The GALA Principle

The GALA Principle

A principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of beliefs or behaviours or for a chain of reasoning. To live by a principle is to adopt a way of life that governs your every thought, word and deed, regardless of your circumstance or emotional state. It is one of the hardest things to do because it takes time and discipline; it takes constant practice and the resolution to commit. But principles are necessary and once you get over the initial discomfort of sticking to a routine, unlearning bad habits and learning the good ones, they become second nature.

Just ask any successful person you know, they’ll tell you it’s not an easy ride but, it is worth it. Some principles are embedded in the values and teachings from our immediate environment: the things we are so familiar with and yet sometimes take advantage of. In our daily life experiences however, there are significant lessons that if we are truly observant, would not elude us without us learning and growing from them. One of these significant lessons is deeply rooted in our ‘culture of celebrations’.

Have you ever attended a gala or received an invitation to attend an exclusive party with the who’s who of society? Do you remember that feeling of excitement and air of importance that made you sit up just a little bit straighter and stand just a little bit taller? Do you remember how self-confident you were and the extra care you took to make sure you didn’t put your foot in your mouth and embarrass yourself or your host or friends? Do you remember being in high spirits and looking forward to meeting new people? And do you remember ignoring the butterflies in your tummy when you were invited to hit the dancefloor? You were applying the GALA Principle, only you just didn’t know it.

GALA is an acronym for Grace, Attitudes, Language and Accountability. The GALA principle draws from this range of experiences described above to suggest that we should conduct our daily lives with GRACE, with a sophistication and polish that exudes quiet confidence; ATTITUDES that are positive and guide you to attain altitude; LANGUAGE that is courteous, and, the presence and maturity of mind to be personally ACCOUNTABLE for our actions.

If we are conscious of this principle, we will stand out from the crowd and always put our best foot forward, knowing that first impressions always leave lasting footprints.




It is said that we misunderstand 70% of all communication. The challenge isn’t just with how the message is delivered but how it is received. Communication will be impaired if do not know how to listen attentively. When a boss, client or friend has something to say to you, do you just make non-committal responses? Do you give them half an ear in the name of multitasking? To really listen, you must focus and internalize what you hear.  These simple tips will help you become a better listener, build better relationships, be a more effective worker and become more successful in your endeavours.

1. Give your full attention

You cannot effectively listen to someone if you’re not paying attention to them. So, the first step is to stop what you’re doing and actively switch your focus to the person speaking by looking at them and giving them your full attention. This shows you recognize their importance and are willing to fully engage in the conversation.

2. Stop talking

It is no coincidence that the word ‘Listen’ is an anagram of ‘Silent’, when the letters are rearranged. You can’t talk and listen at the same time. Remember, the goal here is to listen to what they have to say – you’ll have your turn to speak afterwards. Obviously, if you don’t stop talking then the other person won’t have a chance to speak, giving you nothing to listen to. But also, if you keep the limelight on yourself, then you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying, and at the end of the conversation you’d have missed out on important information.

3. Eliminate interferences

Just because you stopped talking, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re listening. Distractions are everywhere, from computer screens, phones and that poster behind your desk. If possible, try to move away from loud environments so you don’t get distracted by something someone else is saying. Do not look at your screens or paperwork in front of you and put your entire focus on the person you’re talking to.

4. Stop thinking and be present

We have spoken about your focus a few times now, but how do you do this? It isn’t quite as simple as avoiding external distractions, because our own mind and internal thoughts can distract us just as easily. Try to manage distracting or unwanted thoughts that pop into your mind by gently noticing them and putting them aside for later. Avoid making assumptions. If you get into a conversation expecting them to say something in particular, you’ll end up distracting yourself from what they’re actually saying.

5. Really pay attention

Make sure you give 100% of your attention to what they’re saying, and be honestly involved and inquisitive about what you’re hearing. Think to yourself “this is fascinating” and be prepared to lose yourself in their ideas. Think of the person speaking as the only person in the room (regardless of who else is there) and put your mental energy into listening, not on planning your reply. When it’s your turn to speak, if you’d been fully paying attention and internalising their words, your response will come naturally.

