The Etiquette of Using Office Supplies

Just like having a roommate requires certain rules of conduct about sharing a bathroom, kitchen, food etc., the cabinet that holds the office supplies also has its own set of rules. Breaking these rules can have very unpleasant consequences, and you may find when you come to work one morning that all the items on your desk have been super glued onto it, making it impossible to get any work done. It is best to know what the rules are, in case you find yourself in an awkward situation with a coworker regarding who took the last box of paperclips.

Rule #1: Never Take More Than You Need. There is sometimes nothing more frustrating than needing liquid paper, finding it all gone in the supply cabinet, then reporting it to a supervisor, only to find that the person in the office next door has a drawer full of it when you go to ask them if you can borrow some. Having more supplies than you need shortens the supply in the cabinet for other employees. It also makes the person ordering the supplies think that it is being used rapidly, which causes them to order more, spending more of the company’s money. If the company is spending a lot of money on office supplies, and you are hoarding liquid paper in a drawer, don’t expect to get a raise.

Rule #2: If Something Is Gone, Say Something: I know you think your office manager has supernatural powers because they can somehow always catch you watching YouTube clips when you are supposed to be working. The fact is, that your office manager or the person in charge of ordering supplies is probably not a mind reader. If you go to the supply closet, and find that it is lacking something that you need, in order to get some more, you have to report it. If you don’t say anything about it, then you can’t complain when the next order comes in lacking the supplies you require.

Rule #3: Throw Away The Empty Boxes or Containers: One of the most frustrating things that can happen in the office, is for example, having your highlighter run out of ink, going to the supply closet to get another one, picking up the box that contains them, only to find you are holding an empty box. This is an office no-no. If you take the last of something in the supply closet, make sure you throw the box or container that was holding it, away. Not throwing away empty containers and boxes in the supply closet gives people false hope. To prevent your office accountant threatening to staple you to your chair, throw away the box when you take the last highlighter.

Now that you know how to behave and what to in regards to the closet the office supplies are kept in, you should take note. You probably have enough to deal with at work without the person in the cubicle next to you giving you the stink eye for the eighteen boxes of binder clips you have tucked away. Only take what you need, if something is gone, tell your supervisor, and always throw away the empty boxes or containers. If the office accountant does decided to staple you to your chair, it won’t be because you were foolish about the supply closet, it will be because he is crazy.

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The Seven Wonders of the World

The world around is filled with all kinds of wonders and we can gaze at them only by opening our eyes and our hearts. After all you need to believe in magic to be able to believe it. However, if you’re someone who is a bit on the cynical side, we bring to you a list of the wonders that exist all around the world. If you are a fan of archeology, history or travelling you’re definitely going to enjoy this article. Oh and if you plan to travel after reading this, don’t forget to look into Cathay Asia Airlines.

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
The crown jewel of Egypt and the only surviving architecture from the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this pyramid is truly a sight to behold. This pyramid is said to be built as a tomb to the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu. The building is approximately 480 feet tall and was the tallest building in the world for more than 3800 years. This pyramid when built was outlined with a limestone casing which with time got destroyed. Now you can only see the casing near the bottom of the pyramid whereas the top exposes us to the inner lining of the pyramid.

2. Petra, Jordan
Petra is often called the city of rose due to the red colored stones that it is made of. This beautiful hidden city is famous for its architectural grace and the water conduit system. Even though the city is located in Jordan, it was actually discovered by a Swiss explorer in the early 19th century. This place is also said to have structures that are more than 2000 years old.

3. Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro
This miracle took a total of nine years to be constructed due to the its location on the top of a cliff. This is the third largest statue of Jesus in the world. The raw materials for this statue were actually imported from Sweden. This beautiful statue was actually constructed as a sign of peace, to show that Christ loves everyone.

4. The Great Wall of China
This wall that stretches over 8000 kilometers was built over a period of 2000 years and renovated over time by many different Chinese dynasties. It is said that millions of people died while building the wall and that they’re buried within the Wall’s foundations. The Wall is also famous because it is the only structure on Earth that can be seen from the moon without any aids. Fascinating right? Go check it out yourself!

