Rule 1: Welcome, be welcoming and make an effort to put your guests’ needs and comfort a top priority.
This requires listening and paying attention to social and behavioral cues and body language. Prioritizing the needs and comfort of others is the grand basis of hospitality. Everything else is a variation and details surrounding the same theme. Obviously you cannot please everyone all of the time. What you can do is make an effort to care. I believe that hospitality is a value often forgotten or put aside to make room for other priorities, and I just wanted to provide a gentle reminder of its importance. Hospitality and graciousness is a trait that helps others measure your character–it is a direct reflection of who you are as a person. In relation to communications, remember to be welcoming and to have messages that prioritize the needs and comfort of others at the forefront. You will find that your public will take you up on your welcoming statements and sentiments and will want to be associated with your brand.
Having said this, this does not mean that being edgy, abrupt, snarky, sarcastic, etc. is not valid in good communication messaging. In fact, to several audiences, this is comfort and welcoming. The point is to know your public, know what they value and know what makes them comfortable. If you care about this, genuinely care, you will have your messaging on-point.
This one is hard to believe, but not only has the BBC reported on it, the story is featuring a St. Petersburg, Florida iconic funeral home: Anderson McQueen. It’s local folks. Here’s a quote:
“Body tissue is dissolved and the liquid poured into the municipal water system. Mr Sullivan, a biochemist by training, says tests have proven the effluent is sterile and contains no DNA, and poses no environmental risk.”
Source: BBC News, Science and Environment. Link to full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14114555
My personal perspective on this one: intellectually, I’m quite certain that this method is greener than cremation and perfectly safe for the environment. However, I’m a big fan of horor/sci-fi movies like “Night of the Living Dead,” “Resident Evil” and “Soylent Green.” So, I’m just suggesting that, well, this is how these things get started.
*Limbers up and cracks open a bottle of water*
Hello All: Please check out my first published article in my weekly column on caregivers. This article coveres a bit about the roles of caregivers along with the need for self-care and detection and treatment of burnout. Help me celebrate caregiviers–true heros in our community and families! The article is published in Largo Patch and features Operation PAR Medical Director and psychiatrist Michael Sheehan: http://largo.patch.com/articles/caregivers-are-heroes-but-not-superhuman-2#comments
Caregivers are heroes — they care for our community’s most vulnerable. They care for our youngest and eldest generations, provide care and support to the sick and dying, and assist those with substance abuse or mental health disorders and developmental or physical disabilities. These are the family members, friends, professionals, paraprofessionals and volunteers there for us during the most difficult and trying times of our lives.
Although caregivers are heroes, they are not superheroes. They are prone to sickness, depression, sleep deprivation and neglecting other physical, emotional and spiritual needs for themselves. They give of themselves but too often forget to give back to themselves to stay physically and mentally healthy. Self care is the most neglected and important thing a caregiver must do.
Voice is critical–when you communicate, your voice is what is remembered. Not what you said but how you said it. Your voice also will determine if your message(s) will be remembered, absorbed and if any action will be taken as part of that communication. What is voice? It is the difference between ordering someone to do something you need done versus convincing someone that they want to come on board and help you champion a shared cause. Your voice, your authentic voice, the one particular to you, is your gut and instincts combined with your inspiration and heart speaking on behalf of your head and ego. Let it sing. Your voice is you.
Communication: Remain open. Open to receive new messages in new ways and to be openly responsive to the messages of others. Remain open to new ideas, especially if you find them challenging. Your first job is to actively listen. You can communicate back with far greater effectiveness when you first grasp then respond to the needs and messages of your audience. They will know you are communicating with them versus at them.
If you want to stay ahead of the game, let your public know that your eye is on innovation and change. What is your vision? No, I am not speaking of a vision statement here–what you or your company would like the world to look like in some utopia. I’m talking about what you or your company is doing today to create change by being innovative. What do you and your public want? Make them understand that you not only both want the same things, but that you and your company are 100% committed to getting what you want, together. Here are some strategies to make that happen:
- Ask your public what they want. No, really. Ask them. Conduct focus groups, send out surveys, conduct social networking polls and discussions, get a buzz started and engage in conversations. Know your public well, develop relationships with them and find out exactly what they want. Hint: It may not be exactly what they say they want, but by knowing them you’ll learn things about them that will reveal a lot about their true vision to you. The purpose here is not just to get people to say what’s on their mind but to get them to say the things they don’t want to say, to tell you things they don’t know they know and to help you and your business reveal trends and needs that isn’t the most obvious. This can help you change a product or service in just the right way that you’re called genius, an innovator and intuitive. In fact, you will be,
- Listen. Yes, do listen to your public and also listen to your competitors, partners, colleagues, employees/staff, etc. Listen with a critical ear. Weed out the insults and compliments and hear solutions and opportunities for change. If you’ve always done things a certain way, don’t hesitate to examine if “that way” is really the best effective way now, today, responsive to current needs and goals. Listen to the people around you and welcome suggestions and resolutions. Discourage negativity that isn’t overwhelmingly overshadowed with solutions and forward-thinking.
- Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make those changes happen. Begin aligning your products and services to be responsive to what your public wants and needs. Make your vision and their vision not only a shared vision but a shared reality. Develop strategic plans, product plans and service delivery plans that answer the new vision you’ve discovered. Document how each change is responsive to the new vision and determine how you will measure this effectiveness.
- Pilot. If possible, try a pilot release, and measure its effectiveness against a control group of the old way of doing things. Use diverse demographics or contain it among a specific target market, but keep it manageable so that you can examine the modifications and determine if they truly are effective or if aspects can still be tweaked to increase effectiveness. If changes are needed, make them and measure again. The quicker you roll through this process, the stronger your business will be. Learning to be flexible is key here and will benefit any business in the long-run.
- Wide release. Let it go. Send your vision out to your public, and let them know that it is of them and for them. That while these changes are based on their feedback and ideas, you are still open to continued innovation and want to know more about their wants, needs and vision. That you are committed to being responsive to them for as long as you are in business.
- Communicate. Not market. Use platforms that will allow you to engage in two-way conversations. You can buy ads and organize publicity, but most important is customer service and interaction. Make certain that every human representing your company is on the same page, communicating the same messages and collecting information towards progressive change. Bring your clients and customers into your communications strategy, demonstrating that your method of communication is one-on-one. No matter how small or large your business is, you not only make time for your customers and clients, you are in business for your customers and clients and they know it.
- Do it. Communicate by doing. Make sure your messages and actions are mirror images of one another. Your public will pay more attention to what you do than what you say, but if you can avoid contradictions between the two, ultimately you will arrive at trust. Trust that your business and your public share the same vision. Trust is priceless.