Silence Does Not Mean Assumed ‘Procrastination’

I am sorry. Since starting this “Procrastination Post” blog, in its current form, this has been the longest lag in between writings. I guess with the up front, obvious title of the blog, it already contains a ready made excuse for the gaps. Maybe it sets up the dismal expectation to expect many intervals of stunted growth, regression, stops and starts, and in inordinate number of apologies.

Sorry, I am not going to apologize, and I cannot accept our ‘Procrastination’ title as a motive to provide a convenient reason and acceptance of failure that is inevitable. I cannot. It’s as if we purposely put this label in bold font right out front, carrying placards to set the bar real low in order to minimize the impact from the fall when we trip.

No. I must insist that it is to the contrary of all these assumptions. It is to show, explore, consider what value can come out of digging ourselves out of the hideous hole we started with. And that we refuse to accept our predicament and struggle even more desperately to fight and climb. And that we will write to reflect light on another side of our world underneath. Our label is not something to trip over, step on, nor to foreshadow a message of upcoming weakness and disappointment.

And if I am, in fact, simply incriminating myself in this latest post and providing more evidence to fuel previous assumptions, then at least we can still be the prosecutors of our own guilt.

Thanks for your patience over past couple of weeks, knowing that even while we are silent, we are still writing and digging even more profusely than what can be sighted here.

-pat

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I thought you went to get your hair cut?

Getting a haircut is definitely an opportune time to evaluate various aspects of customer service. Throughout our lifetimes, we’ve probably encountered many stylists and have our personal favorites. We may even insist on adjusting our schedules to fit a particular stylists, in order to guarantee our hair is always done by him/her, because we like the service so much.

Me? I’m quite cheap when it comes to haircuts. I always get the basic, bare bones service, and never ask for a special style or highlights or much of anything. In fact, I choose the place based on what coupon I have at the moment of need. The advantage of this is that I’ve been in a position to witness more than my fair share of stylists.

I’ve been to ones who usually try to insist and persuade me into trying what they think. One woman’s voice particularly stands out: “I know what would look really good on you!” I guess that’s okay except she suggests a really good longer hairstyle when, in my context, I’m always looking for a cut that leaves my hair very short. You see, if you haven’t noticed, with my coupons, and going to places where I can just drop in and not make appointments with specific stylists, I like to save money! The shorter I can make my hair, the longer I can go without needing to cut it.

Despite repeating my desire for something short, somehow she persuaded me into a longer style. She was a smooth talker, good at selling, I guess, but it didn’t take me long to get the impression that she may have been suggesting a longer style because she wanted to do less cutting and only just a bit of trimming. Perhaps this wasn’t totally true, but I couldn’t help thinking after I left that I sure didn’t sit in the chair for very long! And when I saw my family, my mother didn’t even notice much of any change in my mop and said: “I thought you went to get your hair cut!”

Not long after, I had to go for another cut, but just not to the lady who prefers longer styles. Fortunately, I had another coupon to another place. In the next blog entry, I’ll continue my adventures on hair and reflections on customer service.

-Patrick Law

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Each phone call, no matter how negative, is an opportunity…

In these economic times, when it may be harder to get new business, it makes it even more important to do all we can to retain our customers and increase the loyalty factor. It is shocking that day in, day out, we can find so many examples where we are left wondering, why didn’t they do just a little bit more to keep their customers? Why do so many throw away opportunties and not make use of situations where the customer is giving them a chance to obtain business?

Today I overheard my friend talking on the phone and asking a hair salon company for the name of the person who did her hair last time. She thought she did a good job, but couldn’t remember her name, and wanted to schedule another appointment. She described the appearance of the hairstylist and which station she usually worked at until the employee on the phone recoginized who she was referring to. The employee said that the hairstylist my friend wanted did not work there any longer.

My friend was of course disappointed, and stayed on the phone a bit to express how satisfied she was last time and also communicated a mood of not knowing where to go next. The employee apologized, did not say or ask much more, and they said their goodbyes.

