer interactions and more often results in satisfactory solutions.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

—–
Written by Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook (1988), was the guest-of-honour at a recent NTU convocation ceremony. This was his speech to the graduating class of 2008.
—–

I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.

I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.

You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.

Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.

So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.

Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.

After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.

That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.

What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.

Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.

The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.

I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.

I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.
You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.

You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

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