Why being late for appointments can be so expensive

Young businessman with a briefcase and glasses running in a city street on a background of red brick wall. concept of rapid career

So, you are a bit late for a business meeting but it should be okay, right? It is only a few minutes and besides it was not really your fault was it? The traffic was worse than you expected, that last e-mail was important and the people you are meeting are normally laid back and friendly so they will probably cut you some slack. The meeting can start without you and you can quickly get up to speed, right?

Do not be so sure.

Business people are busy. We have to make rapid and often automatic decisions about the world in general and the people we interact with in order to stay sane and make sense of the world. Everybody does this.

We put great store in first impressions. You need to make your first impression a good one.

It would be nice to suppose that first impressions are formed by a person analysing all parameters in any given situation then making a rational and intellectual front of brain decision about the meaning and next steps. Perhaps the process might follow this route: “My appointment is late so I will check the internet and determine if there are potential traffic problems. Perhaps a flat tyre or important family matter? I’m sure there will be a good reason for it and I will happily bide my time in order to find out what they have to offer me once they get here. I’m sure the other people here will reach the same conclusion.”

It would be nice but in the real world it does not happen like this at all.

All first impressions are formed in our old or reptile brain and a summary report gets sent higher only after being screened here first. First impressions happen fast and they have durability too. Whether good or bad, this summary report lodges in the reptile brain. It is hard to get it rewritten once it is in there.

The old reptile brain is not very sophisticated but it is there to protect us. It is the seat of the flight or fight response. It checks for danger or threats. Its mission is also to prevent us wasting time and resources and to stop us using up valuable higher processing functions when it feels we do not have to.

For people who value and respect their time meeting someone who has a different view of time is a trigger. Someone who is late is perceived as a threat. Someone who is late equates to someone who will waste valuable resources. The negative report gets sent; it carries a lot of weight and it endures. The reptile brain has a number of such triggers. Other people have them too so you need to work hard to create good first impressions yourself.

I am a busy man and I place great store in punctuality. Timeliness is a key measure in determining whether I will work with someone or not when I meet with them or interact with them for the first time. Time respect is one of my key values. I will do everything in my power to ensure I arrive at places ahead of time in order to prepare and provide a professional first impression. I expect others to do the same for me.

Lateness indicates a number of fundamental things to me: Lack of care for self and others, chaotic and disorganised, untrustworthy, disrespectful, unreliable and arrogant. The list could and does go on. I do not want to work with people who exhibit these traits no matter what they have to offer. This will cost them money and gain them a poor reputation. If you do this it will be costing you money. Would I refer you to others? Unlikely.

Am I actually right about that person? Perhaps not but it does not matter. I simply do not have the time to apply my neo-cortex or my patience to the issue. Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Maybe I am but my reptile brain has detected the threat and sent the report and that is what I have to go on. These are my perceptions and, as for all humans, perception is reality. I have to make fast decisions in order to be successful and I am not alone.

Now, we cannot help events which are truly out of our hands of course but unless you are actually in grave mortal peril I would like to be informed of your time status and even have the meeting rescheduled rather than have you show up late. I can then do something more productive with my time. We have mobile phones now and you must at least have written my number down as part of your preparation.

Some people use lateness as a power play. They feel it elevates their status in some way and therefore lowers mine. I tend to walk away from these people and leave them to it because there are plenty of business people out there who are punctual and a genuine pleasure to deal with.

When I feel a person has respected my time I tend to respect them more.

We all know at least one person who is chronically late all the time. They would be late for their own funeral as the saying goes. They are probably beyond help. If this is you then you are probably beyond help too.

If you are only late now and again there is hope. Get a grip and take control of your approach to time. Get coaching if it helps. At least get a good alarm clock. Even if it goes against your normal preference you must show others you can respect their time if not your own. If you do not it could cost you far more than you think.

You are sending behavioural messages all the time so send good ones whenever possible. What other poor first impressions might you be making? What do you look for when you meet someone for the first time and why?

To get the low-down on effective people management skills check out my Amazon author page http://viewauthor.at/AndrewDPope and see my full current range of no nonsense business and self-development books. The list is growing all the time so watch this space.

