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Tip Sheet

How to Avoid Making Anxiety Contagious and More Tips for December and January

Including how to come up with an Oops Kit.




doctor close eyes try to be calm

MANAGEMENTBe the Calm Doctor

Imagine a car-accident victim stumbles into your store or practice with a severe torn cornea. Would he respond best if you freak out and yell, “Oh, my God. That’s horrific!” Or if you look at it and calmly say, “Let’s take care of that?” It’s the same in any stressful situation, even an overwhelming work period such as the holiday season, argues the designer Mike Monteiro, in an online essay. “Anxiety is conductive,” he writes. “It wants to travel from one person to another.” At his design studio, they have a rule: “Stop Adopting Other People’s Anxiety.” Be the calm doctor.

MARKETINGKnow Your Constituents

From the political beat: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer is accompanied at all times by his most trusted advisers, Joe and Eileen Bailey. The Baileys live in Massapequa, NY, and are in their mid-40s. He’s an insurance agent, she works part-time in a doctor’s office. They hate property taxes, fear terrorism and worry the country is losing its values. Oh, and they are completely imaginary. Schumer created them to advise him on middle-class concerns. Though you’re not running for office (and neither is he until 2022), imaginary advisers could also help you make better decisions for your constituents … sorry, we mean customers and patients.

MANAGEMENTPersuasive Brew

Your brilliant new marketing strategy for the holidays is a winner but your staff just can’t see the big picture. What to do? Drug them … with caffeine. A moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) might make them see your side, according to research published in The European Journal Of Social Psychology. The study found in addition to boosting alertness, caffeine ups the ability to be influenced.


Most retailers hate dealing with complaints. Rick Skidmore, president of wooden-shutter maker Timberlane, told he embraces them. When employees learn that a customer is dissatisfied, the company gets in touch immediately and promises quick resolution of the problem. Skidmore also sends them an “Oops Kit” containing a flashlight and a note that thanks the customer for “shedding light on the mistake.” Referrals now account for 25 percent of sales.

SALESKeep Score

Smed International, a Canadian maker of office furniture, wants all staff to understand how big sales happen. So each month it deconstructs a big sale in a feature called “Scorecard” in the company newsletter. Details include how the customer first learned about Smed and what roles employees played in clinching the sale. “We point out peculiar things that helped secure the sale,” a Smed official told

MANAGEMENTCreate More Titles

Are your store’s titles limited to Owner (that’s you!), Technician, Office Manager, and then a bunch of sales associates or employees? It shouldn’t be, says Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All The Rules. Having additional titles creates an inspirational framework for higher achievement. It can be as simple as following the law-firm model — having junior, senior, and executive sales associates. Or, as in real estate, you could have a “Presidents Club.”




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