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Free Online Call Center Training

Call center training can take many formats and is relevant to the specific types of customers and call types
to be handled by the agents. However, regardless of the industry and the products or services being
disused, call center reps will always need one type of training: Dealing with angry customers.

Given the fact that most inbound call centers handle complaints, it is only fair to the agent to provide him or
her with the appropriate tools to handle the barrage of frustrated calls they will handle every day. Following
is a short discussion, Free Online Call Center Training perhaps, on how to deal with difficult callers.

Training tip #1 - Starting the call: Each and every call MUST start in a friendly and upbeat fashion. Any
call where the agent does not sound cordial (fake it if you must), and ready to help is already on the road to
disaster. It is much more difficult for a frustrated caller to mistreat a happy sounding rep than one that
sounds like he/she should have gone home hours ago.

Training tip #2 - Putting yourself in the customer's shoes (Empathy): We are all customers of many
establishments, and as such we demand for whatever it is we are buying to meet certain expectations.
When our expectations are not met frustration ensues, which can escalate to outright anger depending on
how well the customer service person handles our complaint. When dealing with angry callers, remember
how it feels to be let down and what you expect from others as they try to address your concerns.

Training tip #3 - Never blame the customer: This point may be hard to follow as many customer issues
tend to be self inflicted; however, it is unwise and unprofessional to put the customer on the defensive.
Moreover, customers should not be expected to know even the most obvious of facts about your product or
service. What may be crystal clear to one person, may be confusing and unfamiliar to another. If the issue
was caused by the customer, he/she will feel better about the situation if you allow the customer time to
realize how the issue came to exist and then partner with him to correct it. No need to rub it in.

Training tip #4 - Don't win: As a customer service agent, your role is to assist people in need, period. If it
weren't for the mishaps and issues that people encounter you would not have a job. Be thankful that
customers run into problems that must be solved with your assistance , and in remembering this fact let the
customer "win" the discussion. It may sometimes be difficult to let callers hang-up thinking that they got one
over you or the company, but in the end that's what mature people do. They allow others to feel good about
their small victories, while understanding the difference between losing an argument and winning a loyal
customer (who will help pay your salary).

Sensory Intelligence

Call centres: a scary work place?

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 09:27

By Annemarie Lombard, CEO of Sensory Intelligence
I was looking for the craziest, wildest, busiest, most sensory overloaded and insane work environment
… I clearly found it in the call centre, OK, contact centre industry.
The first time I walked into a call centre I was blown away. Although absolutely electrifying for me,
and certainly switching on an extra few brain wires, I immediately knew with certainty that this
environment would be a recipe for disaster for about 20% of the population.
Local and international research shows that 20% of the population are highly sensory sensitive to
information derived from the environment. This means that their DNA and brain circuits have an over-
intake of sensory (see, hear, touch, smell, taste, move) information.
Sensory overload is of utmost relevance to them as they experience the world as too loud, too bright,
too fast, too tight … plainly just too much.
Needless to say the call centre environment is completely overwhelming for them and results in stress,
absenteeism, performance issues and ultimately attrition.
Even though they often manage to put effort into tolerating this environment, it often works for only a
short period of time. Ever thought why the critical period for losing agents is usually within the first 90
days of being employed?
Although our sensory processing takes place in the unconscious parts of our brain functioning, it is
critical for species survival.
Intuitively we learn what works for us and what not, but mostly - and too often - through trial and error.
Your sensory-sensitive call centre agents would only realise this when they have been recruited, trained
and positioned on the call centre seat.
And, suffice to say, thousands of rands later the realisation hits: I hate this job. Research also clearly
corroborates the prevalence of high levels of stress within the industry.
However, when placed in data capturing, e-mail support, or quality assurance, these same individuals
would most often perform at very high levels.
Traditionally, these processes, are usually performed in more contained, less sensory overloaded
sections and require awareness, attention to detail and rigid processing. Your 20% unsuitable front
office callers are well suited for these roles.
My quest as an occupational therapist has been to prove that sensory profiles do correlate with work
performance, absenteeism and attrition of call centre agents.
Correlation results through my doctoral research clearly indicate that your 20% highly sensitive agents
spend longer time on after-call work, have longer holding times and lower quality assurance ratings.
The quest continues…
The four main pillars in the call centre industry are people, premises, processes and technology. They
are obviously all crucial for sustainability and efficiency, but with the human resource allocation being
the biggest hurdle.
Your call centre agent is the key to delivering service, sales or collections, utilising your business
process and operations to capture the essence of your client audience.
Occupational science is a body of knowledge about how we analyse work environments and the people
functioning within them. Goodness-of-fit is the vital key to support the fact that matching your talent
and workforce to the job description and work environment will ensure productive, less stressed, and
sustainable employees.
It just makes plain business sense to ensure a best-fit match for the call centre industry
in particular. The industry is known for high training and operational costs, with agent
attrition and absenteeism a common problem. This impacts on the bottom line for the
company, but also depletes corporate wellness for the individual.
Sensory intelligence has two main objectives for the call centre industry: Firstly, to
ensure return on investments for companies. If you are spending R17264.00 (average industry figure
South Africa 2007) on training an agent, shouldn’t you ensure up-front that they are suited for the
Secondly, a mismatch in the industry impacts on wellness for the agents. Unsuitable agents end up with
a high degree of stress and anxiety which have detrimental effects on health and wellness, and results in
inflated health care costs.
As many agents are young and often find themselves in call centres as an entry level job, the degree of
failure and difficulty to manage have far-reaching impacts on their personal self esteem and confidence.
Therefore, ensure you select agents with more care, and consider their sensory profiles to ensure
sustainability in the environment.
Other considerations to ensure workforce optimisation are also to ensure you have a well set up call
centre with good equipment, enough space, air, ventilation, chill rooms (not glorified tea rooms),
leadership that thinks and acts laterally, and ongoing coaching and development.
The call centre business model works, locally and abroad, with unprecedented growth and has huge job
creation opportunities for South Africa.
How sensory intelligent is your call centre?
Annemarie Lombard is a registered occupational therapist and founder/CEO of Sensory Intelligence.
Contact her on 084 661 1010 or visit Sensory Intelligence for sensory intelligent solutions for your
contact centre.
Emotional dissonance, emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction in call centre workers
K. A. Lewig; M. F. Dollard , European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2003,
Volume 12, Issue 4, Pages 366 – 392

customer service
customer service, customer support and skills training guide, standards and
customer service code of practice, and complaints handling tips, and poor customer
service case study
Customer service, especially in the shape of a call-centre - is to customers one of the most visible and
significant aspects of organizational performance.
To many organizations however customer service is one of the most challenging and neglected areas of
management, including those with modern call-centres.
For customers the quality of customer service determines whether to buy, and particularly whether to
remain a customer.
Think for a moment how you yourself behave as a customer. You can perhaps think of an occasion
when poor customer service or an unhappy exchange with a call-centre has driven you to leave a
supplier, even if the quality and value of the product or service itself is broadly satisfactory.
The significance of customer service eludes many senior executives, let alone the methods of
establishing and managing customer service standards and quality. Our own experiences as customers
demonstrate all the time that many large organizations fail particularly to empower customer-facing
and call-centre staff, and also fail to design policies and systems to empower customer-facing staff and
enable effective customer service. Often these are defensive strategies because staff are not trusted, and
because competition is feared, or because simply the policy-makers and systems-designers are too far
removed from customers and their customer service expectations.
Pricing strategy also plays a part on customer service - especially strategies which effectively
discriminate against existing customers in favour of new customers, which in certain situations borders
on the unethical, never mind being stupid in a customer service context.
This is strange since by any reasonable measure or criteria - in any market or industry - it costs far
more to gain new customers than to retain existing customers. Neglecting, constraining or failing to
optimise customer services capabilities is waste of great opportunities.
Instead many organizations and their leaders are habitually fixated on sales, marketing, advertising and
promotion - desperately striving to attract new customers - while paying scant regard to the many
customers that are leaving, just for the want of some simple effective customer service and care. We see
this particularly in highly competitive and profitable sectors such as communications and financial
services, where new customers are commonly extended better terms and attention than existing
customers. No wonder customer turnover ('churn') in these industries can reach levels exceeding 25%.
Leaders and spokespeople will blame the competitive market, and the fickleness of customers, but
ultimately when a customer leaves a supplier it's because they are unhappy about the service they are
receiving - otherwise why leave?

benefits of effective customer service

The central aim of effective customer service and call-centres is retaining customers, but when an
organization gets this right the acquisition of new customers - and so many other things - automatically
becomes much easier too.
Retaining customers - enabled by excellent customer service - produces many positive benefits for the
organization aside from the obvious revenue and profit results:
• Retaining customers through effective customer service enables easier growth, indirectly and
directly, for example by sustaining healthier volumes and margins, and by business expansion
from word-of-mouth referrals.
• High levels of customer retention via effective customer service also improves staff morale and
motivation. No-one enjoys working for an organization that feels like a sinking ship, or where
stressful arguments or pressures prevail. When customers are happy, all the staff are happier too
- and more productive.
• Improved staff morale and motivation resulting from reducing customer attrition also positively
benefits staff retention and turnover, recruitment quality and costs, stress, grievance, discipline
and counselling pressures.
• Reduced customer attrition and upset naturally reduces litigation and legal problems, from
customers or fair trading laws.
• Retaining customers also enables the whole organization - especially middle-managers - to
focus more on proactive opportunities (growth, innovation, development, etc) rather than
reactive fire-fighting, crisis management, failure analysis, and the negative high pressures to
win replacement business.
• Having a culture of delighting and retaining customers fuels positive publicity and reputation in
the media, and increasingly on the web in blogs and forums, etc. The converse applies of
course, when nowadays just one disgruntled customer and a reasonable network of web friends
can easily cause a significant public relations headache.
For these and other reasons the cost difference and relative impacts on organizations between gaining
and retaining customers can be staggering.
A useful analogy is that only a fool tries to fill a bucket of water when the bucket has lots of holes.
Better to fix the holes and stop the leaks before you try to fill the bucket.
Especially consider the actual cost of retaining customers when all that many customers require is
not to be upset.
While the trend is apparently for more people to complain (mobile phones and the internet make it
easier to do so, and people are less tolerant than they used to be) this does not necessarily mean that
customers are more likely to migrate to competitors.
In fact these days time pressures and the 'hassle factor' combine to create huge inertia in people's
decision-making, which means although they might complain more, they have less inclination to
actually change suppliers because of the time and inconvenience of doing so. There are arguably some
exceptions in fast-changing sectors, but largely inertia tends to make it more likely for customers to
stay than go.
People behave like organizations, when the true costs of change in time and hassle are recognised often
to be greater than the savings that the change will achieve.
Consequently most people prefer not to change suppliers - they have better things to do with their time
- which means that retaining customers should actually be easy - if only organizations would attend to
the basic customer service principles and keep customers happy. In short, customers largely don't
usually leave unless they are upset enough to do so.
Contrast the cost of achieving happy customers - virtually zero aside from normal customer service and
operating overheads required to run a business - with the costs of marketing, advertising, selling, sales
training, sales management, credit-control and account set-up, that necessarily arise in the acquisition
of new customers.
Consider also that the main factor in keeping a customer - even if the situation appears irretrievable -
often comes down to a simple apology or update - just by keeping someone informed and avoiding
upset - and compare this with the huge costs of acquiring a new customer.
It is then easy to see that the costs of gaining a customer can be five, ten, a hundred or a thousand
times greater than retaining a customer.
And yet from the customers' view many organizations seem unaware or dismissive of the need to
prioritise great customer service above many other perhaps more exciting or fashionable initiatives -
typically related to sales, marketing, advertising, technology, the web, etc.
These high-profile customer acquisition activities, plus systems, policies, procedures, training, etc., all
play a major role in running a high-quality organization, but the glue which holds it all together for the
customer - and often the only thing that really matters to the customer, is the quality of customer
service that the customer feels and experiences.
Within customer service there are many elements which must be organised to make effective customer
service happen properly - pricing strategy is important of course - but the crucial constant factor is the
human element - how people are treated and communicated with - because simply, customers are
people, and people tend to behave like people and respond to people - they do not behave like
computers, and they do not respond like machines.
Policies, systems, technology all enable customer service, but none of these actually determines
effective customer service. Only people - your employees - can do this, particularly when serious
problems arise which by their nature must be escalated to a 'real person'.
People - your employees - also (if encouraged and enabled) perform another critical customer service
function - that of giving feedback and suggestions to improve customer service systems, policies,
processes, technology, etc. Often policies and technology are dreamt up by managers or consultants
working away from the actual day-to-day customer-facing activity. Feedback and recommendations
from customer service staff - and customers too - are vital in refining and improving the systems and
policies within which the function is operating. So again, people - your employees - are the most
crucial in shaping effective customer services capabilities.
Ignorance and avoidance of these factors is a problem, but also a big opportunity.
Where customer service is neglected and ignored the function is powerful lever waiting to be pulled.
Improving customer service - especially empowering and listening to customer service staff - offers
many organizations a bigger return on investment than any other initiative.
Customer service is generally the critical factor in determining whether a customer buys and is
retained, which is ultimately what the organization exists to do - to serve and retain customers.