You may be wondering, as I am, why did the employee not take the opportunity to strive a little harder to retain the customer? My friend, as evident by her reaction, had some hesitancy and indecisiveness about where to go and what to do next. Even though her preferred stylist was no longer working at the salon, the employee already had my friend on the phone and had first shot in convincing my friend to stay with the company.

Maybe the employee could ask my friend what kind of style she likes and then promote one of the stylists in the salon? The employee should show interest by asking questions and then show that their services can meet the needs of my friend. In these kind of situations, where a customer is disappointed and considering going elsewhere, maybe employees should have the authority to offer discounts and special coupons in an effort to keep the customer? Or how about politely asking the customer if they would like to talk to one of the hairstylists to discuss on a more personal level about the desired look that the customer is after?

Each phone call is an opportunity to improve the customer relationship. The employee probably assumed that because the preferred stylist is not available anymore, this meant the end of the interaction and relationship. It’s up to the employee, especially while the customer is still on the phone, to convince her not to go elsewhere.

-Patrick Law

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Library Perks

While working at the library may not have the traditional big business perks of golf club memberships, concerts, sporting events, free dinners, stock options, it does have its intrinsically unique set of perks.

Some perks for library staff:

If you’re fortunate enough to be in close vicinity or have access to what materials are being processed, you are one of the first to know what new items on going to be on the shelves soon. And if you are in any department relating to ordering materials, then this is even one step more ahead in the assembly line, and you have knowledge months ahead of time what is coming.

What kind of shopper are you? Do you like to get in and out by finding your predetermined item directly and leaving as fast as you can, or do you like to browse around? If you are of the latter variety, then the library is probably a dream haven for you. If you have access to books that are being returned, right at your desk is a browsing session each time an item is being checked in. You can consider for each one, would you borrow that book? Would you read it? What might it be about? I never knew something could be written from that perspective? There has to be some kind of communion going on every time a title passes by. Is it knowledge you would like to acquire?

Another perk is being right at the front line on the information needs and knowledge cravings of the public. What books are being taken out and circulated? What books are repeatedly being used and in demand? Where is the pulse of the community at? Which authors have firm grasps of our collective imaginations? What does the public need to take in again and again? What are students studying? What possible dissertations are being considered at this moment? What is important in our lives!

Knowledge of what books patrons are interested in can make it easier for future communication and establishing relationships. It’s a convenient ice-breaker, and also a way to select who you want to start conversation with. And, if feeling extra ambitious, and if it fits your particular circumstances, you can even get a head start on match making. One can argue that meeting potential partners based on books may have more validity and a higher success rate than using those expensive dating agencies?

As you can notice, there are more perks in a library than can be used in one career, so consider twice next time you read the formal benefits package, contracts, because you probably will not see any of the perks written there. You just have to think what perks there could be…

-Patrick Law

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Telling Lies in the Hope that They’ll Soon Be True…

Lies. After hearing this word, or being a victim of them, or having them come out of your own mouth, how do you feel? What feelings are associated with not telling the exact truth? Chances are, just naturally, they tend to lean towards the negative end of the spectrum. Even without knowing the complete story, we usually do not take kindly to lies and have an unflattering impression of the person doing the lying. These reactions don’t allow us to consider potential underlying reasons that the person has for stretching the truth. This information could prove valuable to better understand the other person and may even be turned into positive use.

That’s why I found refreshing the Globe and Mail article that offered another perspective and interpretation on reasons why people may lie or exaggerate. I particularly found enlightening one suggestion about how “lies” could actually reflect what the person is trying to achieve, or a goal to be obtained.

The article helped remind me not to jump on somebody, and too quickly form a negative impression of someone, when they lie. It gave me insight on how lying can be seen as part of the process towards something and that we should think of ways on how it can motivate.

With this in mind, would you be willing to forgive and understand some of the lies and exaggerations I’ve provided on various sections of this blog? Heheheh…..

