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.
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’.
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.
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.
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
EPICTETUS… the Greek sage and philosopher
said … “NATURE HAS GIVEN TO MAN, ONE TONGUE, BUT TWO EARS, THAT WE MAY
HEAR FROM OTHERS TWICE AS MUCH AS WE SPEAK”
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.
Give your full attention
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
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
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.
Stop thinking and be present
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.
Really pay attention
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.
Listen without bias
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.
Listen at a deeper level
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.
Demonstrate you’re listening
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.
be slow to answer but quick to listen. It will confer on you the strange power
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
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,
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
Rule 2: Offer
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
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
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
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.
even if it’s not positive, you still thank them for their time.
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.
“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
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
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
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
Oh, but to have the grace of a ballet dancer. Ballet dancers make it look so easy but their dedication and skill are second to none. Ballet is one of the most difficult skill to master and it takes a combination of bravery, respect, skill, charm, and elegance. Alice Abraham said, “In life as in dance, grace glides on blistered feet.” In other words, life won’t always be smooth, it won’t always be easy but when you can smile and show up in spite of the rocks you have to climb, that my friends, is what it means to be graceful.
This article breaks down GRACE as an acronym
so that you can take the words to heart and apply it in your life, practically.
G is for Gallant. To be gallant is to be polite and thoughtful in word and deed. It also means to be dauntless and fearless in the face of opposition, having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and tread new waters. Your confidence and self-assuredness can be seen in your gait, your stance, your smile, and quiet determination.
R is for Respect. This is more than just being polite to your elders; it’s about caring for the people and things around you because you acknowledge their importance to you. It also applies to you showing respect to your trade or profession and consideration for the people around you who are likely to be affected by your words and actions. Respect indeed is reciprocal, so if you honour others, you yourself will be honoured.
A is for Adroitness. To be adroit means to be skillful, quick in your thinking and nimble. An adroit dancer can dance in his sleep, the same way Stevie Wonder can play the piano so expertly, albeit being blind. There is a saying, “Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.” Even if you are given an opportunity that was not based on merit, it is your ability and aptitude that will keep you there. That is why you must always invest in yourself to become a man or woman of substance.
C is for Charm, Character and Charisma. You can’t be graceful without being charming or having a presence that is undeniable and unforgettable. Charm is a quality that makes you likable, attractive and approachable. It draws people to you, like a moth to a flame. This is one attribute you cannot afford to live without.
E is for Elegance. Just like the ballet dancer, you have got to have panache. Be classy and tasteful in your appearance and behaviour. This doesn’t mean be snooty, snobbish or consider yourself better than others, rather, let there be an air of dignified grace around you that reflects your values, integrity and character.
Anyone can slip a foot into a ballet slipper, but it is the one who
has blistered feet from years of practice and determination; the one who
instead of giving up, shows up, performance after performance……now that is
the graceful one.