The 2007 British Standard Code of Practice for Customer Service, number BS 8477:2007 provides an
excellent basis for understanding, planning or reviewing your customer service approach.
The Code of Practice is summarised and reviewed below.
The full Customer Service Code of Practice is an excellent template for anyone considering how to
address customer services, whether setting up a customer service capability for the first time, or
seeking to improve and existing customer service department or team.

customer service code of practice (british standard BS 8477)

While other customer service standards exist in various forms around the world the British Standards
Institute offers a useful and authoritative interpretation which will transfer to most situations.
The British Standard Code of Practice for Customer Service was published by the British Standards
Institute (BSI) and became effective on 16 April 2007, under the authority of the BSI Technical
Committee responsible for Relationship Management Systems.
You can obtain the full BS 8477 Customer Service Code of Practice at the BSI website, cost £72 or
half-price for members (prices correct at August 2007).
As a Code of Practice, this standard is one of guidance and recommendation - it is not a formal or
mandatory specification and should not be offered, implemented or quoted as such.
The Introduction of the code of practice references the Harvard Business Review in summarising the
main benefits of improving customer satisfaction via effective customer service as being (the '3Rs'):
• retention
• related sales
• referrals
It also refers to the research by the (British) Institute of Customer Service (ICS) in identifying the most
important elements of service delivery according to customers:
1. timeliness
2. appearance
3. courtesy
4. quality and efficiency
5. ease of doing business
6. problem-solving
These are interpreted into an alternative set of '3Rs' for effective non-commercial, public sector
customer services and service delivery:
• responsive
• reliable
• respectful
BSI suggests that the Customer Service Code of Practice will assist organisations to:
1. Establish effective customer service mechanisms
2. Improve competitiveness
3. Differentiate their offering via innovative customer services
4. Build customer loyalty through positive customer service experience
5. Increase customer retention
6. Attract new customers via word of mouth
7. Reduce marketing costs
8. Increase service efficiency
9. Reduce complaints and complaints handling resources and costs
10.Improve compliance with consumer trading laws
11.Improve services and accountability (especially for public sector organizations)
12.Develop and sustain organization-wide focus on customers and quality
13.Improve ease of dealing with organization for customers
Proactivity and anticipation are identified as crucial underpinning factors in working with the code of
The code of practice is primarily aimed at organizations with external customers, but the principles
apply to relations with internal customers too, and apply to all organizations regardless of size and
industry sector - including small consultancies and sub-contractors.
These Customer Service Principles are outlined and regarded as essential:
1. Commitment (at all levels)
2. Credibility (keep promises)
3. Culture (customer service ethos)
4. Competencies (of staff - in recruitment, training and assessment)
5. Responsibility (clear and supported with suitable authority - with at least one person responsible
for customer problems)
6. Resources (adequate for effectiveness)
7. Identification and management of all customer service issues
8. Quality (of customer service - relevant input and review)
9. Feedback (enabled for customers and employees)
10.Continual improvement (to meet or exceed customer expectations)
11.Internal customers (establish concept and communications)
The code of practice outlines the Implementation obligations for each main group of workers,
(critically within which is the appointment of a dedicated customer service manager):
1. Top management - establish resources, responsibilities, processes, reporting, empowerment,
culture, etc
2. Customer service management - detailed processes, financial management of customer services,
staffing and training, legal, complaints handling and escalation
3. Employees - awareness of customer services aims, responsibilities and benefits
4. Customer service employees - competent, aware, committed, etc
And gives Operational Recommendations for: *The document actually uses the word
'timelines' in the Operational
Recommendations section heading,
1. Timeliness/responsiveness - for enquiries, orders, which almost certainly refers to
deliveries, appointments and complaints* 'timeliness' - meaning 'on time' - since
2. Provision of information to customers - at each stage of this terminology occurs frequently
the purchasing process elsewhere. (As a complete diversion
3. Customer interaction - for all the ways and reasons it's fascinating how one letter can
change the word altogether, and yet
which customers are engaged retain a very similar meaning.)
4. Documentation - relating to service
5. Corrective action - in response to problems

And outlines principles for the Maintenance of effective customer services, entailing:
1. Feedback - staff, customers, systems
2. Audits
3. Benchmarking
4. Complaints
The code of practice also contains an annex covering the Recruitment, Competencies and Training
of Customer Services Employees, also covering motivational factors and recommendations, conduct
and behavioural development. The customer service staff competencies are summarised as:
1. Interpersonal and empathy
2. Communication
3. Handling stress
4. Active listening
5. Team-working
6. Problem-solving and complaints-handling
7. Product and organization knowledge
8. Commitment to aims and values of organization
The 2007 BSI Code of Practice for Customer Service is an excellent template and essential reference
material for anyone involved with introducing or managing customer service.
You can obtain the full BS 8477 Customer Service Code of Practice at the BSI website. Cost is £72 or
half-price for members (prices correct at August 2007).
Here are details of BSI Membership, which will be a useful subscription for anyone routinely
concerned with standards and codes of practice.

other customer service standards interpretations

The British Institute of Customer Service (ICS) promotes best practice for customer service. The ICS
provides its own interpretation of how to establish customer service standards, together with some
supporting research and information. This is a helpful additional perspective of customer service
alongside the BSI Code of Practice.
The ICS guidance for setting up customer service standards focuses on:
Defining the service standards outlines three sections -
• Timeliness - the essential time-related performance standards for each stage of customer
engagement and process
• Accuracy - how reliably the customer's experiences match the supplier's promises
• Appropriateness - common-sense honesty, integrity and fitness for purpose
Creating the standards, identifies seven main groups who should have input -
1. Management
2. Employees
3. Existing customers
4. Potential customers
5. Lost or former customers
6. Competitors
7. Regulatory authorities
Other ICS customer service pointers -
• The number and extent of standards should reflect the situation and size of the organization.
• Measurement and technology are important aspects of implementation, for which senior
management is responsible.
• Ownership, visibility and commitment are identified as crucial in implementation.
• ownership - starts at the top - there must be accountability somewhere for everything
• visibility - must enable awareness and two-way communications among all staff
• commitment - to customers and staff
• Standards enable performance to be properly managed and measured.
• Sales and marketing functions should resist making claims in promotional material and selling
pitches until standards have been demonstrably met and sustained.
• Standards must be reviewed every 12-18 months, because fundamentally standards are market-
driven, and the market is always changing.
some complaints statistics
The ICS also has some interesting things to say about complaints handling.
The statistics are from their joint survey with training company TMI in 2001 - shortly to be updated -
some of which echo similar studies and anecdotal references used in customer services training
• More people are complaining than used to be the case - especially older people, of which two-
thirds of people over 50 apparently complain very often if dissatisfied about a product or
• Having a complaint resolved apparently causes most customers to recommend the supplier to
• 80% of customers tell someone if their complaint is not handled well.
• Only 25% of staff feel qualified to deal with complaints.
• Only 33% of customer-facing staff have received specific training in dealing with angry
The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) is a membership organization which promotes and defines
educational and operational standards for customer service, including input to vocational customer
service qualifications.

complaints handling and customer service role tips

Here are some useful principles for handling complaints and the customer service role itself. These
suggestions are primarily for customer service staff and those concerned with customer service training
and customer service staff motivation and development. Some suggestions for organizations and
leaders follow below.
Of course it's easier to describe these suggestions than to put them into practice in the heat of the
moment. Customer service can be an extremely demanding and stressful role - especially for those
involved in high pressure sectors such as communications, finance, distribution and logistics, public
services and utilities, education and healthcare, computers and IT support, when customers' emotions
can run very high indeed - especially if at the same time management and executives appear to be blind
to the needs of staff and customers alike.
Like any skill, real expertise comes with practising techniques under pressure. Expertise is the key
word here, because customer service is an expert role which should be treated and acknowledged as
This is the first step towards developing and improving performance and enjoyment in the customer
service role - to regard customer service as a real expertise in its own right, rather than a stop-gap
job, or a stepping-stone into sales.
Shamefully many large organizations do little to raise the profile and reputation of the customer service
profession itself, and if you are working for one of these ridiculous organizations please keep
reminding yourself that regardless of how customers and your employer treat you, you are doing a
highly demanding and sophisticated job. Your experiences and the skills you are learning are extremely
transferable and will be of enormous value to you in whatever you do later in life.
Self-sufficiency and inner-resolve are therefore useful attributes to foster in the customer service role,
that is to say: if your employer isn't valuing you or helping you, then you must do it for yourself.
Remember that the customer service role contains the essential elements of some very specialised and
highly regarded professions, such as counselling, coaching, teaching, training, consulting and project
management, such are the skills and behaviours required to perform the customer service role well.
Also interestingly, if performed well, the customer service role is far more sophisticated than a basic
selling role, which is ironic considering how both roles are positioned in many organizations.
The customer service role by its nature requires a greater ability in problem-solving and (albeit not
always on a grand scale) project management than many sales roles. Customer service also tends to
connect to - and requires cooperation with - far more internal functions than a basic selling role. In fact
customer service has much in common with a major accounts sales role, given the emphasis on
mediating, problem-solving and the need to react positively and creatively to diverse and unpredictable
customer situations. And while this explains why so many of the best sales people started their careers
in customer service, it certainly does not follow that the sales role is more important or more
demanding than customer service. Usually the opposite is true - ask most customers. Many
organizations could do well to think more creatively about where they put their emphasis in respect of
customer service and selling.
Central also to the value and expertise of the customer service role is the strong emphasis on emotional
skills demanded in modern customer service. Dealing with emotional people, and solving problems
with significant emotional implications, require the same capabilities and attitudes found in many
specialised professions involved with helping, healing and developing people.
So look upon the stresses and pressures of customer service as your own personal free training for one
day becoming, if you want to, a professional expert in whatever specialised field interests you. A
couple of years in high-pressure customer service is super and relevant experience for moving into any
people-related profession, especially if you can augment your experience with a little background
psychology or other relevant technical theory along the way.