5. The Colosseum
This fighting ground of the roman gladiators took 8 years to build and was designed by the Roman Poet Virgil. The Colosseum has more than 80 entrances and can house 50,000 people at one time. It receives millions of visitors every year and is therefore the biggest tourist attraction in Rome.

6. The Leaning Tower
This beautiful tower located in Pisa is famous because of the way it inclines with height. The architecture has been constructed in a way that makes it feel tilted. If you’re ever in Italy, this is a must place to go to.

7. Taj Mahal
Constructed by an emperor in the memory of his beloved wife, this palace is a symbol of love for the entire world. The intricate architecture and carving inside this Mahal will make you fall in love with it. And if you don’t believe us, why don’t you go see it yourself? All you have to do is book your ticket using Cathay Asia Airlines.

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Are Travel Agents Old School?

It appears you can’t stare at the TV for 60 minutes without seeing a notice with William Shatner discussing Travelocity or that senseless dwarf discussing Orbitz. These travel sites have been extremely effective at encouraging voyagers to book their own particular carrier and lodging reservations on the web. So with this colossal push from the web to assume control over the travel business, one needs to ask, “Are travel agents old school?”

In the event that you have searched for some of these travel web sites, you have watched that they are stunning in the assorted qualities of travel choices that they make accessible. As a business traveler, be that as it may, your requirements are fairly unique in relation to the run of the mill aircraft traveler.

There are some certain administrations and genuine help that a living and breathing travel agent can give that basically can’t be duplicated by a computerized site like Travelocity or Orbitz. Some of those administrations that a prepared business traveler would be unable to live without having…

A Travel Agent will give you…

- Focus. You as a business traveler are not orchestrating this excursion for excitement. You have particular business goals as a main priority. So on the off chance that you should remove time from planning for your business assignment to stress over travel agendas, lodging and rental auto reservations and so forth, that is time that you are not being beneficial for your business.

When you get the chance that you can call a skilled travel agent who knows your travel profile well and delegate those courses of action to that agent, they carry out their occupation in finding only the right facilities for you and you are liberated to do what you excel at, spotlight on your business and the up and coming business trip.

- Economy. It is hard to find that harmony between finding the housing that fit the requesting timetable of a businessman out and about and is conscious of the organizations travel spending plan too.

On the off chance that you utilize a computerized online travel administration, you may need to relinquish accommodation, timetable or area for economy.

A decent travel agent will endeavor to get you the right schedule while getting as close the corporate travel cost confinements as would be prudent. Furthermore, they will do it without taking up a considerable measure of your time.

- Back up. You needn’t bother with help if your excursion goes totally as arranged. Be that as it may, in the event that you experience issues out and about, you can wind up in need or rescheduling flights and finding new lodging to work around scratched off flights, climate issues or other surprising intrusions to your arrangements.

These travel debacles are not aware of your tight due dates to meet your business objectives. In any case, you have a travel agent who is committed to giving you administration, he or she can locate those option courses and assets to do whatever they can to get you to your destination so you can direct your business on time.

- That individual touch. You may have travel inclinations that you need to accomplish with every outing you take. A travel agent has your profile and your travel history so they can do what they can to suit your inclinations.

Yet, in addition, when you have particular unique needs, for example, an eating regimen constraint or a requirement for convenience because of an inability, it will be a travel agent that sees to it that your needs are accommodated and you are well dealt with out and about.

- No Complications. In the event that your travel agenda includes making associations with different business accomplices who are going from various workplaces, complex travel calendars and schedule challenges that just can’t be depicted to the nonexclusive screens of an online travel administration, you can disclose these inconveniences to your travel agent and they can work with other travel agents attempting to arrange the meeting and see to it that your agenda meets your prerequisites.

