Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stress-Busting 101

Can you call your work “work” if it is totally devoid of stress? The fact that you are exerting effort and have to direct it to meet a specific objective given your resources and limitations automatically means you are stressing yourself out—though not needlessly. Even in small doses, a typical work day would always give you your fair(most of the time not) share of stress.

Being a call center agent, the moment we seat ourselves at our station and make our first call for the day, we encounter stress. From beginning to end, expect that the entire shift would be loaded with stress that I find it amusing how we manage to stay seated and focused despite being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I guess it all boils down to how we hold and process it in that determines our chances of staying composed while at work. Beyond this, however, we can do very well with employing effective and simple stress-busting techniques to help us better manage ourselves, hence keeping ourselves sane, competent, and functional. Consider these three suggestions:

  • Tune in to your favorite music as you tune out to the world.

    Listening to soothing music, or any kind that appeals to your fancy, automatically drags your stress needle down. When you tune in, you automatically tune out to the rest of the world, thus creating a safe and quiet barrier for your thoughts, devoid of the drudgery and sham posed by reality.

  • Breathe deeply.

    Taking deep breaths—inhaling and exhaling, works to de-stress you in a jiffy. A quick and ready remedy when you feel you are about to burst, this method works to incorporate oxygen in your system while it gradually calms your spirit.

  • Go on a laugh trip.

    Laughter is indeed the best medicine, especially in dispelling the bad effects of stress. When you guffaw, your mind releases “feel good” hormones that work to relax your already tense system. Whether in company or in solitude, laughing always has its merits. If others chance upon you laughing by yourself and think you've gone nuts, shrug it off and just laugh at them. It's a whole lot better to be thought crazy as you are working to keep yourself from losing your mind, than to have totally lost your marbles and be thought of as sane(Now does that make sense, or what LOL?).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Zoning in on Stress

I find it noteworthy to mention the many different health problems typically beleaguering call center agents. Having worked the phones for almost a year now, I too succumbed to these woes at certain times, which eventually led to my filing sick leaves when my circumstance got out of hand. And since getting sick often poses problems that could affect one's standing at work, it is only appropriate that effective measures be taken to address specific sickness issues. Of these, stress ranks as the most common.

As you may all know by now, idling at work for call center agents is never possible since we are constantly monitored by our team leaders/ supervisors. Being conscious of this automatically puts the pressure on us; by getting pressured, we become stressed. Though stress can work to our advantage, as it motivates us to put our best foot forward, too much of it can lead to adverse health consequences—the most debilitating and potentially immediate of which is burn-out. In the long run, excessive exposure to stress can lead to more palpable physical health problems like heart disease, erectile dysfunction, nervous breakdown, and fatigue, among others.

Doing away with stress totally is flat-out impossible. At best, we can manage it, so we don't get too exposed. But how? Until my next post people. I'm already nearing stress-overload and by this my mind could no longer function as well as it should. Besides, it's already late in the morning(LOL). Time to call it a day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Weather Got Me

I am not feeling very well today. Early this evening as I was about to get up, I felt feverish and nauseous. Though the thought of absenting myself for tonight's shift crossed my mind, I opted not to, thinking that I would feel better after a hot shower and a steaming cup of coffee. Well, my spirit did get lifted a little. On the whole, I felt a bit better and even managed to get through the rituals of readying myself for work.. Upon getting to the office, however, the nausea and bad feeling resurfaced. I found myself struggling to fulfill my tasks. I felt so out of it that attempting to concentrate was futile. I want to write something more substantial for today's post, but sad to say, this feeling of “being under the weather” has gone from bad to worse and now...Until my next post, guys. My hips are screaming for rest, and my senses are all on red alert. I am left with no choice but to call it a day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Practical Tips on Harmonizing Work and Home Life

Thought control is key to keeping oneself sane. When your marbles are perfectly intact in your head, you are rest assured of staying in control of the ins and outs of your life. By this, it only follows that overall you are able to harmonize the two most important aspects making up your life: home and work.

Many years back, I never gave the slightest thought to the importance of balancing work and home. To me, they were one and the same. However, as the stress piled on with the passing of the years, I found myself struggling to keep myself together. Hardly able to cope with the demands of my career and responsibilities at home, I was on the verge of tearing my hair out LOL. Luckily for me, and just in time, I came to a point whereby it dawned to me that the only way to get a hold of myself and keep my life normal was to do something about my dilemma.

Something? Something as in definite measures to keep the control—and the best and only way to get started on the right foot is by reorganizing my messed up brain. How?

  • Work matters should never be discussed once you are outside the office threshold. Likewise, home issues should not be entertained once you get to work.

  • When troublesome thoughts cross your mind and it should not be there(You're doing calls when the image of your recent spat with your sister early this morning crosses your mind.), put the breaks on by taking a deep breath and diverting your mind.

  • Before you shift your focus(as you are on your way to work or home), program your mind early on.

  • Acquire de-stressing techniques that work for you and jive with your personal preferences.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why It Pays to Listen

Being a good call center agent is not all about being a good English speaker. The main focus of our profession is managing an effective two-way communication between our customers and ourselves. The process of information relay determines the success of each correspondence or transaction. Although we have been given a script and the proper training, the actual process involved hinges on our ability to “listen and speak” as we get our information across. These abilities are interchangeable. Given that there are exceptional speakers and listeners who are born with the exact skills needed to become excellent communicators, those of us who may not have been granted such gifts by birth right always have the chance of developing them provided the right training and education.