complaints handling tips

Emotional complaints are usually the most difficult to handle, so these tips focus mainly on the more
challenging complaints scenarios.
Aspects of Transactional Analysis theory are helpful in understanding and managing emotionally
charged situations. Understanding where anger and upset come from and what triggers these emotions
can help us to remain objective, and to separate the emotion from the actual content or facts of the
matter. Transactional Analysis is a tremendously useful way to develop this understanding and the
interpersonal (and self-awareness) capabilities which can be so helpful in handling difficult complaints
and emotional people.
Many complaints are made by phone - in which case immediately take the person's phone number and
explain you've done this in case the line is cut off, which helps pre-empt and diffuse a major cause of
distress and frustration. Demonstrating that you have anticipated and guarded against this is a very
positive first step, and this is especially helpful if the customer has been hanging on the phone, been
transferred, or made previous attempts to resolve the problem.
If your policy permits giving your name and direct line then give both. In an age of anonymity, faceless
voices, avoiding responsibility, and ridiculous impenetrable automated answerphone menu systems,
when you demonstrate a swift firm clear personal responsibility for someone this is another big positive
If your policy permits it - which ideally it should do, although the policies of some large organizations
prevent it - tell the customer that you will take care of the problem until it is resolved. This is your
personal commitment to see it through. Even if you rely on others to fix it, the customer is seeking
someone to look after them from start to finish. Customers failing to find anyone to accept personal
responsibility for resolving their problem or complaint is a major cause of extra upset and frustration,
so when a distressed customer finds someone who promises to take responsibility this lifts an enormous
Listen - let the other person talk and explain - and let them emotionally unload too if that's what they
need to do.
When you listen, listen with feeling and empathy - the other person will be acutely sensitive to (and
enraged further by) an automaton-like reaction, so try to really empathise on an individual and special
When someone is very angry, exasperated or distressed, try to remember that they are feeling rather
like a child does when upset and seeking reassurance or help from a parent or grown-up. They want to
unload, and often just allowing people to do this will alleviate 90% of the problem, although do not
ever expect any customers to admit to this. Think about your own experience when complaining
emotionally about something - it is very difficult to remain angry and emotional much beyond a minute
or two if the customer services person is really listening, allowing you to unburden, and understanding
how you feel.
Do not confuse anger and rage on the other end of the line with adult behaviour - it is just another form
of child-like tantrum or upset, and it needs absorbing calmly and sympathetically in an adult way. By
your behaving calmly and being grown-up (which definitely does not mean acting officiously or
patronisingly) the sooner the other person will be able to shift from 'child' or 'sergeant-major' back to
sensible grown-up again. Again you might find the Transactional Analysis theory helpful in
understanding how and why this happens.
Take notes. Get the facts. And take time and let it be known that you are doing so. This shows you are
taking the problem seriously, that you value their words and their time spent explaining the problem.
Also, by encouraging the other person to focus on the facts you can help to move the engagement away
from emotion and into content and facts, which will normally reduce the stress for both of you.
Try to step back and look at the situation objectively with the other person, rather than getting drawn
into confrontation or a head-to-head. Encourage the approach where you both work on the problem
together to agree what should happen next. Keep control obviously, but involve the other person in
your thinking and decision-making.
Understand how the other person feels. This is not the same as agreeing. It's important to show
understanding. It is not possible to agree with an emotional interpretation or a mood, and until the facts
are properly known it's not always possible to agree with even a perfectly balanced unemotional and
reasonable claim or complaint unless or until you can substantiate the facts or claim. But you can
always show that you understand how the other person feels, and this is a very big part of the
customer's need at the time of complaining.
Of course if the complaint is plainly justified and clearly demonstrates a failing in your organization's
service or product then you must acknowledge and apologise for the problem without dispute, and then
focus on resolving and recovering the situation.
By understanding and being empathic about the other persons emotions they will often naturally extend
you some leeway for a little firmness where required about your processes and the next steps. On
occasions customer's expectations and demands are not realistic, which needs managing of course. The
worst thing is to promise or agree to remedial actions or compensation that you will subsequently be
unable to deliver. You will find it easier to be firm where you need to be if you have first shown a
strong understanding of how the other person feels.
Rapport - trust - is necessary before you can move forward.
Here are examples of how to combine emotional understanding with control:
"Okay, I really understand and agree with you that this is very/unbelievably
frustrating/annoying/stressful/upsetting/enraging to you, but for me to help you I must work within our
processes, otherwise it'll be you and me on the outside trying to resolve this. My job is to find a
solution for you and that's what I'll try to do if we can work together on this. Can we agree to go
forward like that?"
If pressurised to agree or commit outside of what is reasonable or authorised you have to be firm and
"That's not something that would or could be agreed at this stage if at all, I'm sorry. The customers who
arrive at the best outcomes are those who allow us to work through our processes and consider the
situation properly. I can't pre-judge it and I'm sure you wouldn't want to be dealing with me if I
promised you something without knowing I could give it. If you let me help you with this I assure you
that's the way to resolve this quickest and best. Can we go forward like that?"
Tell the customer what process or steps you will use to resolve the problem, which should always
include a clear commitment to provide updates if appropriate, details of how decisions will be made,
and how any remedial changes will be considered and incorporated into future procedures to prevent a
recurrence. Many customers like to know that their complaint has been useful in helping the
organization to improve its operations, and where this opportunity arises you should feed
recommendations back internally and inform the customer accordingly.
Unless you are empowered to make exceptional arrangements you must work within your policies and
systems. If you do not agree with your policies and systems then go through proper channels to
recommend constructive changes, preferably supported with a brief business justification.
If your employer does not allow you to make recommendations then find another employer who will
value your effort and commitment to the role. There are plenty of organizations out there who need all
the good customer service people they can find.
In essence the professional customer service role is being an expert translator and mediator - a crucial
pivot - in reconciling customer needs with organizational capabilities. At best the role will even
influence organizational capabilities through good feedback and recommendations.
In keeping with such a role, you are a mediator, facilitator, and enabler. Remembering and aspiring to
these qualities will help you do a great job and to keep an aura of calm and professional authority while
doing so.

customer service tips for organizations and leaders

For organizations needing to improve their customer service, gathering and reviewing customer
complaints is the quickest way to draft an action list. Consulting customer service staff is also essential.
For all organizations, customer complaints and feedback from customer-facing staff will keep you
constantly aware of areas to improve to keep up with changing markets needs and expectations.
Treat complaints about service failures like precious gems, because they are that valuable.
Organizations pay huge fees to researchers and survey companies to discover their weaknesses,
whereas complaints effectively provide the same data for free. Moreover, each service failure
complaint is a very specific prompt to improve a process or policy or someone's training somewhere.
Wasting or losing these gems is daft.
So welcome and encourage complaints, don't fear or hide from them, or pretend you are fantastic
because you (make sure that you) don't get any complaints.
Make it as easy for people to complain as to buy. There's a challenge for you..
Here are some common mistakes that organizations make about customer service and complaints
handling in particular:

• Make it difficult for people to complain, e.g., long-winded contact method on your website.
• Make it difficult for customer service staff to give feedback and to influence customer service
systems and policies.
• Treat the customer service function like a battery hen farm.
• Fail to have a complaints handling process which you have tested and had approved by
complaining customers.
• Fail to appoint anyone responsible for managing complaints handling.
• Fail to inform staff about the value of complaints and the need to encourage and respond to
• Refuse to escalate complaints and problems, or make escalation to a higher level difficult.
• Refuse to give customers the names of senior managers and executives and their contact details.
• Fail to put free or local-rate customer services phone numbers on your invoices and website.
• Fail to show clearly and make available your head office contact details.
• Fail to expose senior managers and executives to complaining customers.
• Pretend to have a customer service department but merely outsource a basic message-taking
• Offer an automated telephone menu system which excludes appropriate and easy options to
• Design punitive termination penalties for customers wishing to cancel their contracts and
instruct your customer service staff to use such threats freely and forcefully.

instead do..
Check your culture. This comes from the top and pervades everything. So this is ultimately for the
CEO or the shareholders to start changing if it's not right.
There is little point in implementing a wonderfully robust and logical customer service code of practice
if your culture can't support it.
So this section is really all about culture and particularly how you treat staff ans customers. All the rest
is relatively easy and mechanical for any decent modern management team, because aside from culture,
customer service relies on sensible service and pricing strategies and the processes to sell and deliver
then and to sort out problems. What makes the real difference is how you involve and treat people
within these processes. Which all comes back to culture.
The culture must be one of really honestly respecting and valuing staff and customers. When you have
this culture the human element gets to work: relationships and communications work, problems are
solved, internally and externally people focus on looking after colleagues and customers, rather than
merely working systems, executing processes and adhering to policies. The organisation has life -
becomes organic - rather than operating as an inflexible machine or a set of instructions.
In the context of customer service, a good indication of culture is how easy it is to complain. In lots of
big organizations it's actually very difficult to complain, and even more difficult to complain and be
taken seriously.
You must make it easy for people - customers and staff - to contact you and complain, by email, post
and especially by phone, and to every level in your organization - especially to the CEO.
Executives who never see complaints are deluding themselves. On the pretext of protecting their
precious executive time, countless senior managers and executives are oblivious of what is happening
in their business. Worse still this ostrich-like example teaches all managers that avoiding complaints is
the way to manage customers, which as a customer service strategy is what might technically be
referred to as a load of bollocks. Ask your customers what they think about senior managers and
executives hiding from complaints and most people will use far stronger terms than that.
Executives who hide from complaints also tend to develop a culture among managers and all staff that
is scared of complaints, which naturally causes people to cover up complaints and to distort complaints
and failure statistics even when asked to report on them.
Megalomaniac, autocratic and egocentric leaders are particularly prone to this syndrome, in which
customer satisfaction information is obscured and massaged so that the entire senior management
moves from denial to blissful ignorance, while the customer service staff continue to act as a super-
absorbent firewall, until one day - when the customer churn is nudging 25% - the board finally realises
that they do indeed have a problem, and that the market and the competition and the customers - and
the customer service staff - are not to blame for it. The problem is the leadership: the culture, the
systems, the policies, the strategies - out of step with what the customers need and expect.
Interestingly this stems from the insecurity which drives certain traditional leadership styles and
cultures, in which criticism is seen as a threat rather than a useful reflective and improvement aid. If
you are one of these leaders please go get some therapy before you do any more harm to your staff and
customers. Arrogance and bluster are not effective behaviours by which to run a proper business in the
21st century, let alone to encourage and inspire employees and managers to strive for customer service
Instead expose yourself to all the complaints you can find. Remember - you would normally pay a
researcher lots of money for this information. And each complaint gives you the chance to solve a
customer's problem, which often means that you then get to keep that customer for life.
To do this you will need to check that your complaint handling process works for your most awkward
customers and for your most passive customers. This will turn many of your most awkward customers
into your best customers, and some of your most passive customers into awkward customers, but you
will now be receiving complaints, which if you were not seeing any before is a major advance.
With all these new complaints you will need some expert input and ideas about how to improve things.
Lucky for you, your employees are the world's best experts at improving your services to your
customers, so it makes sense to ask for their help.
Obviously ensure your customers' complaints are resolved along the way, and equally importantly, help
the organization to develop the capability (and culture) to identify the causes of problems and to rectify
the root causes, to prevent the problems happening again.
It's a lot simple rwhen you get the culture right. Open all the communications. Encourage complaints.
Fix the problems and the systems. Utilise your people to contribute to the whole process.
Empower and encourage your customer service staff to give feedback about the systems and policies
within which you expect them to work and deliver great customer service. Train and develop and
nurture and love your customer service staff - they are almost certainly your most under-valued and
under-utilized asset. They will perform as you treat them. If you treat customer service staff like battery
hens don't expect them to take much of an interest in your organization.
Think creatively about the emphasis and status you give to the customer service role. Customer service
staff are widely under-valued and under-utilised. They are by nature extremely helpful and loyal
people, capable of doing a lot more for you than they are typically empowered to do. So empower
them, and you will see significant improvements in customer satisfaction, because the experts will be
taking care of it for you.

