Don’t Slap Your Clients

Recently, I was in a meeting. Pretty exciting and unique, right? Well, it actually was a productive meeting for PeopleSmarts. We are helping one of our clients adjust to the current economic situation and prepare them for their future. Near the close of the meeting, one of the attendees made a wry comment that somewhat implicating PeopleSmarts as the cause of some of our clients troubles. Mind you, this was our first meeting with said client, so there isn’t much we could have done to help them before that meeting.

Regardless of the intent and accuracy of the comment, I felt a sudden urge to upbraid this individual, but luckily the EQ skill of Impulse Control stepped in first. Merrilee was also there and did a great job to acknowledge the comment, but minimized its ridiculousness by focussing on the future.

How many times have you seen people not control their impulses and it has been a bad situation? How have you used this EQ skill in your life? I’d love to hear about them…




I recently spent 10 days on a river rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with a group of people whom I had not previously met. Most were friends of a friend; the opportunity to float and run rapids through 200-plus miles of nature’s grandeur was more compelling to me than knowing the crowd I would be communing with through the experience. I must say that I was delighted to find the group a warm and welcoming bunch who made the adventure, for me, a life-changing experience altogether. (But more about that in another post.)

Of the 16 people who embarked on this journey, about two-thirds were what I have come to call “green-collar workers”; that is, their education and careers were focused on protecting, restoring and preserving the environment. There were fish biologists, environmental engineers, restoration specialists, waste experts, species protectors, grant writers and river regulators.  Many of them worked in state or federal government positions in Oregon, California or Utah. For me, it was enlightening to spend time with and learn from people who really understood the issues of our environment from an educated and experienced place, not just from what they had read in the papers or heard on the evening news.

In my usual circles, talking about “EQ” seems an obvious reference to emotional intelligence, or what we often term “the street smarts of business success”. In this group, however, when I mentioned “EQ”, their most common reference point was “environmental quality”. In conversations about our various backgrounds and interests, I could tell instantly by their puzzled looks that we were not speaking the same language. Finally, (duh!) I recognized the discrepancy, and in the same moment nearly fell out of the boat laughing from a lightning bolt of insight. (Which, of course, puzzled them even more.)


Emotional Intelligence = Environmental Quality. (Now wait, you say. You’ve lost me.)

Think about it this way: When I ask people what they want and like most about their jobs, the most common answers I get are something like this:

“Working with good people.”

“Having a pleasant place to work.”

“Working with people who support and encourage me.”

“Feeling like I am making a difference in people’s lives.”

The environments in which we work are influenced more by the people who work there than the bricks and mortar that surround us.  “Environmental Quality”, while most often associated with water, land, air and species preservation, may also be a description of our workplace energy, culture, communication and camaraderie. And  well-developed EQ (emotional intelligence) may be the most significant contributor to EQ (environmental quality) in our workplaces.

How’s the EQ of your workplace?

Last week i was in Chicago’s O’Hare International and ventured into the baggage office, where disgruntled passengers end up without anything to wear tomorrow – literally.  Likely the worst place to work in the entire airport.  You never have a happy customer enter your office.

I watched two different representatives say almost identical words and phrases to the dozens of passengers, but with very different results.  The most effective went something like this:

CustomerA :  “how could you lose my bag!”   I have a meeting in the morning and NEED it!” 

RepA:  “I am very sorry.  (sincere empathy)  The bag did not make the flight (reality).  There is a flight at X:XX time tonight, i will have it to your hotel by 7am.   Here is an overnight kit, discount on future flights, etc…”

The customer did not or could not complain any more.  THe rep did all he could to solve the issue, had explained the reality of the situation and apologized.  The customer left satisfied with the outcome, not happy but satisfied.

A few minutes later i watched nearly the same customer interaction with another individual:

CustomerB:  “how could you lose my bag!”   I have a meeting in the morning and NEED it!” 

RepB:  “Sorry.   There is a flight at X:XX time tonight, i will have it to your hotel by 7am.   Here is an overnight kit, discount on future flights, etc…”

This customer’s response “THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE”   and proceeded to scream and yell about all things wrong with the world.

Two things i noted. 

1.  The words between Rep A and Rep B were almost identical.  But Rep A was much more effective and seemed to genuinely care.   Rep B used the script, but did not connect with the customer as an individual. 

2. Each customer a choice in how they would deal with the interaction and the reality of the situation at hand.  While i think the airline rep played a HUGE role in the outcome of the nearly identical situations, Customer B obviously accepted the invitation to have their day ruined by the event.

Connect with us

First of all, thank you for following along with us here on our blog. Whether you’re a regular reader or this is your first time here, we appreciate the time you take to read our thoughts and comments.

We have been working recently on giving our followers as much information about PeopleSmarts as possible. We are on FacebookTwitter and YouTube sharing and engaging with you to bring you the best free content relating to EQ. If you haven’t yet followed us in these social media, we invite you to connect with us.