6. Listen without bias

If you’ve already made your mind up about what they’re saying, you won’t be able to listen effectively. Try to set aside your existing views and just listen to theirs. Be open to hearing new ideas and welcome the unexpected. Ultimately, you may not agree with everything (or anything!) they say, but you would’ve given them the courtesy of your time. Your opinions will form naturally but try to resist the urge to interrupt or immediately disagree without first considering their points.

7. Listen at a deeper level

Meaningful conversations are more than merely the combination of words spoken out loud. A person’s tone of voice can reveal a lot: if someone’s words are calm and agreeable, but their tone of voice sounds angry, upset or disappointed, think about what this means. Also pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as the way they stand and hand-gestures. Notice what their posture says about what they’re saying. Are they casually leaning on something or are they hunched over and closed off? Being an effective listener means being able to read between the lines and look for these subtle clues and subtexts.

8. Demonstrate you’re listening

When someone speaks, it’s usually on the assumption that someone will be listening. If you show that you’re actively listening, you’ll build a better rapport with the other person and they may end up opening up more and giving you additional useful information. Small actions like leaning forward to show interest, nodding along with their points and saying little things like “aha” and “okay” as they go along can show that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. Be careful not to overdo this, as it can have a counter-productive effect. When you respond, quickly summarising something they’ve said also shows you were focused and paying attention, and then using their words or phrasing when you make your points, shows that you’ve internalised what they said.

Finally, be slow to answer but quick to listen. It will confer on you the strange power of influence.

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

The “60-second Pitch” or the “Elevator pitch” is a 21st century business and marketing tool that is used to spark interest in the target audience within a short space of time, usually in 60 seconds or less, typical of an elevator ride. Having a potentially successful idea is one thing; being able to sell yourself and your idea in the most unlikely places and circumstances is another. Many people struggle with organizing their thoughts when they are put on the spot, may become nervous and confused in that situation and end up messing up that unexpected “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

This article will teach you the 6-step rule on creating an elevator speech that will make your pitch perfect.

Rule 1: Identify yourself. 

Many people are at a loss for words when they meet new people or have to network. You can see their minds racing with the questions, “What do I say? Where do I start? What if I make a fool of myself?” Here’s a tip. Identify yourself. That’s a great place to start. If it’s someone who you’ve been trying to get an appointment with for a while, try not to come across desperate.

Hello Mrs X. It’s nice to finally meet you, I’ve been dying to get to see you, I have called your office several times with no success. Actually, I have a proposal for a business idea, I would love you to invest, blah blah…

Rather than the person warming up to you, they can immediately close off because they feel ambushed. So, Keep it short and simple. Like this:

Hello, my name is Bimbo Oloyede. It’s so nice to meet you.

Rule 2: Offer Background information

Stating your name isn’t enough. Don’t expect your listener to fill in the blanks. So, if you say, “Hi, my name is Bimbo Oloyede,” and you stop there, you’re expecting your listener to do the work for you, right? Don’t be surprised if you may get a response like,

Ok! Or okay? Maybe even So what?

Offer background information about yourself. For example

Hello, my name is Bimbo Oloyede. I’m the lead consultant at Strictly Speaking, a media and communication training firm.  

Adding a little bit of information can pique your listener’s interest. You may get their attention with the tone of your voice, but you have to give them a reason to actually listen to you.

Rule 3: Provide Context

If your listener can identify your interest from your introduction and background, you may skip this part and move on to making a connection straight away. However, you may need to provide some context so that you don’t come across as a random rambler or a nuisance.

State who you are, what you do and give an inkling as to what you have to offer without actually offering it, yet.

I train professionals in presentation, communication and media skill and I operate offices in Lagos and Abuja.

Rule 4: Make the Connection

You cannot get your listener to commit to you if they cannot connect with you. Make a connection with what you do and have to offer with the core of what your listener does. It shows that you have clear direction as to what you want from the listener and it shows the listener that you are committed, current and confident of what you can deliver.

I’ve followed your company’s progress over the years, and I’m inspired by its recent developments in establishing a learning academy for graduates and new entrants.

Rule 5: Ask plainly

Many people find it difficult to articulate what it is they want from their listeners. You come across as unserious and having no clear purpose. Be conscious that the elevator is coming to a stop so don’t continue rambling. You don’t have the luxury of time. Be clear and concise when you make your request.