customer service case study

This is a true story.
The name of the organization is not given, to protect the well meaning customer service staff from
embarrassment. Given the current economic climate and intense difficulties within the banking
industry, they have enough to worry about.
As ever, when things go wrong with customer service, it is rarely the fault of the customer service staff,
who almost without exception do their best to do a good job. When things go wrong with customer
service, and especially with subsequent complaints and remedial action (or absence thereof) the faults
lie in the policies and attitudes of the executives running the corporation, who are responsible for
providing systems, training, and information fit for purpose. In this case study, many of those crucial
functions are not adequately designed, or even monitored.
week what happened
1 A small village sports club appoints a new treasurer at its annual general meeting.
Accordingly the new treasurer needs to be added to the bank account as a signatory and the
main contact for bank statements, etc. The club secretary visits the local branch, where the
club has been a customer since its foundation in 1980. The account has never been
overdrawn. The branch is not open on Saturdays, so it is suggested that the new treasurer
visits the main city branch to prove his identity (which he is required to do in person with a
passport and a utility bill, because he is not a customer of the bank), and to complete and
sign the necessary two forms, which will then be sent to the local village branch for counter-
signature and processing. Secretary questions whether this will work and is reassured that it
certainly would. What could go wrong?...
2 The new treasurer visits city branch during his lunch hour, explains he is new treasurer to be
added to the relevant club/society account as a new signatory, shows and has his ID checked
and copied, completes and signs forms provided, and later notifies the club secretary that he
has completed this part of the process.
3 Secretary visits local branch to check if the paperwork has been received at the local branch
for counter-signature. It has not. Local branch staff attempts to check on status of paperwork
but is unable to locate it. Secretary agrees to return a week later.
4 Secretary again visits local branch to check if the paperwork has been received at the local
branch for counter-signature. It has not. Local branch staff attempts to check on status of
paperwork but is unable to locate it. Local branch staff asks secretary to ask new treasurer if
he can remember which member of staff dealt with him at the city branch. New treasurer, not
surprisingly, cannot remember name of staff member, and the only details he can remember -
gender and ethnicity - are not particularly helpful given the potential to be attached to blame.
5 Secretary visits local branch and is told that the paperwork cannot be located, and (in the
absence of any other option) can only suggest that the Treasurer repeats the process - i.e.,
visits city branch with ID and completes forms, for them to be sent to local branch, etc.
5 The secretary calls the bank complaints department, and asks that the matter be escalated to
ensure either that the paperwork is located, or is given suitable priority to resolve quickly
with minimum fuss. Central complaints department states that escalation procedure is to
refer the matter back to the branch, and also is unable to provide phone number for manager
or area manager. Instead a request was logged for the area manager to call the club secretary.
No other complaints options are offered.
5 Secretary telephones city branch to do his own investigation and fortunately the call is
answered by a particularly sharp member of staff, who checks the system, looking for the
name of the new treasurer, and finds that his name and validated identity are indeed on the
system - but there is a problem: he was given the wrong forms to sign, for a personal
account, not a club/society account. The matter is escalated by the staff member to a
supervisor at the branch who promises to have a pack of the correct forms ready for the
treasurer's next visit to the city branch, which is duly arranged.
6 Treasurer again visits the city branch during his lunch hour, to sign the correct forms, but on
this occasion he sees a different staff member and his proof of identity is not acceptable (he
has recently moved) although the same ID was accepted the first time on the wrong forms.
The treasurer leaves the branch and notifies the secretary of the stalemate, and another
wasted lunch hour.
7 The secretary telephones the city branch. The supervisor apologizes for the
misunderstanding and offers to send the forms in the post to the treasurer, saying that he will
not need to visit in person and that his ID is acceptable. The forms are sent.
8 The treasurer signs the forms and takes them to the secretary. The secretary takes the forms
to the local branch, along with a copy of the AGM notes showing the appointment of the
new treasurer, and his own ID. The staff consult with each other and decide that the
signature of the outgoing treasurer is also required to validate the application. The secretary
questions this requirement on the basis of it being unconstitutional and daft: surely the
signature of the club chairman would be appropriate, rather than an outgoing official. The
branch staff says it will investigate, and the secretary says he will do likewise.
8 The secretary again calls the bank central complaints department to attempt to resolve the
matter, but again is told that the matter can only be 'escalated' back to the branch; also that
the telephone number of the area manager cannot be divulged, and that the response time -
even for emergencies - is 5-10 days. When the secretary suggests he will stay on the line
until the matter is escalated the customer service representative states that the policy for such
occasions is to terminate the call.
8 The matter is developing into such a wonderful customer services case study that I contact
the media relations department of the bank and ask for clarification of some of the key points
of customer services policy. The press contact asks for details, which I send. I receive no
reply to my email.
9 Secretary again visits the local branch and is told that the new signatory can be processed
without the approval of the outgoing club official. The forms are duly signed, and
presumably later sent for processing.
10 Secretary again visits the local branch and is told that the new signatory has not yet been
processed, and that the branch staff will chase it up.
11 Secretary again visits the local branch and is told that due to backlog in the central
processing department, the signatory will not be added for at least until at least twelve days
13 Secretary again visits the local branch and is told that the signatory has still not been added.
Branch agrees to chase it.
13 I again contact the media relations department who have no record of my earlier contact.
They ask me to re-send the email. I do, and by now I'm fairly sure I'll want to publish the
case study. I receive no reply.
14 Secretary again visits the local branch and is told that the signatory has still not been added.
Secretary telephones the city branch in an attempt to reach an area manager. Call diverts
automatically to a call centre instead of the city branch, where a the staff investigate and
escalate the matter, and after about an hour's discussion and investigation, the customer is
informed that: the paperwork has been rejected - due to being 'incomplete' - by central
processing and returned to the branch. The bank now seems to realise that there is a problem.
The customer receives a phone call in the evening from the area manager (who apologizes
and says that the matter will now quickly be fixed), and then another phone call in the
morning from the branch manager (saying much the same thing).
15 The secretary again visits the branch to meet with the branch manager, who explains that the
chairman's and secretary's signatures will suffice; that the outgoing officer need not sign the
forms, and - wait for it...... that the treasurer will have to sign new forms again because the
original paperwork has been lost. When I heard this I decided the story was too good to keep
to myself.
16 New forms are signed and submitted to the branch.
17 The new signatory is finally added to the account.
love and spirituality in management and
compassion for humankind - and other ethical reference points for good leadership
and management in business and organisations
"No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread." (Robert
Burton, 1577-1640, English writer and clergyman, from The Anatomy of Melancholy, written 1621-
Love is a strange word to use in the context of business and management, but it shouldn't be.
Love is a normal concept in fields where compassion is second-nature; for example in healthcare and
For those who maybe find the concept of 'love' too emotive or sentimental, the word 'spirituality' is a
useful alternative. Spirituality is a perspective in its own right, and it also represents ideas central to
love as applied to business and organisations, ie., the quality of human existence, personal values and
beliefs, our relationships with others, our connection to the natural world, and beyond.
Some people see love and spirituality as separate things; others see love and spirituality as the same
thing. Either view is fine.
In business and organisations 'love' and/or 'spirituality' mean genuine compassion for humankind, with
all that this implies. We are not talking about romance or sex. Nor are we referring to god or religion,
because while love and spirituality have to a degree been adopted by various religious organisations
and beliefs, here love and spirituality do not imply or require a religious component or affiliation at all.
Far from it. Anyone can love other people. And everyone is in their own way spiritual.
Given that love (or spirituality, whatever your preference) particularly encompasses compassion and
consideration for other people, it follows that spoiling the world somewhere, or spoiling the world for
future generations, is not acceptable and is not a loving thing to do.
Love in business and work means making decisions and conducting oneself in a way that cares for
people and the world we live in.
So why is love (or spirituality) such a neglected concept in business? It hasn't always been so (of which
more later).

how love, compassion and spirituality became unfashionable in

Leaving to one side the obvious associations with office romance and sexual harassment (if you run a
session on this you will need to get any nervous giggles and innuendos out of the way first), it's likely
that love and spirituality became something of a taboo in corporations because 20th century business
was largely concerned with 'left-side brain' perspectives, for example: performance management,
critical reasoning, total quality, strategic planning, financial results, profit, etc.
These are necessary aspects of good business and management, but they are fundamentally
dispassionate. Also they tend to be 'male-oriented' areas. Not always, but they tend to be so, probably
because men are generally more prone towards left-side-brain thinking and working. (See the Benziger
theory section for more understanding about this.)
Historically men dominated the business landscape, and still do today to an extent. Not surprisingly
then male-oriented ideas and priorities - especially dispassionate left-side-brain factors - have tended to
dominate business and organisations.
Conversely love, compassion and spirituality are generally perceived to be female traits. Men are less
likely than women to demonstrate loving, compassionate, spiritual behaviour because of cultural and
social expectations, especially when reinforced by the business traditions already mentioned.
Additionally, in some cases successful business people owe much of their success to a personal drive
borne of insecurity - the motivation to fill a gap or want, which can manifest as relatively unloving,
dispassionate behaviour. Some successful people seem to suppress their spirituality, and to actively
resist love to the point that they cannot even discuss it.
Where unloving dispassionate behaviour exists in a business leader, whatever its cause, this
unavoidably sets the tone for the whole organisation to be unloving and uncaring, and devoid of
spiritual awareness. If this situation is replicated across very many large organisations, as arguably it
has been during the 20th century, then inevitably business and work as a whole tends to be
characterised in the same way - as unloving and uncaring, and certainly not spiritual.
I'm not saying that the western world is run by a load of emotionally insecure mentally dysfunctional
ruthless men (although I bet we've all worked for at least one of them in our time), but arguably there
are certain correlations between aggressive results-driven male behaviour, the short-term business
success demanded by western economic systems, and the organisational and economic cultures that
arose and endured from 'successful', dispassionate anti-spiritual (and mostly male) leadership.
I should also make the point that dispassionate results-driven behaviour is not the exclusive domain of
men. Many successful women in business (and politics) have had to wear the trousers, if not full the
battledress, to beat the men; at a man's game, in a man's world.
Let's acknowledge also the reality that a methodology based on cold-hearted logic and dispassionate
decision-making can produce very effective results, especially short-term, and where clinical leadership
is required to overcome great challenge or difficulty. Moreover tyrants and bullies sometimes succeed.
Some even achieve long-term success (according to their own definition of the word success). And
arguably certain dispassionate methods, where people and environment are not affected, are a perfectly
appropriate part of the business management mix.
However, unloving uncaring methods, which tend to predominate in organisations and to be
passed on through successive leadership generations, are not the entire and only way to run a
business or organisation.
Compounding the situation, the historical prevalence of dispassionate leadership, unloving ideas, and
uncaring behaviour in organisations has tended to determine that reward systems and training and
development methodologies have been correspondingly dispassionate, (staff and suppliers basically do
as they are told after all), and so the whole selfish cycle reinforces itself.
Not surprisingly therefore, ideas about loving people, being compassionate and spirituality are unlikely
to appear in many management training manuals or training courses. Nor are the principles of genuine
tolerance and selfless giving, or the values of forgiveness, or of nurturing your own spirit, because after
all we must love ourselves before we can unconditionally love everyone else, and what's the point of
loving yourself if the idea of loving anyone else is a totally alien concept in the conventional corporate
People who extol the virtues of love and spirituality in organisations have until recently largely been
regarded as cranks - not because love and spirituality doesn't work - but because organisations, and also
the developed western economic world, have evolved to ignore and exclude the deepest of human
feelings and needs. Which when you think about what we actually all are, and what we actually all
need as people, is a bit strange and a bit daft.
Work and organisations in recent times have simply not aligned with some of humankind's most basic
needs - to be loved, and to find our own purpose and meaningful connections in life, which often brings
us full circle to loving and helping others.
For a hundred years or more, millions upon millions of people who need love and spiritual meaning
like they need food and drink, are denied these basic life requirements at a place that occupies the
majority of their useful existence (their work), because love and spirituality (and all that these words
represent) seemingly don't feature on the corporate agenda.