-Patrick Law

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Not Just a Degree in Football…

There was a great article this morning in the Calgary Herald about the intelligence and smarts of certain football players. You can click here to read the full article. It helps debunk the common stereotype we often have of jocks that they have gifted physical and athletic attributes, but are lacking substance upstairs. I still remember the expression used to make fun of an introductory Geology course in university. People called it “Rocks for Jocks” because it had a reputation of being easy and the class was filled with student athletes looking to get some easy marks, or just hoping to get by.

But, as mentioned in the Herald article, take a survey of any football team, and take a look at the student athletes combining school with athletics across our campuses, and we can see that there are many examples of abilities that transcend the playing field. Already sports, in itself, is such a valuable education for learning leadership, teamwork, adversity, pressure, training, practice, and perseverance skills. With smart players, they are more likely and able to apply and transfer these skills in other contexts in the community, business, and education world during and after their athletic careers.

In the Canadian Football League, especially, with the salary being relatively low for professional athletes, knowing and learning about what players do outside sports makes them more in touch with the common folk. I think an athlete’s true power and influence comes when he/she is able to motivate not only other people in the same sport, but when someone who is totally in a different field gets inspired to go beyond limits because of an athlete’s example.

-Patrick Law

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The Danger and Importance of Expectations

When stuck in my own vicious cycle of procrastination for a long time, sometimes I get so habituated into the comfort of delay and using rationalizations automatically that they do not seem unreasonable or give off any warning signals. I find that in these cases, watching others, and their various manifestations of procrastination can then help give reflection on what I do myself in other contexts.

When seeing another person put off doing something for the wrong reasons, and diluting life in the process, we obviously are aware how counterproductive these behaviours can be. Maybe this can stir within us the action to change these very same behaviours that we display ourselves but have chosen to ignore for so long.

I was talking with a diligent student about her portfolio assignment. Her first set of entries are due later this week and we were discussing ideas about how to present it creatively, emotionally, symbolically, and in a way that shows evidence of work and experience, as well as progression of improvement and reflection on what the student learned from her experiences.

Throughout our discussions, the student was very animated and showed emotion and depth when telling stories from her childhood that she thought worthwhile to include in the beginning part of her portfolio to show how they influenced her thinking of today. We then thought together about possibilities on how to present it on the pages. Various images, drawings, and photograph suggestions came up, and the student was enthused about the creative potential and how meaningful this project is.

However, her tone changed when talk started focusing on the specific deadline and answering some of the required questions given by the teacher. She decided to give up on themes of presentation and style, and creative story telling, and instead decided to give short answers to answer directly, or maybe just do a traditional essay format. I encouraged her to try combine some of her previous ideas of pictures and symbols along with the traditional writing method, but she was reluctant.

Her reasons knocked me back a bit, but also woke me up to some of the fears that people have. She admitted that the teacher encouraged creative thinking and use of other material to supplement answers for the portfolio project. The student, from our previous discussions, obviously enjoyed creative work and finding, and interpreting meaning from stories and using pictures as symbols and metaphors. Despite all this, she reasoned that “I can’t put in extra pictures and other materials for this first entry. If I do, then the teacher will expect that I will always put in extra, and what if I can’t in the future? I better just do it safe and directly, and just get it done.”

Suddenly I realized, if this student is saying something like this, then in classrooms all over the world, many students are thinking similar thoughts and a lot of potential is being stifled. The grip of fear and worry can be so strong that a student may avoid producing something that is meaningful by focusing on the future expectations of others. Attention is taken away from current content to hypothetical implications. Furthermore, maybe even more tragic, is that many of us see high expectations as negative and something to fear. If a teacher expects to see creative thought and critical thinking in unique forms, then that can push the student to keep pushing her thinking in future projects.

Unfortunately, for those who struggle with anxiety that may lead to procrastination and putting off tasks, we seek out safety to avoid expectations.  While there is a feeling of danger in others’ expecations, and our own, they are also places and new heights that we can reach within that are not possible without expectations.

-Pat

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