Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Dream

Good morning! The sun is shining here in Belfast this morning and it blinds me as it shines double from the patch of saltwater I can see from my looks like molten gold this morning. Lord, help me to appreciate the beauty you have so graciously placed around me for my enjoyment! Oh, how I need to relax and allow life to be what it is and what it is to be. Why is this the most difficult lesson for me? I swear I am like a bull at the gate....I see the matador with his red cape and I want to shred that cape, but they will not open the gate. How do you ever charge with the gate shut? what would I do if the gate opened? I sound like such a brave and bold soul, but I am not. I laugh at myself at that thought. I am just me. I am shy and reserved and blush at the drop of a hat. I guess like everyone else, this is me at first and then you get to know me and I am comfortable and I open up and I am outright and honest and, yes, even fun....
Well, that is not at all what this blog is about today. I am just thinking aloud. But really, a dear friend requested I listen carefully to their words and I am and it is making me a better person by forcing me through this exercise of patience....thank you, Friend.
On to the dream. I had the nicest dream last night. I was with a bunch of people at some kind of retreat. This group came in and one of the guys took a bunk next to mine and he was bold and had red hair. He was sharing pictures of life and stories and poems in books, just a nice guy. I was intrigued by him and how easily he shared. We were all standing outside talking and he was suddenly next to me. For some reason, I touched him and he was immediately at my side, arms sliding around me and hugging me. It was so natural and felt really nice to have warm arms around me. The thing was he didn't let go, but just stood behind me, arms around me just chatting as though it were the most normal thing in the world. Not a word was said, just a tender gesture. The scene changed and he brought to me a phone with lots of pictures in it and a scrapbook with his life in it, set them on the table I was sitting at and walked away. I began to read and look and learn about this special know what is strange? I could never quite read his name on the book or ask him what it was...there is meaning in that. He wrote poetry about his life and had snippets of notes and pictures that told me who he was. He caught my eye from across the room with a question in it, was I enjoying his information?, I nodded and winked, yes, I was. It was such a strange thing, this dream. He would come by and touch me or talk or hug me and I knew he was mine and I was his, and yet, we knew so little, but it was the most natural thing in the world, he and I. It was nice. I needed that.
Perhaps I never saw the name because this was a message that I don't need to know who he is or when he will arrive, and I don't have to work hard for it, that when it comes, it will be the most natural and easy thing in the will just be....him and me. You know what? I can so live with that.
Then I found this poem about being alone this morning and it makes sense and it is okay to be alone. I don't always love it, but there is much to be done with it and in it. So, I embrace it and move into the molten gold of morning in Belfast.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Call

Today I received a most extraordinary call at work. It was a man, mid-sixties and full of grace and wisdom. He left me with a blessing that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have tears in my eyes even now thinking of his words. He shared with me that he had lost his wife a few years ago after two years of illness. He took care of her those two years, took nursing courses and learned how to. He asked nurses and had them teach him too just how to do everything that was necessary. He said that he fell in love with her on the fourth date, I believe it was....and he remained in love with her until the second she died. He never even held hands with another woman all of those years, he told me.
Then he told me he was out with a friend one night and two women approached them and started talking to them (flirting probably) and he said that he asked them if he could tell them about his friend he was with. They agreed and he said that he told them that his friend here had fallen in love with a woman and married her and that it came about that they were told she had cancer. He said that he took care of her every day. He came home at lunch and breaks to check on her and when she became paralyzed, he would even clean her and the bed when she was unable to control her bodily functions any more. He said, he loved her and cared for her until the moment she died. Then he said to these two girls..."Would your boyfriends clean you up if you pooped in the bed? Would they clean up vomit off of you if you were ill?" He said, "Because if you have to say no to that, then they are not the great men you thought they were and you had better get looking for a better man than that."
He said to me, I don't know about your husband or how he treats you...but go home every night and hold him warmly. He said, "Husbands should kiss the ground their wives walk on, it is just part of being a husband. It is what they should do."
He said that when he got married, he said for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health...and that was what he meant.
By the end of this call I had tears in my eyes....and I prayed to God to grant me a man in my life like this one had been. One that believes that a wife is precious and worth loving no matter what. And I ask Him every day to make me a woman worthy of such a man. And a woman that will never allow that man to forget how precious he is. When that day comes, I will come home every night and hug my man warmly and think of this precious man with words of incredible wisdom.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stress and Call Center Representatives