Yes. However. As we know, things are changing.
People are most certainly now seeking more meaning from their work and from their lives.
People in far flung exploited parts of the world now have a voice, a stage, and an audience, largely
enabled by technology and the worldwide web.
Customers, informed by the increasing transparency and availability of information, are demanding that
organisations behave more responsibly and sensitively.
Increasing numbers of people are fed up with the traditionally selfish character of corporations and
organisations and the way they conduct the themselves.
The growing transparency of corporate behaviour in the modern world is creating a new real
accountability - for the organisations which hitherto have protected the self-interests of the few to the
detriment of everyone and everything else.
Now, very many people - staff, customers, everyone - demand and expect change.
Leaders need now to care properly for people and the future of the planet, not just to make a profit and
to extract personal gain.
And so businesses and corporations are beginning to realise that genuinely caring for people
everywhere is actually quite a sensible thing to do.
It is now more than ever necessary for corporations to make room for love and spirituality - to care for
people and the world - alongside the need to make a profit.
Love, compassion, and spirituality - consideration for people and the world we live in - whatever you
choose to call it - is now a truly relevant ethos in business and organisations.

the concept of love and spirituality in business is not a new one

Love, compassion, spirituality, and real ethical principles (to some a modern interpretation of the
preceding concepts), actually provided the platform for the formation and success of many very large
and famous corporations.
Dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries some very big businesses were originally founded on loving
and spiritual principles.
For example the early huge Cadbury and Rowntree British enterprises were founded by Quakers and
run on far more compassionate principles than we would consider normal in business today.
High finance and loving principles rarely appear in the same sentence now, but many regional banks,
long since swallowed by the multi-nationals, were once Quaker businesses, run on caring principles.
The Pease Company which effectively pioneered the railway industry was also a caring Quaker
(The source of these details is Sir Adrian Cadbury's talk on 'Beliefs and Business', 2003.)
This is not a soapbox or a recruiting post for the Quaker movement - not least because certain Quaker-
founded organisations very quickly sacrificed their caring principles in the quest for greed and power. It
just happens that some parts of Quaker business history provide good examples of managing
corporations successfully, while at the same time leading and managing and making decisions with
love, compassion and great care for the world.
We can also look to longstanding examples of co-operatives, employee ownership organisations,
mutuals and credit unions becoming increasingly successful in modern times. Many of these
organisations openly advocate and support more caring and sharing ideals that place people and ethics
ahead of profit, and significantly some are now beginning to demonstrate that a more caring philosophy
can translate into competitive advantage, and better commercial performance.
More will appear on this page in due course about how these ideas are being adapted for the modern
age. In particular, the extension of the principles beyond any religious association - especially into
areas of co-operatives and employee ownership organisations - because as already stated, being loving
and spiritual is not dependent on being religious or believing in a god of any sort.
Love, compassion, spirituality and ethics in business are not dependent on membership of a group or
sect. Anyone can be loving, compassionate, spiritual and ethical; in fact most people are - it's just that
big corporations have tended to require people not to be.
Then as now - in fact even more so now - you don't need to go to church or to be a member of a
particular religion in order to love other people, to act ethically and honestly, and to consider the needs
of other people while you pursue (quite reasonably) what you need yourself. This includes loving
yourself and striving to be a loving compassionate forgiving person, even if the organisation around
you hasn't yet seen the light. Be assured, it soon will do.
As we know, management ideas tend to be cyclical, and this is a case in point: Love and Spirituality are
back in business.

love in business is becoming a popular concept again

There are increasing numbers of writers, gurus and now even a few business leaders who advocate
greater love, compassion and spirituality in corporations.
There are also various interpretations of these ideas about love and ethics, about compassion and
spirituality. This is fine. It's normal for any significant concept to have several interpretations, and these
reflect the different ways of applying the concept in different situations.
Some interpretations have a compassionate or spiritual foundation; others are quite rightly incorporated
within wider issues of corporate social responsibility and ethical business. Other ideas approach the
concept from the environmental angle, or sustainability, or 'fair trade'.
The challenge for modern managers and leaders to develop an interpretation of love and spirituality
that will work for your own organisational situation.
Here are some ideas about love in business and management, from different perspectives. They are two
different interpretations. Hopefully they will help you see ways that love and compassion and
spirituality, which are tricky to measure and describe in tangible specific terms, can be applied in a
practical sense in work and organisations.
The first article is by Barbara Heyn, a Cincinnati-based consultant, who helps organisations develop
relationships and capabilities among people and teams, particularly in response to challenges of
globalisation and cultural diversity.
The second is a piece by Sonia Stojanovic, a McKinsey consultant, which features in Soleira Green's
book, 'The New Visionaries: Evolutionary Leadership for an Evolving World'.
Please accept the use of US English and UK English spellings for certain words on this page and in the
featured articles - they reflect the mixed authorship and audiences of these materials.

barbara heyn
Barbara Heyn sees love and spirituality in organisations from the perspective of feminine instincts and
behaviours. This is not to say that men are useless at it; not at all: men, like women, can actually do
anything they put their minds to. Everyone can.
The concept of 'feminine spirit' emphasises that the biggest challenges in modern work and
organisations respond to what we traditionally consider to be 'female' strengths and styles.
Globalisation is creating these new organisational challenges:
• managing and developing global teams - which requires far more sensitive treatment than
traditional localised structures
• approaching cultural diversity as a strength not a hindrance - which requires great
perception, awareness and openness to possibilities
• creating inclusive responsible plans, and making ethical decisions - which requires a strong
sense of what is right and good, including compassion, humanity, and spiritual connection
Most of this is traditional 'female' territory, but it must now part of the 'male' compass too, because
these are the big issues facing all managers, leaders and organisations today.
As such, this is a call for everyone in management and business to be more loving and spiritual - to be
more sensitive and understanding and compassionate - and a warning to all paid-up members of the
Genghis Khan School of Tyrannical Leadership (male or female) to adopt more 'feminine' ways of
doing things.

business and the feminine spirit - barbara heyn

Love in business. A novel concept. Most of us are probably used to a traditional culture at work where
'proper' reserved behavior is expected. People keep their distance and approach work and relationships
with a sense of formality.
What if that paradigm were to shift towards a more compassionate and spiritual model?
In the past, traditionally male behaviors such as tough-minded decision-making and competitive
aggression were the standard. At job interviews and when assessing performance and potential, leaders
would assess whether the employee had 'fire in his belly' or was a fist-pounding-on-the-table kind of
guy or gal. There was little tolerance of sensitivity, never mind tears. Now however a sea-change is
occurring that recognises the value in management and leadership of feminine traits such as warmth,
affection, nurturing and intuition.
Some would identify this move as introducing love into the workplace.
In fact, love flows naturally when you create a space for it. People are naturally inclined to good. It's
the business world that makes us resistant and sceptical.
If you are open and accepting, people can feel comfortable around you. People feel better when they
are allowed and encouraged to connect on a deeper level with others, especially with managers and
superiors. Fear and anxiety is no help in organizations. Connecting openly dispels anxiety and makes
for harmonious relationships.
An increased sense of humanity and trust positively impacts the bottom line, because people - and
entire organizations - work far better when folk are happy.
Here are some pointers for creating a humane and productive business environment, for anyone who
seeks to make a positive difference in their work:
1. Establish a collaborative mindset
Your peers can be an excellent support system. View your colleagues as potential allies rather than
threats - especially people in 'warring' departments. Ask for their opinions and listen to what they have
to say. Incorporate their input into your decision making. Work on inclusion and resist exclusion.
Business processes often encourage unhealthy competition, exclusion, alienation, lack of consultation
and non-collaborative behaviors, so look out for these negative situations, and use collaboration and
cooperation to remove tensions.
Look out especially for policies and systems that discourage (unintentionally or intentionally)
collective working and team-work, especially between departments.
In the belief that it raises overall performance standards, certain leaders encourage unhealthy
competition and 'free-market' methods which are designed to see only the best performers survive,
leaving less experienced or less capable people to struggle. Of course this can raise performance at the
top level, but it's not a recipe for building strengths in depth, nor for organic growth and self-
sufficiency throughout the organization.
In such environments traditionally female strengths such as relationship building, empathy and
listening skills are suppressed if you allow them to be, so instead consciously use these capabilities.
The ability to work in partnership and collaborate with others is a behavior that should be encouraged,
rewarded and leveraged.
Foster collaboration ahead of competition.
2. Reach out to others
Find ways to connect personally with others on an honest human level. Ask sensitive questions and
identify common areas of interest. Proactively look for opportunities to help team members in a
meaningful way.
Do something outrageously kind for a co-worker with no expectation of anything in return. Maybe
unexpectedly treat the colleague ahead of you in the cafeteria line to lunch. Just for the heck of it.
Throw surprise parties for people, or baby showers (US-speak I know..) for soon-to-be moms and dads.
When engaging with anyone - managing, co-working, collaborating, networking, directing, following,
whatever - focus on what you can do to benefit the other person, not vice versa. Your positive, genuine
efforts will have a lasting impact.
Some people use the word 'Karma' in referring to this sort of concept, and while Karma has other
deeper and complex meanings in Buddhist and Hindhu ideaology, one of the central principles is quite
irresistible when you get the habit: namely that people who do good things generally find that they
experience good things as a result. The universe - or whatever life force is out there - does seem to keep
checks and balances..
3. Use your intuition
There's much truth to the concept of 'female intuition'. Intuition is invaluable especially in dealings
with people. This skill isn't limited to the female gender. Men have it too if they simply tune into it,
rather than denying its existence or relevance as can be the tendency.
Take note of your physical and emotional feelings associated with intuition. Your hunches are often
correct and are based on information that may not be readily apparent to your consciousness. We all
know deep down whether something is right and good.
You develop your intuitive abilities by first of all accepting that you have them, and then by practising
paying attention to your feelings. Trusting your intuition is a wonderful way to enhance your decision-
making skills. Listen to your instincts and afterwards, debrief with a trusted colleague or mentor. What
decisions did you make? What were the repercussions of these? Do you notice any patterns? Does your
intuition play a larger role in certain areas, (people, processes, teams, aims, tactics, problem-solving,
etc) so that you might transfer the intuitive approach to other aspects of your decision-making?
Note the outcomes of your intuitive decision-making and capture them in writing. You don't need to
write a book - just jottings or little diary notes suffice for many people. This way you'll remember
things and be able to refer back to them, which means you are more likely to spot the connections
between your intuitive feelings and actual results, which helps develop intuitive ability. It's in all of us,
or the human race would not have survived. Did you ever see a caveman with a spreadsheet or a
psychometric test? Of course not - they used their instincts and intuition to succeed and survive. Or a
big stick of course, but we don't want to go back to that..
4. Meditate daily
First we need to debunk a few myths about meditation. For example meditation is not just for hippies
and Buddhists, and you don't need to adopt that funny cross-legged pose and fill the place with
patchouli smoke to do it.
Meditation, like love and spirituality, is an option that's available to us all. Anyone can do it. It's
essentially a deeper state of thought and relaxation than we normally achieve, because simply we
normally don't bother. If you put your mind to it, literally, you can do it and get better at it, and maybe
one day even try the cross-legged thing too. And there are plenty of other fragrances if patchouli
doesn't do it for you.
Incidentally the reason why darkened rooms, fragranced candles or incense and soft music or other
soothing sounds are used in meditation, is similar to why we bathe toddlers and read them a story
before bed - it all helps condition and trigger the mental response towards the intended feeling and
behavior. Logically if you want to relax, it helps if the body is encouraged to do so through as many
senses and sensations as possible - your brain is part of your body remember - if your body is being
distracted and kept ready for action because of lots of simulation, then relaxation and meditation is a bit
trickier to achieve. Instead, do things to relax your body, and your brain will relax too. And don't get
the children all excited before bedtime or they won't go to sleep..
Meditation, aside from being good for health, healing, de-stressing, and general relaxation, is an
extremely powerful way to heighten your connection to your intuition, and is also remarkably good for
bringing forth your 'feminine' aspects (for men and women alike).
When you meditate you help your mind and body to be 'centred' again - to restore your natural balance.
In this way helps awaken and enhance 'feminine' strengths that we all possess to one degree or another,
that are commonly suppressed by the pressures of work and life.
Meditating is bit like running a 'full system restore' on a personal computer - it's cleansing and helps get
us back closer to our 'factory settings'.
Start by meditating once a day for ten minutes. A quiet darkened room helps, but really you can do it
anywhere - even in the car, although best not while driving. It's even possible after a little practice to
sneak a quick two minutes of meditative re-charge or relaxation at your desk in front of the PC any
time you feel the need. Obviously the environment has an effect on the ease and depth of experience
you can achieve, hence why a darkened room is a good idea for beginners or serious sessions.
If you fancy it, lighting a scented candle or playing some soothing sounds can help. The crackle of an
open fire is good for some people. The sound of water and waves also help. Whatever, it's a matter of
what makes you feel comfortable.
Focus on your breathing and if thoughts come to mind, don't fight them, just accept them, and then let
them go.
View your mind as a chalkboard (or wipeboard if you prefer a modern slant) and mentally erase all
thoughts from the space. As a beginner, if you are able to hold your mind clear of thoughts for one to
two minutes, you are doing great.
Our 'monkey minds' are constantly jumping around and it takes a bit of discipline and practice to slow
or eliminate our thoughts. With practice and repeating the sensory ideas that work for you, you will
soon be meditating like a Buddha.
Build up to meditating twice a day for ten minutes, and any other time you feel the need to re-charge or
relax. You'll find yourself grounded and attuned more closely to your feelings. And the incense will
make you smell great.
5. Build your confidence
Appreciate what you have to offer and encourage open dialogue with those who may share different
strengths. Professionals who are truly comfortable in their own skin are often the most competent and
humble. By valuing your inner worth, it will be much easier to rid yourself of jealousy and competitive
Rise above petty conversations at work. Refrain from initiating or contributing to gossip. Judge no-one.
If you need to assess situations and performance focus objectively on behavior and causes rather than
subjective personal criticism.
Feel comfortable wearing clothes that express your personality. Go ahead and don a soft blouse,
flouncy skirt and sandals that set off freshly painted toenails. Women can do this too...
It's a question of celebrating your personal style - even if the dress code for your situation is a bit
restrictive - find ways to be yourself.
Relaxing and lightening up is more helpful for confidence than taking yourself seriously. Remember
the laid-back teachers at school who were always calm, and who never seemed to lose their temper at
anything? The ones who always had that air of confidence? Being relaxed and calm about things -
'counting to ten' instead of blowing up - is a way to build confidence, as much as it is a sign of
confidence. You can be the same.
In addition, a little self-deprecating fun can lighten any situation. Someone who can break the ice - or
the tension of a difficult moment - is regarded as a mature and calming influence. People who cannot
take a joke might be stern, but they are almost always regarded as lacking in self-assurance too. If you
have the strength to enjoy a laugh at your own expense you automatically exude confidence.
6. Put yourself out there
Take a risk. When it comes to connecting with others, challenge yourself outside your comfort zone.
Although this may go against the grain in traditional corporations, initiate emotional engagement with
other people, and maybe even a bit of physical contact - within acceptable boundaries of course. It's
safest with someone of the same gender, unless you know the other person well.
Physical contact is an immensely powerful thing. Many people really enjoy a good hug - in fact
sometimes it's the only cure when people are upset or angry. Physical contact does however carry
certain risks in the workplace because of the risks misinterpreting signals, so if in doubt don't use it.
Nevertheless there are times when you can trust your instincts and reach out to people in this way, even
if it's a gentle touch on the arm, or a pat on the back.
Being friendly though is perfectly safe. Go out of your way to greet a colleague you haven't seen in a
while. Be the first to say hello. Never ignore someone because you think they ignored you first - they
probably never even noticed you because they were still thinking about the big game last night, or
whether they left the oven on.
The world is full of people who wait for the other person to initiate contact. No wonder people don't
generally communicate well - they are all too busy thinking they've been ignored, when in fact nothing
can be further from the truth. Everyone longs for the other person to initiate content and give them a
big friendly smile.
And that's the way it starts - then you do begin to do it more often, and then other people try it too
because they see it's safe and nobody dies, and before long everyone on the floor is happy to make the
first move, then it spreads to the whole building. Because everyone realises it's okay to be open and
Individuals at all levels of an organization welcome being treated as a full person, not just a workmate
or a phone extension, or an email address.
So put yourself out there: approach people as people - in a genuinely friendly way - be affectionate and
caring - through hugs and pats when it's okay, or simply through a big warm smile.
7. Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do
Demonstrate integrity and stand up to unethical comments or decisions. Move past your own
discomfort when it comes to doing the right thing, even (and especially) when no one is watching.
Challenge that inappropriate joke or derogatory remark. If it's wrong don't laugh because everyone else
does and it's difficult not to. It's not always necessary to challenge things vocally - sometimes staying
silent is challenge enough.
Stand up for people who are not represented in the conversation. You'll be recognised as a leader for
enhancing the conscience of the group or organization.
Sometimes it's very difficult indeed to do the right thing, especially if the whole organization and all
the people around you are advocating and accepting something that's wrong. But often all it takes is
one brave soul to ask a sensible question, "Do we all really believe that this is the right thing to do? - I
mean is this really ethical and good?" Or to say, "I'm really sorry but actually I can't go along with that
because to me it's not right."
And then lots more people will feel strong enough to say they don't agree either, and then you have a
real basis for building something good and ethical. Sometimes all it takes is one brave soul, and that
can be anyone. It can be you.
Use your deepest instincts to decide what is right, to feeling centred and confident, and to connect with
and value other people. These are the behaviors which enable organizations to respond successfully to
the challenges of the modern world.
It's not about table-thumping or shouting, and it's not about costs and profit. It's about fundamental
spiritual things like love, caring for and respecting people (including yourself); the quieter gentler
'feminine' strengths and skills that all of us possess - men and women - and which we all must now to
be able to use.
Organizational culture-shifts happen not because someone at the top makes a pronouncement - a
culture-shift happens when the attitudes and behaviors of their people change.
At the root of any successful change you will increasingly find the qualities of love and trust, which
together create the freedom for us to make the right decisions, to connect with others, to challenge and
to innovate.
A trusting organization that values and encourages the softer 'feminine' traits among all of its people is
one that leverages diversity and harmony. And that, in anyone's book, makes good business sense.
© Barbara Heyn, August 2006.