While the online travel administrations do give a profitable and moderate other option to the general voyaging open, it is anything but difficult to see their confinements on the off chance that you are attempting to book a trek that is dubious or in the event that you have particular needs that the screens don’t suspect.

That is the reason working with a human travel agent ensures that this travel proficient person will devote themselves to the assignment of ensuring your excursion attempts to your details and that you get to your destination prepared to lead in business and be fruitful in your accomplishing your objectives.

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The Importance of Automotive Filter Changes

Humans require clean, easy-to-breath air in order to live. And just like humans, vehicles also need to be able to “breathe” clean air in order to survive. While human lungs make it possible to breathe, a vehicle’s air filters do just the same. But after some time, they begin to accumulate mass amounts of dirt, debris, and other airborne particles, which eventually decreases their quality and function. For this reason, it is critical to have your vehicle’s engine and cabin air filters inspected and changed on a routine basis to promote safe and efficient driving. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of routine automotive filter changes.

Air Filters

Keep in mind that your car’s air filters are your first line of defense against irritating and obstructive airborne contaminants. Dirt, dust, pollen, mold spores, exhaust gases, bacteria, and more are examples of airborne contaminants that have the ability to negatively affect the quality and performance of your engine and vehicle as a whole. And according to Community Car Care, there is a 1 in 5 chance that YOUR car needs an air filter change right now! Many drivers are guilty of overlooking this small but highly-necessary scheduled maintenance.

Engine Damage

The long list of airborne contaminants can have a powerful impact on your vehicle’s engine, and in a very negative way. Everything from pistons, cylinders, and cylinder walls, to piston rings and bearings, are just a few areas of a car engine that can begin to lose performance value from clogged or dirty air filters. Over time, neglecting to change them can lead to serious engine malfunctions and breakdowns, which means frustrating, costly repairs.

Cabin Filters

If you like to have clean, breathable interior air that smells good, you need to change your air filters on a routine basis. Once they start to become clogged, they begin to slowly lose their ability to do their job. So once they are entirely clogged, you can suffer some mild but irritating consequences, such as musty smells, sore throat, coughing, itchy eyes, tightening of the chest, and more. Changing them regularly keeps the interior environment of your car fresh and easy to breath.

Schedule

Refer to your vehicle’s owners’ manual for the manufacturer recommendations on factory scheduled maintenance. The general rule of thumb is to have your air filters inspected and changed every time you take your car in for an oil change. In fact, it is often a part of oil change packages. This should be every 3,000 miles or so. Talk to your mechanic for professional advice.

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Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not deal with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and / or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organization's reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts usually occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between collections and / or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of 'being proved right'. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognize the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work collections.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it may sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organization to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfill that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • Problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • Delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • Difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • Drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from concessions due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view thought about by the many influences on their lives.

These effects include;

Genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the color of our eyes and hair to our health.

Upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values ​​they instilled in us.

Culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

Economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

Education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

The environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighborhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

Life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person's point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • People do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • People are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • People do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognizing the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention . Customers or colleges who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person . Maintainable reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting . Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc. All add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or collections you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm . Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone's working life, when you think "If I get asked one more stupid question, I'll go mad!", But sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, Possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior collectors, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it's just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness . There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whatever you simply can not get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences . Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behavior. Do not make fun of customs you do not understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a college into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognized early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • Aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building Anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • Malicious or negative gossip among collections
  • Difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • Tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognize any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavor to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and possibly avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognized and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, it can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organization and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleges may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • Drug or alcohol affected persons
  • People with guns or other weapons
  • Situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • People who appear to be violent or threatening
  • Situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • Keep calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • Move them, discreetly, out of the main area of ​​your office or shop
  • Take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • Bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and / or entities such as police as soon as possible.

Organizational requirements

You can not simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a deferred balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organizations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the amount of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organization is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organization who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organization must be considered.