I work in a call center. The work can be very stressful there, so my wish is to seek ways to help to lessen the stress of myself and the other employees I work with. I want to share with you some thoughts I have had on lowering that stress level.

I have worked at a call center before and while I was there I began to become highly frustrated with the job and with the stress level I was working with. There were callers who were rude and difficult to work with when I had to stay calm and kind.

One day, I had to call a customer service line for a product I had. I called in already irritated about the situation, but tried to be polite to the representative that answered my call. They were not overly helpful and I began to get more irritated and the call began to escalate. Things were eventually taken care of, but I felt badly that I had put the representative through a rough call. It was at that moment that the light came on and I realized that I was the one that would make the difference with my difficult callers and that I wanted to give them customer service that went beyond what I had received. It turned my work around. I began to be so many times more patient with the customers and was able to control my voice level and my frustration. This is key to giving good customer service and to lessen stress. Sometimes it takes a personal experience to open our eyes to how our conduct becomes reflected in the attitudes and conduct of others. My hope is that it will not take this for all representatives, but that we can help them to lower their stress levels before they become as frustrated as I had become. Many do not make it that long; they simply leave their jobs to find something less stressful. This, then costs money for the company because they have to hire more representatives and train them. As a benefit to the representative, the company, and the customer, we must find a way to help them deal with the stress of their jobs.

Call center work is considered among the ten most stressful jobs one can hold (Coscia, 1996; D’Ausilo, 1997; cited in de Ruyter, Wetzels, & Feinberg, 2001). Some of the reasons for stress in a call center are: role confusion, customer aggression, and employee empowerment. Role confusion is really quite self explanatory. Representatives are confused about which role is the most important role mostly. Is it the role to please and help the customer, or the role to please and help the company? It truly is a difficult position to be in, but one that can be balanced with some practice by keeping in mind that there will be some things that will please the company by pleasing the customer. It really is a balancing act, keeping both parties in mind.

Customer aggression is a really tough area to deal with. It is hard to truly want to help someone and solve their dilemma and have them yelling in your ear or end up completely ungrateful when you do. However, this is, and will always be, part of the call center employee experience because we are there to help people who are having problems with whatever product or service we provide. Something to remember in this situation is that the customer has called with a problem, so they have already gotten to the point where they are willing to make a call to let you in on the problem. They are already confused, or frustrated, or perhaps even angry. So the representatives first thought should be to recognize how the customer is feeling. Oftentimes this diffuses the situation immediately. Their emotion has been recognized because you cared enough to listen and hear it. Other times, even though you have recognized and confronted them with this knowledge, they still continue to escalate. At this point, the representative needs to make sure they remain calm. Keeping one’s voice calm and in control is vital to keeping the situation under control. Once the representative’s voice begins to escalate, the situation might be lost. Another important element is to use very positive vocabulary. Words like might, should, unfortunately, sorry and others can leave the customer believing the representative does not know what they are talking about, or that it is a lost cause. Phrases like: I can do this for you!, I will, I apologize, I take responsibility, are phrases that will cause trust in the representative that they can and will remedy the situation.

The third area of stress is employee empowerment. If the representatives do not feel they have power over some things in the workplace, they lose their sense of self-efficacy (de Ruyter, et al, 2001). The leader’s role is imperative at this point. The manager, or supervisor, can make a huge difference by keeping the environment light and by encouraging the representatives any time it is possible (Holman, 2003). Employees should take advantage of areas in which they are empowered, not to “use” the company, but as they have need.