Barbara Heyn is founder of Atticus Consulting LLC, a global-organisation development consultancy,

based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
She specialises in coaching executives and professionals to develop global teams, leadership and to
leverage cultural diversity. She has over 15 years of corporate experience in this field having consulted
with many multi-national corporations in the US, Mexico, Europe, and the Middle East.
Barbara holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan, a Masters in Labor and Industrial
Relations from Michigan State University and a certificate in Organization Development from NTL,
Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences. She graduated from the leadership programs of Future
Milwaukee and the Phillips Leadership Institute and has served on the Boards of Jewish Vocational
Services and the Greater Cincinnati Applied Psychological Types chapter.
Barbara's contribution of this article and cooperation in the edit are gratefully acknowledged.
sonia stojanovic
Here is a powerful article by Sonia Stojanovic which echoes and extends many of the ideas about love
and spirituality on this page.
This article was first published on 26 April 2006 and features in Soleira Green's book 'The New
Visionaries - Evolutionary Leadership for an Evolving World'. It is reproduced here with permission,
which is gratefully acknowledged.
Sonia Stojanovic (at time of writing this article) is a consultant with McKinsey, and was previously
head of Breakout and Cultural Transformation with ANZ Bank in Australia. She specialises in
organisational transformation.
In this article Sonia explains her vision and views about the cultural shift facing business and the world
at large. The article also describes the achievements of ANZ Bank in bringing positive change to its
people, customers and banking.
Soleira and Santari Green run 'New Visionaries', a focal point for visionary leadership, evolutionary
coaching and self-fulfilment. Visit the website to obtain Soliera Green's book 'The New Visionaries -
Evolutionary Leadership for an Evolving World'.
As with Barbara Heyn's article, Sonia Stojanovic's experiences and methodology illustrate that Love
and spirituality have a real and crucial place in the modern corporate world. The concepts of love and
spirituality are if anything more valid in today's challenging corporate environment than the traditional
business leadership pursuit of economic ruthlessness.

my vision: love, meaning and the whole person in business -

sonia stojanovic
My vision is to bring love into business. To recognise that everything is love, that business doesn't need
to be the kind of 'dog eat dog', hard-edged, market driven process, which we see developed in its
biggest extremes today. That it can return to shareholders while also contributing to the community and
giving meaning to people's lives.
My work is about getting people and organisations to have the courage and energy to look at and accept
that the whole person has a place in the workplace, as opposed to the historical perspective that
subscribes to the adage that the person who turns up for work is part of a machine as a human resource.
It's about having the recognition that the whole person has a whole life and that we don't have to turn
off parts of our lives and ourselves as we walk in the door. Once we can get people to get that, then
they're up for doing the transformational work. This shift in root perspective is key to the work that I
They can then support their teams and businesses to go through processes that assist people to make the
necessary choices that recognise that firstly they are fractured, and that there is choice to reintegrate
the mind, body and spirit - that all three do matter to all of us. The key is to have people get that while
we are taking them on a personal journey of transformation, we are also able to measure and track that
it's good for business. It does have to have a positive impact on business performance and not just be a
touchy, feely, nice thing to do. We can prove this impact now on a wide range of measures. It makes
intuitive sense that if people are their whole selves and are authentic with each other that the positive
relationships that result will produce in an up lift in productivity. We can offer that as the strange
attractor to others to follow suit.
The strange attractor
You know that restaurant scene in 'When Harry Met Sally', where the woman says I want some of what
she's having. When someone sees that someone else is having something good that they don't have, it's
becomes the strange attractor. This is one of the ways to influence global culture shifts. We demonstrate
that it can and does work and then others begin to want some of that. Once in the door, we work with
people and organisations in a transformational way and the productivity, creativity and engagement
becomes a fait accompli.
In my travels round the world, working for organisational transformation, I'm now seeing a big shift
towards more people-focused business. I believe this is due in great part to three things:
1. There's got to be a better way
The baby boom generation are the ones now leading these big companies and the baby boomers were
either involved in, or on the fringes of, the 60's when the idea of love, peace and all that stuff came in
to the vernacular. They've gone through their 'making hay while the sun shines' days and they're in their
mid 50's and 60's now reflecting back, as I do, on what that was all about, thinking 'there's got to be a
better way.' Also as we begin to see our own mortality with our parents passing, the questions arise in
our minds - 'What is my legacy? What am I leaving for future generations and how will I be
2. Young people on the leading edge of change
The younger generations are saying very clearly, "We don't want to be like you. In fact we resent the
way you are, the 'me only' generation and we want something different. Yes we'll come and work for
you and of course your money is important, but that just gets us in the door. So unless there's the
challenge and the contribution that I want to work for, then I'm not going to stay." This is a
generalisation, but it does seem that young people are the ones on the leading edge of change. They
rattle things from inside, demanding that things be different. I feel this agitation of the field of business
is a healthy one.
3. Hundreds of thousands of us
There are hundreds of thousands of us out there, if not millions, working on these big visions. I run
across them every day in my travels around the world. They may be people who are doing similar work
to my own, in business, the community, schools, government, or they're people who are packing
groceries in the supermarket that you strike up a conversation with or a taxi-driver who tells you his life
story on the way between home and work. There's a lot of thinking and reflecting going on out there. If
you allow yourself the time to check into it, you find it everywhere!
What I've been finding is that if I shift the way I behave with people - connect more openly and
honestly - then people are more likely to have these far deeper more meaningful conversations that are
transforming the world. It's those conversations that you can have at any moment of the day that truly
are a blessing. What I find so interesting is that I'm often more 'out there' when I have those kinds of
conversations one on one with people than I am in a corporate setting. I can try things out that I would
be more circumspect with in a corporate setting. It's very fascinating to find how people respond when
you talk heart to heart with them. And yet organisations are made up of people just like this - people
with hearts.
A global network
Being a visionary gives me the opportunity to really play at the edge and I love that. That's part of my
contribution, as is connecting people. I'm always looking for opportunities to put people together with
each other. I have this vision of having a neural network of people covering the whole globe. The
reason that I'm happy and love going to different parts of the world is because it gives me the
opportunity to taste that part of the world and where it's at, to see what's ready to be birthed and to meet
those who are on the journey, to discover who's available for the work. At the moment, I'm working in
Canada, the Middle East, Africa, Brazil and in the US. I'm going with the energy of working globally
wherever there's an opening to engage in this new way and to co-create this neural network of like-
minded people who share the vision.