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What exactly is assertiveness?

I have mentioned assertiveness quite a few times in recent articles but what is it and do you even need it?

Assertiveness is one of those things everyone has heard about but no-one can easily define. We are often told to be more assertive but what exactly does this mean? What are we supposed to do more of? How assertive are we right now?

Your level of assertiveness and comfort when being assertive can have a big effect on your overall management and leadership style so this stuff is important.

There are many on-line self-evaluation questionnaires available so if you want to find out your current level of assertiveness or your preferred interpersonal or influencing style then feel free to try them out. As with most things in life, there can be good or bad and free or paid for; take your pick.

There are four main classifications of influencing style of which assertiveness is but one:

  • Assertive
  • Passive
  • Hostile-aggressive
  • Manipulative-aggressive (aka passive-aggressive)

Passive is a type characterised by an “I must lose and you must win” attitude.

Hostile aggressive is an influencing style characterised by an “I must win and you must lose” mentality.

The last influencing style listed is termed manipulative-aggressive or passive-aggressive and this type is characterised by an “I must lose so you must lose” mindset.

All of these styles are on a continuum and we all exhibit the different traits in different degrees at various times in our lives. Categories are useful but in the real world people are not so easily defined. Over the long-term it is likely we will favour one style over the others. Even if you are not sure, ask your trusted colleagues and they will tell you what style they think you prefer and exhibit most. It may shock you.

By and large, most of us choose to adopt the passive stance whenever possible, especially at work. You know the old “anything for a quiet life” and “why rock the boat” approach. Does the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” sound familiar?

If you are going to be a better manager then you need to be as assertive as possible. You therefore need to know what assertiveness actually is so I had better start by defining it.

For our purposes I am sure we can all reasonably agree assertiveness involves being completely clear and open about how one feels, what one needs and how it can be fairly achieved. This requires assertive communication skills, assertive body language, confidence and the ability to communicate calmly without attacking or yielding unnecessarily to another person.

Assertive people understand and believe they have a number of rights and an expectation to certain things and ways of being treated in their work. These rights and expectations come with a responsibility to accord other people the same rights and expectations. So this idea of assertiveness adheres to a win-win approach to life. Adopt an “I get what I want and you get what you want” approach and everyone is happy.

Sounds simple so why are we not all doing more of it?

We should be, because learning to be more assertive will help us to express our thoughts and feelings freely, speak up and defend ourselves, know and stand up for our rights, negotiate reasonably and control our emotions effectively during periods of interpersonal conflict. It also applies when we have to manage difficult people.

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

Wonderful infographic on “How To Master Public Speaking”

Hi there everyone

Many people suffer from the fear of public speaking and it actually has the rather grand technical name of Glossophobia.

I write quite a bit on the subject because I particularly love the written word. The thing with communication is not everyone likes to take in information in the same way. For those readers who love graphical information I have a treat for you.

master-public-speaking_fb-300x300Brought to my attention by the very lovely Lydia Bailey I am more than pleased to share it with you today.

It’s a super-interesting and super-informative infographic entitled How to Master Public Speaking” and you can access it in all its colourful glory by clicking on the image or the link shown below.

http://www.mastersprogramsguide.com/master-public-speaking/

I hope you enjoy it.

Perhaps more items like this be of interest? Let me know your thoughts.

Difficult People at Work – Part 3

Difficult People at Work – Part 3

This article takes a brief look at one difficult personality type you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team. This is one you might not think is even a problem at first.

The ultra-passive Doormat; the one who just can’t say no.

No request gets rejected in an effort to please anyone and everyone who asks them to do something. Does this make them somehow super-productive? Does this make them a dream employee? No way!

The Doormat is normally so over-subscribed and over-committed they end up pleasing no one. Doormats essentially and effectively educate those around them to take advantage of them.

Co-workers are often expected to take up any slack in order to keep the organisation, department or team in good standing. The grumbling will start and you will have to manage the fallout. This is all hugely ironic because the situation is often the direct result of the same co-workers taking advantage of The Doormat in the first place; all leading to the current overwork meltdown situation.