During our training, most of us may have focused more on harnessing our speaking skills. However, good speaking is rendered useless if we do not know how to listen well. Hearing and listening should not be equated, for they are different. Most people capable of hearing may not know how it is like to listen, and those who may be devoid of hearing ability may uncannily have an unusual knack for listening—which is understanding with their minds and hearts that is. For call center agents, listening involves not just hearing your customer out but understanding his needs. Doing so enables you to respond properly and communicate in a way that best serves his and your interest.

Nonetheless, sometimes in a desperate need to end the day, as we are already frazzled by stress, it is a common mistake to just speak like a phone recorder, droning on without even noticing that we are talking at the same time as the person on the other end of the line. Once this happens, no exchange of information takes place, hence the process is botched. By this, we are hampered from meeting our goals. And when our goals are not met, we lose a potential customer, thus we fail to serve our purpose.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Not-So-Hilarious Comedy

There would always be those days when nothing seems to go right. From one annoyance to another, each catastrophe(mundane but unquestionably unnerving still) brings with it another reason to validate the thought that first popped in my head the second I opened my eyes when I awoke: “I don't think I should go to work today.”

But as tempting as it is to stay in bed until the next morning and continue what should have been a beautiful dream that got interrupted just as it was starting, the demands of reality(bills, responsibilities, the need to keep the stability in my world, bills, family needs, bills, personal needs, and again more bills) forced me to get up and drag my heavy arse to the bathroom to ready myself for work.

When it rains, it pours.

The first booboo was an idiotic occurrence brought on by forcing myself to get out of bed when I barely slept: I drifted to sleep the moment my rump touched the throne. Though idiotically hilarious, the repercussions of this event resulted to a series of more unfortunate events that although rib-tickling to observers, were destructive on my part. When I realized what had happened, it turned out that I had fallen asleep for a good half hour while attending to the call of nature. Alarmed and fully awake, finally, I was left with only 10 minutes to prep myself—bath, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, fixing myself and my things—before my brother starts yelling that I get my butt in the car ASAP, as he himself is running late on a business appointment.

And just as I had expected, this nightly drama that plays itself out almost every work night, did take place. By the time I had just slipped into my clothes, my brother was already running frantically to the garage while yelling that I rush and be downstairs in half a minute. Without thinking, I grabbed my bag, headed downstairs, kissed Mom hastily before stepping out, and ran straight to the garage. As I was running, the thought that I missed or forgot something nagged at me. However, with the car wheeling out of the gate, I could not be bothered to even spare a second to think it through. Only when I was comfortably strapped to the front seat next to him, and we were already driving along Edsa that I found out what it was: I had forgotten to put on my shoes.

When it rains, it does pour—and the day had just begun...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Importance of Voice and Expression

Conversations done over the phone allows us to interact with another person, albeit indirectly. As a call center agent, the primary lessons inculcated in me during my training bordered on the significance of the best and most proper way of conducting myself during a phone conversation. Besides the need to polish my English speaking skills, two important factors cannot, or should I say, never be dismissed: voice quality and proper expression.

On Voice Quality

Face to face conversations would involve voice tone, gestures, and facial expressions as part of the communication package. Over the phone, the absence of physical presence automatically means the voice would take center stage. Believe it or not, confidence level is easily detectable over the phone. Even if the person you are talking to may not be outright conscious of your underlying feelings, thoughts, or state of mind as you speak, believe me, he or she can tell beneath the words. Because neither one of you can see each other, voice quality is of utmost importance. If you already have a good speaking voice to begin with, that is a major plus factor. If otherwise, you can always work on improving it. All it takes is a little effort and patience. Listen to someone possessed with a good speaking voice talk (usually a DJ or colleague or anyone you know), and notice how he or she uses his or her voice to express his meaning along with the way he or she enunciates each word. Take note and start practising with this as a guide.

Proper Expression

By expression, I am not actually referring to the kinds of words you use, but the manner whereby you express yourself over the phone. And by no means are you supposed to sacrifice these qualities of expression at all cost: clarity and conciseness.

  • Clarity, I say?”

    Yes, I say so. A no-brainer actually. If you tend to eat up your words or the line is choppy, then it is only rightful that you do not come across clearly, meaning whoever you are talking to hardly understands a word that you say. Should this happen, then your effort and time come to naught. In layman's term; wasted, useless, balderdash, etc.

  • Why be concise?”

    Short, sweet, and meaningful is the way to go when doing business calls. Beating around the bush needlessly by ranting too much about things that are out of context from the message you are supposed to deliver, could lead to two unwanted possibilities: Either the one on the other end falls asleep due to extreme boredom, or he/she slams the phone on you as he/she finally loses his/her temper. Be nice. Be pleasant. Be direct. Be concise. A little dilly-dallying like talking about the weather would not hurt provided you do not overdo it. A little pleasantry segueing to the exact point of your call is part of the whole script. But overdoing it...As the old adage goes, “Too much spice, spoils the broth.”

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