Organisational Transformation (the ANZ Bank story)

My time and experience at ANZ has led the way for me to be a spokesperson and catalyst for
organisational transformation. I was offered the opportunity to operationalise the transformation of
ANZ as a business as the Head of Transformation reporting directly to the CEO, working very closely
with him around creating a breakout in the cultural transformation of what was a pretty broken culture.
'Breakout' is action focused towards breaking away from the past, being a different organisation and
bringing hearts AND minds to work. What I learned at ANZ, apart from the power of working with
energy, is that we can create transformation as a way of being, a way of life, a continual process that is
consciously chosen within an organisation to become more of what it's meant to be and for people to
become more of their own potential. That's what happened and continues to happen under my successor
Siobhan McHale, at ANZ. We were able to integrate it as a way of being into the organisation.
There were a number of contributing factors that helped us to achieve that, as opposed to one thing that
created the paradigm shift:
• We created a whole system buy in. With organisational transformation, it's got to be more than
the traditional meaning of having the CEO and the leadership team on side as platitudes. It's
absolutely critical that the whole team is on board for this kind of change. Consequences for
non-alignment are key as the role modelling is a key aspect from the leadership - formal and
informal. Some of our competitors tried to go down the same path without this kind of
commitment and alignment and it didn't work for them.
• We had to learn to let go of the past and live in the present. We needed to put in place
structures and safe processes for people to forgive and sometimes to confront, to let go of their
withholds and to move on into the present. So many people in organisations are actually living
in the past whilst trying to live in the present through strategic intent, but they're not really in
the present, not in the now.
• We used story telling with metaphors and real life stories about real people from all levels
of the organisation, who they were, why they believed they were making a difference and why
their contribution was important.
• We learned to break old rituals in order to allow new ones to be birthed. So things like
celebrations and little things like thank yous, things that normally weren't common within the
organisation became important. We saw that it was important to 'take the time to smell the roses'
so to speak.
• We celebrated people who discovered that they wanted to do something else besides
banking. Instead of chastising them, we made that cause for celebration, a part of finding
themselves. We made that on a spiritual level a part of the contribution, which would then
enable others to be attracted to us as the next part of their journey. In practical terms that shifted
us from being the least preferred employer in financial services in Australia to being the most
preferred over a period of about two and a half years.
• We began to attract people who were very much of the heart profile, people who wanted to
be involved in something where they could make a difference. Heartfulness and business
focused is a very powerful combination that is inspiring to self and others.
• We introduced a compelling aspiration that gave meaning and purpose to the
organisation. The aspiration was not something that was dictated from above, but emerged
from the energy of the field of Banking in Australia. We talked about the 'Bank with the Human
Face' and that worked very well for our people given that in Australia bank bashing is
considered a national sport and very deeply ingrained into the psyche of the Australian people.
So moving our people from saying they were ashamed of working for a bank, which we
discovered in our initial rounds of diagnostics, to having people say they were proud of what we
were doing was a big accomplishment.
• We created the employees as part of the legacy, recognising that they were part of that
journey, being able to tell their kids and grandkids one day, 'I was there when ANZ decided to
change the world of business and banking for the better.' They understood that the bank's vision
and their part in it could contribute to their sense of having accomplished something in their
lives. Allowing people the space to ask the question as to why they came to work and what was
meaningful for them was a key consideration.
• We worked on people's personal transformation from the inside out, allowing them to
transform their relationship to who they were, which meant business and the bank was
transformed along with them. We spoke of the ripple effect and how it all starts with each of us
being accountable for creating the future.
• But we also worked from the outside in by transforming the organisational environment
through policies, systems and procedures. That was the non-sexy part I suppose. We changed
the performance management systems, introduced a diversity agenda, a free internal job market,
a bureaucracy alert to do away with bureaucracy and transparency around remuneration. We
launched new recruitment processes, introduced a balanced scorecard, strategic reviews and all
sorts of things that looked at creativity, growth and how to create innovation. Then of course
there were things like the community agenda with Volunteering leave (one day's paid leave per
year to do community work that a lot of people did in teams), the first ever national literacy
survey, financial literacy training run for the community out of the bank branches and match
saving schemes for underprivileged people to go towards their children's education.
It was amazing to be a part of all of this and I guess being in the middle of it all, it seemed there was
always more to do, more challenge to continually raise the bar. But one morning in 2003 I woke up and
knew that I'd done what I'd come to do. I knew that it was time for me to move on. I didn't actually
leave until July 2004, but during that time I worked with my team and the CEO to put the transition in
place for my replacement, Siobhan, to take over. As part of the transition, there was a strategic review
around 'Breakout' to determine the future focus for the work.
Prior to my leaving, we had started doing work on establishing an internal coaching programme for
excellence with the dream that everyone at ANZ would be a coach for everyone else - 360 degree and
in the moment. This came to me as a waking dream - one of the ANZ values was to 'Lead and Inspire
each other' and I had awoken that morning realising that through becoming a coaching organisation,
this value would be realised. Once that was started, I knew I could leave and within a short period of
time I found myself invited to New York to do the organisational consulting work that I now do

Following the dream

For me, being a new visionary is about following the dream and following your heart, believing and
knowing that the universe supports you and your visions. New visionaries are people who can go into
the void and access what is waiting to be manifested into reality, translating that so that people can
actually hear it and work with it. My sense of the power of the new visionaries that I'm seeing these
days is that they are not sitting on the top of their hills with their mantras being righteous. They're very
practical and out there getting their hands dirty. They're actively doing the work. New visionaries are
up for it and as they say in Australia 'they put their balls on the line.' They're courageous and willing to
go where no man has gone before, a la Captain Kirk, and then see how it grows. They're not fearful
about making it up as they go along - to see what fits. I think that's the most exciting thing about the
new visionaries that I'm seeing these days. They're up for it and are very substantive physical entities as
well as emotional, mental and spiritual entities. It's about the integration of the whole. They are
standing in all of those worlds powerfully and that's what the planet needs.
This wonderful blue marvel
People with a spiritual calling often have a great desire to escape to the other dimensions, whereas I
have a very different attitude around that. My sense is that when my time comes to leave this
dimensional wheel of incarnation, it will happen at the right time as everything does. But there's much
beauty in this world. This is an amazing place where you can eat wonderful food, drink great wine,
laugh at jokes, cry at sad movies, look at the beautiful tree outside your window and even marvel at all
the very special creatures on this planet. I believe this is a very special time to be alive, to be a loving
and nurturing supporter of Mother Earth in all of her glory and my sense is that the new visionaries are
in that space. They're very much about the practical... how can we ensure survival of this wonderful
blue marvel in its earthly reality and its consciousness.
This is the most exciting time of my life. I've been very blessed and my life experience has given me an
understanding of the reason I'm here. I'm a new visionary and I get to bring my visions alive in the
world at a very special time. But I'm also really grateful for the opportunity to link around the world
with others of like mind and vision, of which there are many. People today are willing to go more
deeply and are up for seeing the potentiality and for working in consciousness. We are in a time of
exponential growth, a time when more and more people are finding themselves in transformational
movement, discovering new levels of themselves and their potential to contribute to this amazing
© Sonia Stojanovic 2006, from the book 'The New Visionaries - Evolutionary Leadership for an
Evolving World' by Soliera Green.

Sonia Stojanovic is (at time of writing this article) a consultant with McKinsey and Company. She was
previously head of Breakout and Cultural Transformation for Australia's ANZ Bank.
This article was first published on 26 April 2006 and features in Soleira Green's book 'The New
Visionaries - Evolutionary Leadership for an Evolving World'. It is reproduced here with permission,
which is gratefully acknowledged.
Soliera and Santari Green run 'New Visionaries', a focal point for visionary leadership, evolutionary
coaching and self-fulfilment. Visit the website for Soliera Green's book 'The New Visionaries -
Evolutionary Leadership for an Evolving World'.

love and spirituality - common themes, inputs vs outputs

The articles here by Barbara Heyn and Sonia Stojanovic demonstrate and echo some important points
about Love and Spirituality in organisations:
• Love and Spirituality are already relevant and applicable concepts in business and work. This is
already happening.
• It is possible, quite easy, and actually very natural to develop and interpret some very specific
principles and actions for any organisation based on loving and spiritualistic ideals. You can
create a very workable practical methodology to bring Love and Spirituality into your work,
your team, your department or a whole organisation, right now if you want to.
• There are good people out there to help you bring a more loving and spiritual ethos into your
organisation if you want some support to do it, and the great thing is that these people are loving
and caring too - they practise what they preach - and they might even give you hug now and
then when you need one, as we all do from time to time.
• Love and Spirituality are very much connected with motivation and change. People in modern
organisations sometimes struggle to think how to 'motivate' their people - as if motivation is
some sort of force you apply to somebody. In fact everything that truly motivates people -
whether to perform better, to be more dependable and committed, to take initiative, to be
courageous, to do the right thing, to adapt to change, etc., (I could go on but you get the point) -
can be included within Love and Spirituality. Love makes people believe in themselves and feel
valued, and liberates them to have this same effect on others. This builds confidence and trust.
Spirituality enables people to connect with each other and with the things that truly matter in the
world and their lives. This gives people meaning and purpose and relevance, which is at the
heart of true motivation.
• In terms of corporate initiatives, Love and Spirituality are about as natural as you can get. These
needs and tendencies are basic human nature, and they are in all of us. So when you decide to
bring a bit more Love and Spirituality into your work, you will be pushing on an open door.

leo buscaglia and love

Any page about love and spirituality warrants a reference to the work of Professor Leo Buscaglia
Leo Felice Buscaglia began his ground-breaking 'Love Class' at the University of Southern California
in 1969, on which he later based his remarkable and best selling book, 'Love', published in 1972.
The Love Class was free, extra-curricular and no grades were awarded. Buscaglia was prompted to
offer this very unusual class after the suicide of a young female student, which sparked the realisation
in Buscaglia that life and work and learning were meaningless without love and relationships. The
Love course became extremely popular, spawning the book and also many television appearances,
which led to Buscaglia earning the reputation 'the granddaddy of motivational speakers'.
Not surprisingly, Leo Buscaglia has since been closely associated with the topic of love and human
relationships, in which he emphasised the value of positive human touch, and especially hugging.
Buscaglia wrote several other best-selling books related to love, relationships, fulfilment, and became a
hugely popular speaker, at which he was famous for his practice of hugging audience members who
would stand in line, sometimes thousands of people, waiting for their special moment with the great
For more information about Leo Buscaglia, his work and writings, and particularly the Felice
Foundation which he founded in 1984 to promote and enhance the spirit of giving, see the Buscaglia
When someone next asks you what you want for your birthday, say Leo Buscaglia's 'Love'. It's a
remarkable and wonderful book.

sharon drew morgen

Sharon Drew Morgen has been talking about love and spirituality in business for many years.
Her remarkable methodology enables extremely positive and helpful communications and
relationships, and is summarised on this website in the context of Buying Facilitation - Yes, selling
really can (and should) be a caring and loving process, where the aim is to help the other person, and
not to manipulate or influence for greed or profit.
Sharon Drew's methodology is most popularly applied in the sales and selling field, but the principles
are just as applicable and effective in all areas of human relationships, including teaching, coaching,
managing, counselling, social work, mediation, conflict-resolution, parenting, and even marital
Sharon Drew Morgen's facilitative model can also be applied very effectively to decision-making,
innovation and change.
For organisations particularly seeking to bring true social responsibility and compassion into their
culture, management, and relations with customers and suppliers, Sharon Drew Morgen's philosophy
and methods are at the leading edge.

positive psychology and detachment (anasakti or non-

Here is an interesting and very relevant article kindly provided (November 2006) by Charu Talwar who
was at that time researching positive psychology at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
I (AC) have lightly edited the article to clarify certain points, and to highlight relevance to love and
spirituality at work where appropriate.
Charu Talwar was seeking to correlate scientifically the qualities of spirituality, love, compassion,
optimism, tolerance, etc., (representing positive psychology), with the Eastern concept of Anasakti
(non-attachment or detachment).
This is an intensely interesting area of thinking. Particularly if it leads to practical methods for
awakening and/or developing these qualities in people.
Charu Talwar defines positive psychology thus:
Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and
communities to thrive. According to Seligman (2002), positive psychology has three central concerns:
positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.
• positive emotion entails the contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for
the future.
• positive individual traits consists of strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and
work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge,
moderation, self-control, and wisdom.
• positive institutions are those which through purpose and meaning and values foster better
communities, enabling and represented by justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance,
work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.
Each of these three domains is related to a different meaning of the scientifically unwieldy term
'happiness', and each has its own road to happiness (Seligman, 2002).
Positive emotions lead to a pleasant life, which is similar to the hedonic theories of happiness. Using
one's strengths in a challenging task leads to the experience of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and the
engaged life.
Deploying one's strengths in the service of something larger than oneself can lead to the meaningful life
(e.g., belonging to and serving institutions such as education, free press, religion, democracy, and
family, to name a few).
Arguably the values and character strengths represented by positive psychology (courage, integrity,
love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, optimism, etc), and also the indicators of positive psychology
(happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being etc), originate from or relate strongly to the Eastern
concept of 'Anasakti' or non-attachment.