Organization policy on refunds or exchange . Most organizations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organizations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organization and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains that they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organization. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. "Passing the buck" at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and do not pass them off saying "It's not my problem" or "The lady who handled this is not here now ….". At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • Exactly what the problem is
  • When & where it occurred
  • How long ago the problem occurred
  • What they paid for the product or service
  • How they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of ​​the person's expectations and how they impact on the organization's policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; Stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive income for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of "give and take" where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable exit. This would normally occur in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; An agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable exit in mind, you can then begin To negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Do not get stuck on one solution just because it's the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organizations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person may need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem . When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can not reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can not work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It's not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over who fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's place; Empathise with them. Use expressions such as "I can understand why you would feel that way" and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Do not interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilized manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the court of now listening to your (organization's) position. For example; "I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?"

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • Areas of the business that are not working properly
  • Processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • Things that customer like / or do not like about your products or services
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organization can then use it to continuously improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails) of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organization's continuous improvement program but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continuously look for ways in which an organization can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organization can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organization. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • To ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • To maintain its reputation
  • To learn from errors or mistakes
  • To make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be taken by way of a phone call, letter or even even a personal visit to the person concerned to ensure that any issue that exists between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place ? A close examination of the circumances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organizations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organization's policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service / product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively ? This is a very important question from the customers and the organizations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organization, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organizational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the output – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organization money? Too much money? Was the income worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer's reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organization. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organizations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

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Are You Eligible for These Sunshine State Travel Discounts?

If a Florida vacation is in your future, then find out if you’re eligible for these travel discounts in the Sunshine State. Although they are relatively easy to get, if you don’t know how or where to apply for them, you’ll totally miss out on some hefty savings.

Save at the Toll Booth

First and foremost, if you have a significant dexterity disability, you may be eligible for a free pass when it comes to Florida’s toll roads. The Disabled Toll Permit saves drivers both time and money; and although it’s often overlooked by visitors, it’s easy to obtain if you meet the minimum qualifications.

In order to qualify for a Disabled Toll Permit you must have:

A valid driver’s license
An upper limb or dexterity disability that prevents you from tossing coins into a toll booth basket
An adapted vehicle
The permit is valid for five years, and it can be used at manned toll booths throughout the state. Just show the toll booth operator your permit, and you’re good to go. For more information about the Disabled Toll Permit, call (800) 983-2435.

Once you receive your Disabled Toll Permit, you can also apply for a Sun Pass non-revenue mini transponder. There is a $4.95 fee for this electronic device that attaches to the windshield, and allows users to pass through unmanned toll booths at no charge.

For more information about a Sun Pass non-revenue mini transponder, call the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged at (561) 488-5344.

State Park Savings

Additionally, veterans with a service-connected disability can receive a free military entrance pass, good for admission to all Florida State Parks. This lifetime pass is valid for park admission of up to eight people, except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife and Weeki Wachee Springs parks, where it’s good for up to two people.

Proof of identification, service-connected disability and honorable discharge are required. Acceptable documentation includes:

Valid driver’s license.
Documentation from Department of Defense or another appropriate agency of service-connected disability.
DD Form 214 showing honorable discharge.
The military entrance pass can only be obtained in person at any Florida State Park. Surviving Spouses and parents of US military members who have died in combat are also eligible for this pass.

Honorably discharged veterans can also receive a 25% discount on individual or family passes. These passes, which are valid for one year, are good for admission to all parks. A valid driver’s license and a DD Form 214 are required to get the discount; and like the military entrance pass, it can only be obtained in person.

And if you don’t qualify for either of those passes, but you plan to visit a number of Florida State Parks, you can still save some money by purchasing an individual or family annual pass. These passes are good for one year and they can be purchased at any state park entrance. The individual pass is priced at $60, while the family pass costs $120.

So plan ahead, bring your documentation, and rack up some savings on your next Florida vacation.