I would love the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my company can offer its services to your learning academy. Is there someone I can reach to make an appointment at the earliest convenience?

When you make such a request, be ready to exchange contact details. Always have your business card to hand. 

Rule 6: Close out

Always close out warmly, regardless of how you have been received. It leaves a lasting impression more than you realise. If the listener exchanges contact details with you, you may end with

Thank you for your time. I’ll follow up with an email or get in touch soon. It was nice to meet you again.

And even if it’s not positive, you still thank them for their time.

So, let’s put this 60-second pitch together:

Hello, my name is Bimbo Oloyede. I’m the lead consultant at Strictly Speaking, a media and communication training firm that operates in Lagos and Abuja. I train professionals in presentation, communication and media skills. I would love the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my company can offer its services to your learning academy. Is there someone I can reach to make an appointment at the earliest convenience? (Wait for response) Thank you for your time. I’ll follow up with an email or get in touch soon. It was nice to meet you once again.

Now it’s your turn.

Not All Customers Are Kings & Queens

Not All Customers Are Kings & Queens

“The Customer is King” is an old business ideology that posits the importance of customers (and potential customers) to every business. This ideology has helped many businesses become more customer-centered, provide better service and sustain patronage. However, it is often taken out of context and there are instances where it has created more harm than good – giving customers the right to condemn and even jeopardize employees’ livelihoods.

While it is true that without (external) customers a business ceases to exist, one should also consider that an employee is in fact, a customer -albeit an internal one. Employers therefore have a duty of care to provide them with a working environment that ensures that they consistently provide quality service to “deserving” customers.

“The Customer is King” ideology, has created a situation where every customer wants to be treated like royalty – even when they are wrong. Basic human nature is such that no matter what you do, some people are hard to please; some deliberately spoil for a fight; some are unreasonable and irrational, while others simply don’t recognize human dignity. Of course, this does not apply to humanity as a whole but many customers have become emboldened by this mantra to be abusive, condescending and intolerable, believing that throwing a tantrum will get them what they want. It’s like aiding and abetting a known fugitive, exposing yourself and others to risk and possible harm. It may sound harsh but if you think about it critically, serving the interests of a “bad” customer over your employees could also have a negative impact on the working environment. What’s worse, it could affect the relationship between other “good” customers and the business.

You may have heard of the Senator who verbally and physically assaulted a retail shop assistant in Abuja, and even instructed his personal security detail to arrest her. That was an extreme situation because it is also showed abuse of power. There was another instance when a woman verbally assaulted a young salesgirl, who refused to bend the store’s policies on refunds and exchanges. The customer went as far as threatening to call the police to close down the shop because she was a “big woman”. When the Managing Director was called, she reprimanded the salesgirl for not giving the customer what she wanted. How much of a “customer” are you, if this is your constant attitude? Again, how does the salesgirl maintain her composure in future disputes, when doing the right thing in the interest of the business isn’t honoured, simply because the customer is king or in this case queen?

Whether you own a small business or a large conglomerate, you must know that if you place a greater value on your external customers over and above that of your internal customers, even when there is cause to do otherwise, you are creating a hostile environment internally and sending a message that your employees don’t matter. Yet, it is from these same employees, that you expect maximum cooperation. If you train your employees to offer the best service and deal with difficult customers, more often than not, there should be a positive (or civil) outcome. When those “bad” customers show up, your employees will be confident and competent to handle the situation before it gets out of hand. If due process is followed and you still have a disgruntled, unsatisfied customer on your hands, you might just have to sever the business relationship. You are likely to find that some customers are dispensable, after all.

Granted, it is important to meet the requirements of all your clients and ensure that they get value, however, it is also important to show solidarity to those who serve them. In the long term, you will discover that basing your business process on the principle that ‘the customer is always right’, even in situations when they are wrong, will eventually harm the business. Not only will employees feel demoralized and unempowered to defend themselves and the business against offensive customers, but you could also create a bad reputation that could turn away potentially great employees. In life as in business, everything is subject to an upgrade. It is right to treat customers with utmost respect but it is also strategic to support your employees when THEY are in the right. Ultimately, both internal and external customers are essential contributors to a successful business. They are partners in progress and they both deserve dignity and respect.