anasakti (non-attachment)
Topics like the art of living, happiness and well-being have been discussed elaborately in Ancient
Indian Literature (notably Bhagavad Gita).
Asakti (attachment) and Anasakti (non-attachment) are significant concepts related to well-being and
Here I elaborate these concepts.
Asakti and Anasakti are indigenous psychological constructs of the East.
The English equivalents of Asakti and Anasakti are attachment and non-attachment/detachment,
although the Eastern meaning of attachment and non-attachment is far deeper than the conventional
English literal interpretation of these words.
Bushan (2005) defines Asakti as attraction towards individual or object with expectation. This often
results in frustration and mental problems.
Anasakti is simply negation of attachment.
Charles T Tart (1997) holds that attachment is about various processes that give more value, attention
and psychological energy to feelings or concepts than to this perception of the actual reality of
In terms of personal consequences, Buddhism sees attachment as the principle cause of suffering in life.
When one is attached, one becomes slave to rewards in much the same way as the rat in the (Skinner's)
experiment becomes a slave to the pellet box, performing only those actions that bring him token
Non-attachment or Anasakti, on the other hand, is the systematic practice of not automatically giving
psychological energy to thoughts, feelings, perceptions and desires that come along. When an
individual is unattached to external contacts, he/she finds happiness within his/herself (Bhagavad Gita,
In other words non-attachment is the key to 'authentic happiness'.
Non-attachment involves always being able to keep our minds above any turmoil and trials of the
environment. Non-attachment produces equanimity. It has long been referred to by the Vedentists as the
attitude of 'being in the world but not being of it'.
Non-attachment is acceptance of situations without reacting negatively to them. It is a state of mind
that is continuously observing the nature of events and remains unaffected.
The Bhagavad Gita teaches that the one who abandons all attachment to the results of his/her activities,
satisfied and independent, engaged in all kinds of undertakings, yet not concerned with rewards
involved, is truly happy.
Those of us who are accustomed to traditional Western management and organisational thinking might
initially reject this idea, because it appears to suggest that outcomes are not important. However the
true meaning is actually very close to modern Western ethical and humanitarian ideals, i.e., being good
and happy results from doing good things, not from achieving rewards, personally nor for the
corporation. When we focus on reward we are 'attached' and are inherently wrong-minded. When we
focus on simply doing good we are right-minded, unattached and thus are fulfilled.
The term detachment or non-attachment has always been seen in a negative light in the West.
Unlike the common Western notion however, detachment is not about surrender of objects of the world
but about the surrender of desires that create limitations and conditioning of mind.
Nor is detachment a zombie-like state where an individual has no passions, no desires or where he/she
is cold and indifferent. Instead detachment is a state where egocentric desires and fascination for
animate and inanimate objects of the world ends and the person understands the meaning of true love
(or expressed more conventionally, the meaning of purpose, compassion, humanity, etc).
Swami Rama (1965) asserts that love and non-attachment are synonymous.
Resting on the rich eastern literature, and more specifically Indian Yogic Literature which indicates an
obvious link between non-attachment and all positive traits like courage, forgiveness, compassion,
tolerance, gratitude and even happiness, I (CT) am keenly interested in exploring the correlations
between these qualities and Anasakti or non-attachment.
My research work therefore focuses on whether traits like forgiveness, optimism, courage, trust, hope
and other character strengths correlate with Anasakti and to what extent.
The basic aim is to scientifically validate our Eastern Yogic literature, which will at the same time
strengthen general understanding of 'loving' and spiritual qualities as viewed from the Western
This research may get us a step closer in attaining what has been very appropriately termed as
'authentic happiness'.
Besides, it will help us in integrating Eastern psychology, which is inherently humanistic and positive,
with the current 'positive psychology' movement (love and spirituality at work in other words).
If the correlation between Anasakti or non-attachment and traits like forgiveness, optimism, etc., can be
scientifically established, the next step would be to design interventions aimed at training people in
practising non-attachment.
Charu Talwar (November 2006)
Supervised by Dr Sudha Banth Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
i am
relaxation and scripts for self-help, personal change and fulfilment
I deserve to be,
I want to be,
I can be,
I will be,
I am.

If you want to change your life you need to change how you think and change what you do. Self-help,
personal change, being happy: it's up to you. No-one else.
You decide. This is the first step. Self-help starts with you. Self-help and personal change starts with
your realisation that it really is in your own hands, and your decision to do something about it.
Your own self-belief is the key to successful life-change, achievement, contentment, and happiness.
Your own mind, particularly positive suggestion and visualisation, will develop your self-belief, and
your determination to make successful change to your life.
This page will help you begin to change the way you think, feel and act.
Visit it any time you want to boost your self-belief, to relax, and to regain control of your life and
Print this page and put it above your mirror, above your bed, above your desk, anywhere you'll see it
every day.
Make time - actually schedule some time in your planner or diary to do this. It will dramatically
improve your mood, attitude, and approach to life, and therefore what you get from life.
Positive suggestion and visualisation, combined with deep relaxation, is an easy way to make powerful
positive personal change.
Just going through this relaxation exercise alone will help to change and improve the way you feel. If
you combine the relaxation techniques with a repeated script of positive statements, such as the 'I am'
script below, you will begin change the way you think, and feel, and act, and all that life offers as a
The more you use the relaxation exercise and say or hear the script, then the greater and more
sustainable will be the effect.
The time it takes to change depends on different people. Stick with it and it will become easier, more
natural, more enjoyable, and it will work.

relaxation exercise
1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Properly comfortably. Straighten your back, put your shoulders
back to open your rib-cage.
2. Relax your shoulder muscles particularly. Relax your whole body, and empty your mind.
3. Close your eyes (obviously open them when you need to read the next stage).
4. Take ten deep, slow breaths. Breathe from the pit of your stomach and feel your lungs filling.
5. Focus on your breathing. Feel it getting deeper and slower. Feel yourself relaxing and any
tension drifting away.
6. Relax your shoulders and neck again.
7. Visualise yourself being happy, succeeding, winning, being loved, laughing, feeling good.
8. Relax your forehead, your mouth and your eyes.
9. Allow a gentle smile to appear on your face as you feel a calmness enter your mind.
10.Then say (out load ideally) the words below (a script for personal change) to yourself:

i am
I am good person.
I have integrity.
I do what is ethically right and good.
Whatever life puts before me will be useful experience that will make me stronger, wiser, and more
I am strong enough to understand and make allowances for other people's weaknesses, and their
behaviour towards me. Other people's behaviour is about them, not me.
I focus on the joy of living my life and helping others where and when I can.
I am what I eat and drink, so I eat and drink good things.
I am what I watch and play and listen, so I watch and play and listen to good positive things.
I take exercise which I enjoy. I walk when I don't need to drive or take the bus or train.
I smile and laugh whenever I can - life is good - getting caught in the rain reminds me that it is good to
be alive to feel it.
I forgive other people. Deep down everyone is a good person, just like me.
I am a compassionate and loving, caring person.
I am a good person.
I am.

about relaxation, scripts and self-help

The use of scripts while in a deeply relaxed state is a ages-old method of gaining and maintaining
control over our personal feelings and behaviours.
Relaxation combined with positive 'self-talk' enables self-help.
The use of scripts or strong statements while in a deeply relaxed state enables a 'conditioning' effect on
our subconscious.
Changing our subconscious - our feelings and beliefs - increases our sense of calm and well-being, and
also enables change in our conscious thoughts and behaviours. It's that simple.
Some people find it easier than others to relax deeply. It comes with practice.
If you find it difficult, allow yourself more time when going through the relaxation exercise. Create or
put yourself into a quiet relaxing calm environment. Shut out noise and distractions. Lie down rather
than sit.
When relaxing and emptying your mind it is natural for thoughts to arise - in which case simply
acknowledge them gently and let them go - visualise them floating away like a balloon into the
distance. Your ability to empty your mind and relax, free from thoughts, will improve with practice.
When you practice, you will increase the ease with which you can relax, and then you will find that you
no longer need such a quiet environment. You will even find that you can achieve a deeply relaxed state
in quite noisy stressful environments. Even sat at your desk at work.
Other methodologies and approaches refer to deep relaxation as 'meditation'. Commonly such methods
are 'packaged' and surrounded by mystery or science. Don't be fooled. Anyone can do this. It's human
nature, and instinctively accessible - free - to everyone.
Deep relaxation alone is good for the mind and body, without the use of scripted statements.
Combining deep relaxation with good positive scripts is a powerful method of achieving greater
happiness and for making positive personal change.
The use of repeating scripts (said or listened to) is ages-old as well. The principle is used in many
timeless customs - some which are forces for good, others not so good - which are used to change or
control feelings, including praying, chanting, singing, etc. Often these practices are combined with
deep relaxation, meditation, trance, even hypnosis, again some for good aims and some not so good.
What I'm advocating here is the use of the same basic methodology - deep relaxation, combined with
repeating strong statements - to achieve powerful personal change for the good, in the direction that
you want.
If you are a coach or trainer you can help others with this type of personal change - see the personal
change exercises ideas which use these relaxation, scripts and positive statements techniques.

using and changing scripts - what the 'i am' words mean
The 'I am' element alone is a powerful one because it embodies the sense of self-determination, which
nobody and nothing can ever take away from you, and it emphasises the value of simply 'being'.
We each exist as a person of value and worth in our own right, irrespective of possessions and
achievements. Accepting and reinforcing this concept is good for each of us. This, at its simplest level,
is what 'I am' means.
"There is wisdom in accepting what you are. It is difficult to be what you are not. Being what you are
doesn't require any effort. When you become wise, you accept yourself the way you are, and the
complete acceptance of yourself becomes the complete acceptance of everyone else." (From 'The
Mastery of Love' by Don Miguel Ruiz, with thanks to Allspirit.co.uk)
You can use the relaxation exercise, combined with a script, to change many aspects of your life and
You do this by adding, removing, or replacing statements in the script.
Keep the statements positive and in the present tense.
For example, if you want to be more confident, use a statement such as 'I am a confident person' rather
than 'I will be a more confident person' or 'I will try to be a more confident person'.
If you want to stop smoking, use a statement such as 'I am a non-smoker, because I value my life and
body' rather than 'I will try to give up smoking'.
If you do not want to give up smoking, merely to cut down, adjust the script accordingly, for example:
'I smoke only five/ten/fifteen cigarettes a day, because this is improving my health and my life' (better
than smoking twenty or thirty day).
If you keep telling your sub-conscious that you 'are', then in time you will 'be'.
Use script statements that describe yourself as you want to be. Repeating positive scripts, combined
with deep relaxation, will change your behaviour from deep within.

making tapes or script recordings

You can increase the ease of using scripts if you make a tape or CD recording of yourself reading your
You can then use the recording any time you want.
Using a recording also means you can relax completely while listening to the words, with no need to
open your eyes to read.
You can also listen to your recorded script at bed-time, before you go to sleep every night, which is also
an effective way to reach and change your sub-conscious feelings.

be assured...
Most people judge themselves against entirely artificial criteria. Material success is not what life is
You can change your frame of reference. You do not have to accept a frame of reference that others
have given you.
Many of the most materially 'successful' people are deeply unhappy, yet they strive and search
(unsuccessfully) even harder for more material success.
Most ordinary good, honest 'being' people are fooled into believing that what they have is not worth
anything. Don't be fooled.
The answer to happiness and fulfilment is usually found in achieving a simple acceptance of, and joy of
living, a good life.
Enjoy 'being' and living a good life.
Next time you get caught in the rain, or bump the car, or get a headache - enjoy being alive to feel it
and experience it.

(With acknowledgements to Carole Byrd and Buddha Maitreya.)

see also
• Kipling's poem 'If'
• The Guy In The Glass
• Ruiz's The Four Agreements
• Carter-Scott's 'rules of life'
• Love and Spiritulity at Work
• Erikson's Psychosocial Development Theory
• Goal Planning - tips and template toolthe free posters for some lovely self-development and
self-belief maxims
• Abstract images for feelings, challenge and changeFantasticat - a visualisation method for
young people (grown-ups too)
• Buddha Maitreya's Japanese Garden and Meditation Centre
• Better Sleep Ideas
• Stress Reduction