If you have a Doormat for a boss then are you in for a super-rough ride. They will take on too many tasks for the team, most of which cannot possibly be achieved, then to add insult to injury they will be too weak to defend the team against complaints about poor performance. Nightmare!

There are numerous other problems waiting in the wings. Doormats can be a bully magnets. They sometimes take on small but mission critical tasks without telling anyone until they drop the ball and the smelly stuff hits the rotating cooler. They may also quietly filter critical information, up or down, often with the best of intentions.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

All this happens because the Doormat does not like conflict and does not want to upset anyone.

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

Difficult People at Work – Part 2

This article takes a brief look at three manipulative-aggressive (aka passive-aggressive) personality types you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team.

The Countdown Kid is a person who is near to retirement but instead of going out gracefully and with class, is looking to work their ticket and play the organisational system for all it is worth.

At best they might be doing the barest minimum they can do to get by knowing you can apparently do little about it.

At worst they might be seeking to try and force the organisation into paying them redundancy, an early retirement deal or some other thing they feel is available and which will yield them more than mere retirement. They do not care who they have to annoy or disrupt to get it.

They are a common feature of many modern, especially large, organisations and in large part the organisations themselves have created the many opportunities for these people to play the system through overly-complex HR policies and poorly thought out historically created employment packages. Add to this new rules and regulations in HR and employment law and it is clear to see the fertile ground such people confidently operate in.

The Guilt Tripper is the person who never lets people forget the bad treatment they believe they have had at the hands of bosses and workmates. They never let facts get in the way of a good story of course so although their moaning may have some kernel of truth they will happily exaggerate and embellish. Take their stories with a big pinch of salt.

They blame everyone but themselves for their perceived misfortunes and never miss an opportunity to tell anyone unfortunate enough or daft enough to listen of their woe-filled tales.

If you do not give them a particular task or project they want they will moan on and on about how you “did the dirty on them” or “stitched them up” and generally held them back. Colleagues will get the same treatment if they are felt to have contributed to this heinous act.

They never seem to worry they might have failed to make the cut due to simple lack of merit or some other valid reason. No, it was an unfair act directed specifically and callously at them and no one else.

Like other passive-aggressive types they are adept at recognising and pushing the emotional buttons of others and guilt is a strong emotional button for most of us. They look for people who might either believe or support them or who might easily cave in to their bullying manipulative tactics. If you can smell the acrid stench of burning martyr it will likely be The Guilt Tripper.

The Control Freak is a perfectionist and as such is unwilling to and often almost incapable of delegating work to others. Even if they are capable of it they are often unwilling to do it. If The Control Freak does manage to delegate, or is forced to delegate, then they will try to micro-manage to such an extent they may as well have done it themselves anyway.

The Control Freak is consistently controlling with everyone they encounter. They cannot help themselves and will reveal their tendency despite any efforts to keep it hidden. The Control Freak is therefore relatively easy to identify and their behaviour can be extremely domineering at times (The Control Freak could well have been placed in the hostile-aggressive section).

Having The Control Freak on your team or, usually worse, having The Control Freak as your boss, can be a motivational sink hole; morale can plummet.

Make no mistake, if not properly controlled or dealt with, The Countdown Kid, The Guilt Tripper and The Control Freak, as well as a host of other subversive and manipulative personality types, are dangerous to the morale and mental well-being of both you and the staff on your team or in your department.

Both the hostile-aggressive personalities, mentioned in the previous article, and the manipulative-aggressive personalities mentioned in this article, are bullies. Take a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. Assertively stamp it out. Either turn it around, neutralise it or eliminate it entirely before the toxic types, who use bullying as a weapon, take control of your working world.

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

Difficult People at Work – Part 1

This article takes a brief look at three hostile-aggressive personality types you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team.

The Big Bad Bully uses various forms of hostile-aggression in order to intimidate others into compliance or allegiance. The Big Bad Bully might use anger, open or covert threats of failure or reprisal, blackmail, ridicule, guilt and/or shame. The Big Bad Bully will essentially use whatever tactic they can to get what they want. The Big Bad Bully has no worries about arguing or embarrassing others to achieve their ends.

