Wednesday 23 December 2009

What the Chicken?!?

We have all been there.

A simple process has turned into an arduous journey of pain. Nothing was seemingly going right anywhere and we were a hair’s breath away from losing the entire box.

A Line of Business (LoB) application is an ongoing pain with nothing going right after an update and ten pairs of eyes burning holes in the back because they can not work while we try and bring things back up again.

The CEO’s Blackberry has taken a holiday . . . when they don’t want it to . . . which is never!

And so on and so forth.

Now, for some of us being in situations like this can lead to highly elevated stress and frustration levels. And, once those levels get to a certain point we need to place a clamp on our mouth so as to not let any expletives to slip by.

Many years back one of my co-workers used to say, “What the chicken?” when things were not going right. I liked that so much I adopted it. Our clients get a kick out of it too.

If things get really stressful then the expressions will get a bit more colourful all the while maintaining non-expletive words and usually referencing certain foods or processed foods.

Why is this important?

Imagine losing a key client because after eight hours of fighting with a LoB someone took offense to an exasperated:

“This thing is about as useful as teats on a bull!”

Of course we are _imagining_ that right? ;)

In my case keeping track of what passes across my tongue is all the more important as I spent many years working in automotive shops, on rail crews, and subcontracting on construction sites. It’s not like the language used on the various job sites would charm Emily Post (Wikipedia). :)

Maintaining our composure under a lot of stress keeps our professionalism intact. It lets our client know that we are confident and assured and have the situation under control.

Maintaining that composure is even more important when things really go sideways like a building burning down or a catastrophic failure of a server. Basically any situation where we are required to assess, structure, and proceed through a highly volatile situation to a positive conclusion.

Oh, and do pick up a copy of Emily Post’s book on Etiquette. Since we are required to interact with our clients in so many ways and on so many levels, having a good grasp of how to behave, that is having good manners, in those various situations will go a long way towards maintaining our professionalism too.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer


Sean Kearney said...

I completely agree. If you can speak to the client on their terms and keep the expletives out, it usually goes well.

Although it *IS* interesting when the client calms off, accepts the problem and bluntly says, "So what you're saying is the old system is *EXPLITIVE* ?"

At that point you can usually let one slip out with them. But ONLY if they initiate it of course :)

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...



"Tact" is the word of the day today ... next to "Merry Christmas"! ;)

Having tact when discussing the stinky piles helps the client to realize what stinky piles they are and connect the dots to that fact.

A skill, or even an art, is to be able to discuss things with a client and guide them so that they come to make decisions on their own. Essentially they never get the feeling that they have lost control of the situation.

I checked out your blog too. Good one! :)

Merry Christmas!