Travel planning tends to be a very independent enterprise. You work one-on-one with your clients, often in complete isolation from co-workers. Independence is a great thing, but carries risks. We too often lack a sounding board to bounce ideas off and to confirm our instincts. So let’s explore a series of statements you should frequently hear yourself say to ensure you are receiving the appropriate input from your business associates, your clients and your family. Each of these groups are stakeholders in the success of your travel practice. Giving them a voice can be a great gift to both them and to yourself.
“What do you think?”
Here’s a phrase you should use often around the work place – especially if you are “the boss.” Seeking the input of others maintains perspective and allows your decisions to be shaped from a variety of resources. Creativity springs not from a single source but from a transformative alchemy mixing dissent, collaborations and flexibility. Don’t be afraid to seek out people you know will challenge you. You won’t like or agree with everything you hear. However, your success as a business person depends on your ability to fairly assimilate the criticisms and challenges of others.
When we ask for the opinion of others, we often hear ideas from outside own own expertise. If we allow others to demonstrate their ideas and range, two amazing things happen. First, we provide an opportunity for the other to shine, to contribute in a really meaningful way. Secondly, we learn best as adults when we actually see a demonstration rather than merely hearing an explanation.
Our relationships demand constant feeding.
How often do we say “Thank You” to our clients? If we recognize the significance of those words, shouldn’t we be a bit more liberal with their use ourselves? Clients are the very reason our
profession exists. Travel consulting is an almost purely service business. Yet, we sometimes feel as though we have done a client a favor when we work on their behalf, rather than the other way around!
It adds to our character to take time to say “Thanks for letting me assist you. Thank you for your business. Thank you for stopping in.” Demonstrate your appreciation in visible, memorial ways. Write letters or send postcards welcoming clients home and thanking them for doing business with you. Remember their birthdays. Send them flowers on their anniversary. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be sincere and profoundly grateful. Don’t stop there, however. You are surrounded by people to whom “Thank You” is due. Not one of us is truly self-made. We owe others debts with no ceiling, with no repayment expected. We are who we are as the result of a thousand graceful acts performed by others stretching back into our childhood and even beyond. Parents, family, teachers, co-workers, mentors and total strangers have conspired to place you where you are.
Want to enhance your creativity? Say “What if…?” more often and encourage those around you to do the same. When you encourage your work associates to explore possibility, you introduce new opportunities and ways of thinking into your environment. If creative and spontaneous thought is an essential ingredient in your travel practice, you are more likely to WOW your clients with the type of thinking so rare it has little competition. Regular brain-storming sessions allow people to fully express themselves by bringing new perspectives to problem solving and innovation. Our established ways of thinking certainly put us where we are, but chances are you began your travel career with a creative vision outside of your normal thought processes. The netherworld of creative thought and possibility should be often visited.
To the extent your work associates participate in decision making, the easier the entire process of buy-in and adoption becomes. By the way, the same principles work at home as well!
“Let me help!”
We can’t get by without a little help from a lot of people. We all inherently understand our interdependence and need for assistance from others. Whether in the context of your work environment, your business networking, your volunteer efforts or even with strangers, your offer of assistance is an immediate signal you understand the role of consideration and collaboration in relationships. To volunteer without being called upon demonstrates your willingness to assist in the greater good. Offer your assistance in a straightforward manner with no strings attached. Then follow up with action!
“Tell me about yourself!”
Have you ever had a great conversation with someone only to later realize you did all of the talking? Real masters at conversation know a very simple way to keep things moving – ask about the other person. People love to talk about themselves: just ask anyone about their favorite travels. Ask open questions and follow on with more questions about the detail. We all gravitate to people who show an interest in us. Likewise, we tend to move away from people who only want to talk about themselves. When you demonstrate a genuine interest in other people, you allow them the great opportunity to express themselves in a manner of their own choosing, to provide you with the persona they most want you to see. People too seldom have such an opening. Give it to them and watch them run with it.
One of the keys to knowing a phrase should be repeated as often as possible is the fact we like hearing it ourselves. Be liberal with your praise of others. Doing so authentically indicates you are paying attention to the effort others contribute to your well-being. Praise is a way of saying “Thank You” with a special note of appreciation for the collaborative to a common enterprise whether it be at work or at home. This week, look for the opportunity to say “Great Job” and watch the recipient of your attention soak it in.
“Can you help me?”
Have a problem with a supplier? You can certainly launch right into a complaint or the circumstances surrounding the situation before you. But consider setting the tone with four simple words: “Can you help me?” Most humans are naturally empathetic. We know what it is to need help and we are typically willing to reach out to assist others. When you preface your remarks with a request for assistance, you generate the appropriate emotional resonance in your correspondent to provide an easier road to a desirable end.
One of the criticisms you may be tempted to level is the specter of manipulation. Am I suggesting we render praise or utter these magic phrases solely to generate an emotional response in the other person? Two part answer coming up. 1) It is important everything you say is authentic. Render praise when it is due. Ask for assistance because that is what you need and because the other has the power to deliver it. 2) It is magic. Everything we say, intentionally or not, creates emotional ripples all around us. The very nature of relationship is based on our ability to communicate and empathize. In a time characterized by rough language and course criticism, there is nothing wrong with communicating with intent and doing it well.
“Let’s give it a try”
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We so often hesitate out of fear. More likely, however, we would do better to fear hesitation. Action is a key component of success. Have you ever put off a sales call or an idea only to see a competitor pick it up later? How many great ideas founder for lack of a little bit of daring? Inspire yourself and those around you with a willingness to take on new projects and to take a chance every now and then.
You probably knew this was coming. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. If your motive is negative, say nothing at all. If you have been proven right, consider saying nothing at all. Sometimes out of respect, say nothing at all. The negative space we thus create says volumes.
Carefully crafting our words, speaking intentionally and with empathy helps to ensure we are understood and fulfills our responsibility to communicate fully with those around us.