Something that I’m particularly excited about is our how well this blog is going. If you aren’t reading regularly, you’re missing out. Each week our trainers and consultants post their up-to-date and relevant experiences and thoughts. You could even consider it insider information, since the PeopleSmarts team will commonly discuss new products, services, offerings and general news via the blog. If you’re looking to be on the bleeding-edge of what business will look like tomorrow, the PeopleSmarts blog is a can’t miss experience.

We have a handful of other exciting things in the pipeline that we’re working on. I am excited for you to see them. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback regarding the ways we are reaching out via social media.



A while back, I had the opportunity to propose a big advertising spend to an executive committee. This campaign was to run on some popular social media sites where the advertiser hadn’t officially been before. Because of the EQ skill of assertiveness (the ability to express feelings, beliefs, and thoughts and defend one’s rights in a nondestructive manner), I spoke clearly and succinctly to the audience and got the proposal passed with flying colors.

Regardless of the outcome of the proposal getting accepted or rejected, having the ability to express myself and the research and knowledge that I had, made the difference in this situation. Like all of the other 14 EQ skills that we consult on, being positively assertive is a great trait to have in any situation.

FlexibilityRecently, at an EQnomics Series “Pulling the Stress Plug” event I discovered at the last minute that the LCD projector’s cords were not in the bag. I realized one of my colleagues may have inadvertently put them in her/his laptop bag at their last presentation. While normally, I would double-check the cord was there, however, this time being in a hurry I neglected to do so assuming “It’s been there every time and so, of course, it’s in the bag now”. This minor omission of cords left me unable to do a major part of the visual presentation including the really cool HeartMath® bio-feedback computer demo. This was frustrating and no one at the venue had extra cords. What to do?

First of all, a little background first. I have been speaking, training and presenting for over 15 years. I believe strongly in caring for my participants’ experience and their time by presenting high impact, fun, informative, practical and memorable presentations. I do this in part through meticulous and careful preparation. Thus, for every presentation I have contingency plans, built-in equipment/material redundancy, and an over-preparation mindset. For example, I bring extra extension cords, a power strip, black gaffers tape for taping down cords and loose table draping, my own folding fabric screen as some venues have projection screens that are too small for optimal visual impact, fresh dry-erase markers, and so on. I also prepare additional activities as back-ups so we can then draw on other approaches in case we discover that the feel and/or needs of the group have changed. Further, I balance this careful planning with being comfortable with presenting on the fly, and being flexible for whatever may arise for the inherent differences of each venue.

So, what to do? The solution was simple. The training that day was “Pulling the Stress Plug.” I figured, what a great opportunity to model the EQ skill of Stress Tolerance through the EQ skills of Flexibility and Problem Solving. So, while disappointed for a brief moment of not being able to offer the presentation as planned, the EQ skill of Flexibility allowed me to adjust to the situation. Flexibility reminded me that the way things are planned do not necessarily determine the way things actually are. As a result I was immediately able to re-write my presentation and approach in my mind and move forward with a great workshop without any perceived hitches. Preparedness (through content and experience to draw from) aids flexibility greatly.

The outcome? Rather than being stressed, I saw it as an opportunity to adjust, adapt and offer the participants other great approaches to manage their stress. The EQ skill of Flexibility helped me see solutions and opportunities to enjoy instead of just a problem to endure.

So, call me at 801.787.8014 or email me at jonathan@peoplesmarts.biz and we’ll arrange a free and fun no-strings attached Training Demo on any of the great EQ Skills to help your team more effectively manage the stresses they experience.

Jonathan Sherman
Director of Training and Development

We recently exhibited and presented a workshop at the CFO Rising West conference in Las Vegas. The conference was held at a J.W. Marriott. We stayed nearby at a typical Las Vegas Casino/Hotel.

It was interesting to compare the two hotels that we were in and out of throughout the week. Because of this isolated experience, I came to some untested conclusions:

Chain hotels don’t do casinos. This may be because it would be counter to their philosophy and mission. Most chains are concerned with customer service. They want to ensure that the customer is comfortable, happy and taken care of. This is how it felt at the Marriott. It was simple to get from the parking area to the reservation desk to the guest rooms/pools/restaurants, etc. The casino that was on site was not “in the way” of the traditional needs of a hotel.

This was a stark difference in comparison to our hotel. In order to do anything, one had to go through the casino. If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you know that this is on purpose. There’s not much in the terms of traditional customer service at a casino. Everything funnels through the casino. Get from parking to the room: casino. Front desk to room: casino. Enter a restaurant: casino. Once your spending in the casino, then their customer service becomes apparent.

Hopefully, our customers, clients and others view us along the lines of J.W. Marriott instead of a traditional Vegas casino in regards to customer service. What kind of customer service do you provide?