The first thing that any representatives can do after reading this very compressed amount of information is to follow the link I have placed after this to take a stress screening. This will at least help you in seeing where you currently are as far as stress is concerned. This stress screening is provided by Mental Health America.

Thank you for your taking part in this hope for a better work place by reading this blog and taking the screening. Have a better day!


De Ruyter, K., Wetzels, M., & Feinberg, R. (2001). Role stress in call centers: Its effects on employee performance and satisfaction. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 15(2), 23-35.

Holman, D. (2003). Phoning in sick?: an overview of employee stress in call centres. Leadership & organization Development Journal, 24(3), 123-131.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Week Five in the Saga of EDU651

Week five was an incredibly busy week in EDU651. It was a long and tedious process to link up with everyone's websites for their blogs, wikis, etc...however, I do enjoy being linked to my classmates in a more "social" atmosphere since we don't get to socialize like the average college student does. We also wrote a letter to request the use of certain internet websites for business or educational purposes. I found this to be a worthy exercise.
We are now off to complete the final week of the course by watching a youtube video of Piaget and the writing of our final reflection paper. Have a great week all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week Four of EDU651

Class is coming along well. I am always my toughest critic and always wonder what more I could have done to learn more, make a paper better, etc. I hope I always feel this way, because it drives me to always do my level best.
This week in class, we worked more on our sites, which is always exciting to see them form into something useful and beautiful. We also looked back on creating our sites and evaluated that experience. We got to write about whether any of the sites we are involved in now could take the place of Blackboard or Moodle. I came down on the "no" side of the matter. Perhaps several taken together, but these are great tools for classrooms and were created for just that purpose. I just think it makes sense to use them as such and the others for their intended use. Not that the others are not welcome and needed in the classroom, they can certainly be used as an innovation and a breath of fresh air next to the same old, same old.
I enjoyed writing this week's paper too. It was on Learning 2.0 and this is an exciting topic for the future of education!
Well, enough for now...I must have had a good week to have so much to say!
Have a good one all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Class Week Three

Well, the class is officially half over. This was a really exciting week for me as I learned so much about Facebook that I never knew! There really are lots of educational opportunities among the applications there. I thought it was fun to make up our own application. I thought that mine was kind of lame at first, because it simply enabled people to figure out their interest over the life of a loan so that they could also figure out how to pay it the best and quickest way. Also, there would be a forum for people to leave ideas about paying off things like credit cards and mortgages. Then, after I posted it, I got some great and positive comments regarding it, so it must be okay! (Either that, or most of the students in my class are geeks like me! lol) Well, that is the long and short of it and another reason to say, "Something's Always Up!"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Something's Always Up...At School!

The second week of my class is quickly coming to an end. This class is: Collaboration and Learning in a Virtual Environment. Long title, but I have come to realize it means using tools we have online to create collaborative learning activities. Perhaps that is not a lot clearer, but I know what it means, and that is the key!
This week in class, (virtual class, of course), we learned about wikis. Lots and lots about wikis! The word "wiki" is Hawaiian for quick. Wikis are all about collaboration, so they are perfect for this class. Although just one person may start a wiki, many people can be involved with posting addendums and making changes to what is currently posted.
There are lots of kinds of wikis too! You can use them as encyclopedias, as we have all seen with Wikipedia. However, they can also be used in hundreds of other ways. Some of those are: to write a story as a group; to critique things, like books and movies, as a group; to create a listing of references on one, or many, topics; to create historical time lines; etcetera. The possibilities are actually endless! Anything you want to put in a place where other people can critique (by adding and fixing it) and comment (in the same ways) on it, you can create a wiki.
A wiki can also have many pages for diverse reasons and this can come in very handy for assignments. Each page can lead the students through the preparation they need to take part in a wiki. A page can even be set up for practice, which is an awesome thing if you have never been part of a wiki.
Well, that is about all for now! Have a wiki-wiki day!