Handling problem people

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Strange, when running courses every now and again a certain topic crops up regularly and you start to wonder why. The request we have had most recently is the title of this piece and, bizarrely, it’s seldom what it seems. (Oh, improving grammar is another one but more of that next time.)

This links to recent research which has suggested that we are very dependent on our tablets and phones (apparently people check their phones 5 times an hour and even during intimate moments, and we don’t mean going to the washroom, as they politely call it in America!) so much so that an average person spends NINE HOURS A DAY (yes, we HAD to use capitals there) on their phone or tablet.

And what does that have to do with problem people? Or is it about the inability to handle people (obviously)? These “problem people” appear as customers, staff and managers and, if you think about it, that covers everyone except for the company cats (who can look after themselves).

Boils down, it’s about assertiveness.

Assertiveness is important in lots of performance and therefore lots training we are asked to do; there is obviously Time Management (saying “no” to requests but never people) but also in note taking (yes, honest), customer care, presentations, training, running meetings and, well, most courses we happen to run for customers (as I have said if you were paying attention). And it is often the barrier to individual success.

Why? Well, let’s connect our phones to our lives (or, in some cases, let’s disconnect!).

Yes, we now spend more time NOT interacting directly with real people face-to-face than we do electronically and that is going to have, if it hasn’t already hasn’t, an impact. This terrible dependence on the phone and tablet mans that, in some cases, we are now dictated to by these electronic servants. (Which reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure: “The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart Goes all decorum”. A comment about why there is chaos and anarchy.)

Leaving Shakespeare to his folios, research this year showed that the average time for going into a restaurant and sitting down to eat has increased by around 20%. This is being put down to the fact that people CHECK THEIR PHONES as soon as they enter the restaurant.

So, whilst people get irritated within 8 seconds of seeing a queue, when it comes to restaurants, this has changed. Instead of demanding to be served, people want to check their calls, their messages, cats dancing on the interweb, etc, rather than sit down drink and eat.

Proof that people are dictated to by their phone. They are slaves to technology, they won’t turn it off or leave it alone. An average person checks their phone 150 times every day. Even on Christmas Day. When it comes to phones, they become passive, controlled by the paranoia that they may be missing something, which they are of course: they are missing real life.

Lack of real face-to-face contact can lead to a lack of assertiveness and being a slave to technology will have the same impact.

NINE HOURS A DAY (yes, we HAD to use capitals there again) is more than most people sleep and most people now sleep with their phones by their side, waking to check if they have any messages. (Again, bad for time management and stress; we need quality sleep to perform well in our role.)

And 60% of parents worry that their children are spending too much time on small screens yet, ironically, often do that worrying from behind their own screen.

Lack of real face-to-face contact can lead to a lack of assertiveness and being a slave to technology will have the same impact.

Research also shows that by depriving 11-12 years olds of smart phones and tablets for 5 days makes them better at reading people’s emotions. Or, to put it another way, if you leave 11-12 year olds behind their smart phones and tablets, they will be socially inept. Harsh but true.

We in training have sensibly looked to speed up skills and knowledge take-up by transferring learning away from the human into the virtual worlds. Often, this is effective but it can never take the place of instructor led training for certain areas (e.g. communication) though it should be blended in to the overall approach (we’re not Luddites, after all!). But, beware, if you are solely driven by virtual training you may just be missing a trick.

Obviously, you can’t lay all of the blame on tablets and phones (I always blame the parents, who are humans). However, getting people to “put them down and talk and have eye contact” (which makes me sound like a very old fashioned parent) just may be good advice. We like the restaurants who have taken to advertising the fact that they don’t have wi-fi, “you’ll just have to talk to each other” and the one that locks up phones and the like in a cupboard as you enter, which means you eat quicker even though you have to talk to each other. And it may just make people more assertive.

Communication is what assertiveness is all about. To be assertive, you need to control situations, you need to be able to make the right choices and you will certainly not learn to do this from staring at your mobile device. You may learn something by looking at the human being in front of you.

It’s time to be assertive with the mobile first and then people second.

Then the problems with time management, communication, customer care and the like may start to dwindle.

Which may do us out of a job or two, which, when you think of it, is what training is all about…

 

 

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Training Design & Delivery of topics such as Customer Service, Note Taking, Business Writing, Presentation Skills, All Management/Team Leader areas, Sales, Sales Management, all tailored and run in-house for your personal requirements. Also, coaching and mentoring.

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