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A Heartfelt New Year’s Resolution: Show You Care

I heard the sirens behind me before I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance, followed closely by a fire truck. Like everyone else on the roadway, I looked around trying to figure out where the ambulance was heading, and as soon as I saw the lights, eased my car over to the right side of the road. Only the ambulance wasn’t traveling in the direction of traffic, the ambulance was heading for whichever side of the roadway was clear, if only for a few car-lengths – much to the surprise, no doubt, of those in the oncoming lane of traffic.

I figured it must be a truly urgent emergency for the ambulance and fire truck to be commandeering both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Nonetheless, drivers on either side were nudging their cars onto the side, out of the way. At no time did the ambulance have to blow its horn, slow down, or do anything else to get where it needed to go.

We care. We really do. In moments of crisis, large or small, our respect for one another simply as human beings, shows up. I am reminded of a very touching video posted in the final weeks of the chaotic Presidential campaigns, which featured a woman trying to find the owner of a lost dog found wandering in a parking lot. It was an “equal opportunity” posting, in that the same situation was played out in both Trump and Clinton rallies. The woman wore a “Trump” t-shirt in the Clinton situation, and a “Clinton” t-shirt in the Trump situation. Didn’t matter. People in both rallies, without exception, treated the woman with respect, and tried their very best to help her find the dog’s owner. Small crisis, true, but oh-so-telling.

We care. We really do. So what if, this New Year, we made a resolution to show our caring, our respect for our shared humanity, when it isn’t a matter of a lost dog or tragic accident? What if, just as a matter of course, throughout our most ordinary of days, we made the effort to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume people are doing their best (including ourselves!), and to respect them, regardless of whether or not we agree with them?

I know, it’s easier to do with lost dogs than it is with co-workers or family, much less strangers who are rude to us or ignore us altogether. But heck, we’re still all in this together, and a little bit of respect and consideration goes a long way.

And who knows? Someone may give you some of that respect and consideration when you least expect it, in a most delightful way.

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Credit Card Processing

The credit card is a commonly used financial tool and its use forms an important part of personal finance. A credit card though simple to use has a networked system and structure that enables payment through a plastic card with minimal chances of misuse and fraud. The credit card industry mainly comprises of:

  • Card Provider: Cards providers are very few in numbers. Some of the known credit card providers are: VISA, MasterCard, JCB, American Express etc. The logos of these card providers are what we very often see on entry to a store.
  • Card Issuers: financial institutions such as banks issue a MasterCard or VISA or any other card to card holders. This card will have logos of both the financial institution and the card provider.
  • Card Acquirer: The card acquirer processes the cards accepted by any store and this service is known as credit card processing or merchant account services.
  • Merchant Account: The merchant or stores have an account with a credit card processing service to enable credit card payments in their store.

Every credit card transaction initiates a flow of information and exchange of money between the credit card processing organization, card issuer and the merchant account authorized and conducted by the credit card provider.

Credit card processing services do not limit their services to acceptance of credit cards alone but also enable the processing of various payment mediums such as: debit cards, electronic cheques, gift cards and other forms of payment.

The credit card processing organization performs the key task of authorizing the credit card when presented to the merchant instantly. The credit card processing organization then debits the card issuers account and credits their account with the amount of purchase made by the card holder.This implies that the card issuer pays the card processing services for the transaction. The card services organization then makes the payment to the merchant after deducting a transaction processing fee.

This is the procedure followed for every credit card transaction and it is made easy for you due to the efficiency of various parties that are involved in making credit card transaction an easy process.

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7 Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Windshield Wipers and Fluid – Fog, snow and rain will cut down your visibility in winter, causing you to use your wiper blades and washer fluid much more than normal. An antifreeze solution along with winter wiper blades will help to fight ice build-up. Keeping extra windshield washer solvent on hand is helpful too!

Battery – A thorough inspection of your battery, cables, terminals and fluid will help to make sure your car is ready for winter. The cold weather puts more stress on your battery. Many automotive parts stores will test your battery capacity free of charge.

Inspect Your Tires – If you’re not mounting winter tires on your vehicle, be sure to examine your current tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing and cupping as well as checking the sidewalls for cuts and nicks to help you to know if your tires are ready for the harsh weather. The colder weather will also reduce the pressure within your tires, causing them to perform poorly in the snow. You should frequently check your tire pressures.