The Angry Diva is someone who wants to be the centre of attention all the time and always get what they want. The word Diva implies a female bias but it is just an expression. Men are just as likely to be Angry Divas as women. Whatever the gender, in their world it is all about them and woe betide anyone who thinks or says differently. Many organisations have people like this at different levels and if you are really unfortunate they are sometimes even in charge.

The Know It All. There is nothing you or anyone else can tell The Know It All. In their opinion they have seen it all and done it all. There is no room for personal growth in their world but plenty of scope for it in other people. The Know It All believes they can do or say no wrong but they will be extremely efficient and keen to point out where you and everyone else went wrong of course.

Make no mistake, if not properly controlled or dealt with, The Big Bad Bully, The Angry Diva and The Know It All are dangerous to the morale and mental well-being of both you and the staff on your team or in your department.

Managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

How to develop an intrinsically motivated working culture

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Do you want to get the best from your employees? Do you want them to be fully engaged with your business goals? Do you want to reduce staff turnover? Have you developed a motivational working culture for success within your organisation? You may well have introduced some sort of incentive scheme for rewarding people but if you think that extrinsic (from the outside) rewards like money or gifts are a driver for loyalty you need to think again. Money works up to a point but the minute more money is available elsewhere, or the employee can get a better job and survive on less, they will leave and you will suffer. Worse still, once you provide an employee with an extrinsic reward it tends to become expected and this can be very expensive. Withdrawing such extrinsic rewards can leave you worse off.

This article will give you a very simple yet powerful idea to help you start to turn things around.

If you don’t already have a motivational working culture then, as a business owner or manager, you need to consider developing one. Despite the recent and continuing recession, good people are still very mobile. Quality people can always find new jobs or even start out on their own. Can your business survive losing these good people? The bad ones then stay longer and do less and, if you only motivate with money, they just eat it up. A downward spiral ensues with only one outcome; you fail.

When you begin to develop a business with a motivational attitude you also have to develop a business with an accountability and responsibility attitude. Remember this works in both directions. Ideally, you want good employees to stay and proliferate and you want bad employees to leave. With the rewards comes the accountability and responsibility. Poor employees generally don’t like these two factors. How then do you motivate good people when money alone is not working?

The answer is to create intrinsic motivation in your employees. Intrinsic is a fancy word for from within. This means that motivation is generated by the employees themselves and anything you do is geared towards providing them with the resources and ability to create their own motivation. Sounds simple in theory but how do you go about finding out what really motivates your employees to do great work?

The most direct and simple way is to simply ask them. Ask them one to one, anonymously, via online survey or whatever else it takes. The important thing is to do it. You may be surprised with the answers you get but run with them. People are motivated by some surprising things. Consider honestly what really motivates you. Is it always money? Pick the most common things they mention and start with them. You won’t please everyone of course and some will always favour money over all else. Remember, if the things you try don’t work as planned you can always try something else. At least you’re moving forward. In fact, if you can get the majority of the workforce engaged with the whole process right from the start, you will find your motivational program designs itself over a relatively short timescale and with a high level of employee buy-in and resulting benefits for all. You need to trust the process and trust your people.

Here is the part that many businesses don’t get, however, and it is the bit that involves the nurturing and supporting of your staff to attain the rewards. If you are rewarding people intrinsically then you are gaining as a business and they are gaining as individuals. You also have to back up your staff when you make them accountable and responsible. Provide your people with the tools, training and confidence they need to take on the responsibility and accountability. Here is the real key to it all in my opinion. Be aware that allowing your people to make mistakes is the way forward; as long as you and they can learn from those mistakes. Don’t set people up to fail. Set them up to succeed.

This idea is simple. The results can be powerful. It will take time and investment. Make the investment.

Become a business with an intrinsically motivated working culture and you will be both amazed and amazing. Remember, just ask.

For more information about my work as a communications coach and trainer come visit and explore my website