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TillmanD

Clinical Director Contemplations…
The Cardinal Lesson

     Is it just me, or has this been a long winter? As I sit here in February writing this, I have learned that groundhog has decided this will be a longer winter...great! Is it just me, or is every news story I read or hear negative? Everyday brings with it some new fear, concern, or scandal happening to someone, somewhere. Is it just me, or does it feel like all of this just seems to stack on top of yesterday's junk? It is everywhere we look, despite us looking for it or not. The trick is knowing what to take in to manage being overwhelmed, what to let go of, and how to center yourself.
     Becoming overwhelmed in life is nothing new to any of us. If you are like me, there are times I manage all of this with ease. Then, there are times that I can feel the weight of negativity. Sure, maybe the first step is awareness of it. I however am an action oriented person and this does not feel like enough to stop it. I want to help make change rather than sitting and waiting for it to happen. So, what is next is a decision (and conscious effort) to not spread the negativity to others, they have enough of their own. There is a false belief out there that "venting" helps to relieve the negativity...it's impact is the exact opposite. You now have given the other person yours, and they have given you theirs. But, what happens when not spreading negativity does not relieve you enough of your own?
     The next step seems to be working to let go of things outside of your control. Now, truth be told, I find this the most difficult. I know I should let go of trying to control things, and believe me I try. Some find the answer in prayer, others in identifying and changing their negative thoughts, and still others in conversations with friends, family or a counselor. Any energy spent in this area will pay big rewards; keep at it. Remember, we are always a work in progress. I also don't believe that perfection is ever the expectation.
     Finally, the last component of battling negativity is centering yourself; for me, this happens outdoors. Yesterday I had finished a home remodeling project and was making trip, after trip, after trip to the garage putting away tools. The project went well overall, but not quite what I had hoped for, and like always...a little higher cost than I planned for (negativity). On what must have been the 12th trip, hands full of saw, ha
mmers, and nails..."wait, that sounds pretty, what is that"? High up in the neighbor's tree was a single cardinal. The light of the setting sun hit his feathers and displayed the most amazing color of red on a brown and bald tree. This cardinal was chirping and singing the most amazing chorus of "Doug, stop, listen, relax, let go, and look at the beauty around you in all of the negativity". That cardinal was right, and taught me the lesson once more. If the world seems to be overwhelming and out of control, turn off the negative messages and go back to nature. You will find all of the harmony, beauty, and peace you need. It is always there waiting for you.
     Keep an eye out for that brilliant cardinal while out there. He is a GREAT teacher.

~ Doug Tillman, Clinical Director

 

Elder Leanne

Therapist's Corner...
Positive Coping in Ping-Pong Ball Weather

    Is anyone else struggling with this ping pong ball weather? Do you eat “grumpy bear” cereal for breakfast and then let it affect your entire day? Do you wish for 70 degree weather with sun and no wind? Ahhh, the sound of that………………………Awesome.  
     Ok, so not happening at this time in our area.  How do you cope in a healthy positive way in spite of the current weather pattern and/or life stress you may be experiencing?  Are you focusing on trees with no leaves, brown grass, cloudy cold days, no sun? Or, do you notice birds chirping, buds budding, grass greening up, the smell of rain, or how productive you can be with inside projects?
     In my office I have a saying on a plaque  I share with my clients that fits many situations. It says:  When something bad happens you have three choices:
1. Let it define you
2. Let it destroy you
3. Let it strengthen you
     So what will you do with your sadness or frustration or any array of other feelings at this given time on this day?
     Will your feelings manage you or will you manage your feelings? You get to decide!!  
     I will leave you with this saying: You may not be able to control every situation and its outcome, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it.
     Have a surviving/managing kind of day. Family Resources of Greater Nebraska Blessings!

~ Leanne Elder, Therapist

 

Lenz

Tips From Our EAP...
Dealing With Angry Customers

    Angry customers can be a tricky situation. Once you know the tricks of the trade, they become less upsetting and more acceptable as part of the customer service landscape. Here are tips on diffusing situations and winning them over.

Listen First, Speak Later
     The initial burst of anger from your customer will almost always be the most intense. Because it’s stressful for the person on the receiving end, flustered employees often try to end the confrontation quickly in order to ease their own discomfort.
     This mistake usually leads to escalation. Resist the urge to interrupt, argue, or engage in problem solving. Instead, relax, slow down your breathing, and listen intently while nodding and making eye contact with your customer.
Apologize and Empathize
     Your customer will eventually run out of steam and pause to collect their thoughts. When this happens, apologize.
     An effective apology goes to the heart of what has upset your customer. For example, a customer who is displeased about an undisclosed $10 service charge is more likely to be angry about feeling deceived than about the fee itself. Address that anger specifically and empathize with it.
     Example: “I’m sorry. That charge should have been pointed out to you at the time of your purchase. No one likes to be surprised by hidden fees.”
     Resist “blame shifting” or passing the buck. In your customer’s eyes, you are the company, so don’t take anything that’s said to you personally. This is the secret to coping well with any customer service complaint. 
Clarify
     Immediately after apologizing, repeat the customer’s complaint. Clarifying the complaint assures the customer you’re concerned about the problem and helps you avoid further misunderstandings that may reignite their anger again.
Maintain a Calm, Positive Tone
     You have tremendous influence over your customer’s emotional state. Lowering your voice and speaking slowly and calmly in a pleasant manner relaxes and disarms an angry customer.
Take Immediate Action
     The longer they wait, the more they seethe. Make the unhappy customer your top priority. You want them to see you as an advocate, not an opponent. Start by asking what resolution is desired, and begin working toward a solution.
     If you can’t find an immediate answer or solution, take the lead in phoning the customer back. Jot down contact information and outline the corrective steps you will be taking. Include the names of everyone who will be involved in the solution.
     Example: “I’m going to send this purchase order to Sarah, our inventory manager. She’ll order the correct part for you. It should be here on Tuesday. She’ll call you at the number you provided. If you have any problems, please contact me immediately and I’ll help you resolve it. Here is my card.”
     One of the biggest drivers of customer anger is feeling like they’re getting the runaround. Taking the steps above assures your customer of the following facts: they are valued, there’s a plan, they won’t be abandoned, and you will be accountable and available for follow-up.
Follow-Up Tough Cases
     An angry customer is not necessarily a former customer. So, don’t write them off! A follow-up phone call or message a few days following the resolution of a complaint sends the message that you care about your customer’s satisfaction and well-being. Most customers just want to feel valued. This technique builds super strong loyalty.
     You can’t please everyone, but you can improve and enhance your company’s image and responsiveness in every dispute. The more you practice these techniques, the more success you’ll have calming customers, winning them over, and reducing stress.
What the EAP Can Do
     No one is superhuman. An unusually stressful incident involving an angry customer can leave you rattled. If a violent or near-violent incident took place, you certainly may benefit from support, even if it is just talking about it. If a stressful incident leaves you lacking energy or a positive attitude, contact your employee assistance program for practical tips and targeted help

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Coordinator (resource: Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

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