Coolant – Along with regulating the engine temperature, a vehicle’s coolant system is responsible for protecting your engine against corrosion. For the winter season you will want to make sure that you are using the right ratio of coolant to water in your system as well as using the right type of coolant for your car. If you are unsure, you can check the effectiveness of your coolant with a simple and inexpensive test found at any car parts store.

Ice scraper – Keep your ice scraper in your vehicle and always clean off your car completely, not just a little peephole in the windshield. You must be able to see all your surroundings, your side mirrors and through your back window. Snow on top of your car could slide down and cover your windshield while you are slowing down or fly off onto someone else’s vehicle while you are driving. In some states it is the law that your vehicle is clear of snow and ice.

Survival Kit – Especially during times of slick road conditions and below freezing temperatures, you will want to keep a survival kit in the car at all times in case of emergency. Some items to consider include extra gloves, boots and blankets, flares, tire chains, a flashlight and extra batteries, car charger or portable cellphone charger, and a whistle. Also check your spare tire and make sure that your car jack is in good, working condition.

Keep Your Gas Tank Above Half – If you get stuck or stranded, the car’s engine will be your only source of heat and you will want to be sure you have enough fuel to keep you warm. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove snow from behind the tailpipe and keep it unobstructed to prevent lethal gas from accumulating in the vehicle.

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The Importance of Employment Tests

It is a known fact that the success of an employer and a company as a whole depends largely on the quality and reliability of its employees. This is the reason why employers must invest time and even money in the recruitment and interview process. Doing so would ensure that only the best possible candidate will be considered for a particular job.

When it comes to screening of potential employees, no other tool does it better than employment tests. These tests can measure what is called the KSA – knowledge, skills and abilities of the job candidates. Employment tests in this context are generally written or automated tests, but also include interviews, personality tests, skill tests, psychological tests, performance tests, medical examinations, agility tests, and so on.

A hiring process that is poorly designed is much like a recruitment process based on flipping a coin. Employers are well-aware that the impact of inefficient recruitment decisions can have costly and detrimental outcomes, which may include expensive training costs, decrease in overall productivity, increase in employee replacement, and increase in legal exposure.

Benefits of Efficient Assessments Incorporating assessment tests ensure that your company is making better hiring decisions. It can determine whether or not an employee can meet your criterion for maintaining high productivity. Consequently, pre-employment tests can reduce expensive and time-consuming recruitment steps by straightforwardly narrowing down the choices that will include only candidates who are best fit for the job. Because job fitting is greatly improved, this scenario can also increase the chances of retaining your employees for far longer periods of time. Furthermore, a well-developed pre-employment testing program can present a professional and positive image for your company, and will decrease the risk of hiring complaints.

Although pre-employment tests are basically a tool that protects employers, it can be just as important for them as for the applicant. It would be a shameful waste of time, effort, and even money to prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of a new job, yet find out later on that one is not capable of performing the tasks on hand and is bound for failure.

The benefits of pre-employment testing are endless. However, employers must know that these tests have certain limitations. For one, written tests must only measure skills that are important for the job description that a candidate is applying for. For this, employers must carefully design their pre-employment testing program. Pre-employment tests not properly designed may create an impression of being discriminatory, and this is something employers must avoid at all times.

Designing testing tools take time and experience. If these two are something your company does not have, you can easily find pre-employment testing software packages on the market. These pre-employment tests have been designed by professionals with expertise and experience in the field of recruitment, and thus can efficiently evaluate the general knowledge, office skills, personality, and so on, of a potential job candidate. There are various types of pre-employment test to choose from, and there will surely be one that best fits your needs as an employer.

Clearly, organizations that have a carefully well-developed testing program that best meets their exact needs will have competitive advantage. Employment tests allow employers to make the best hiring decisions and will consequently improve business revenue, productivity, and overall business outcomes.

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