The Art of Being Mindful at Work


A wonderful friend of mine is a very successful real estate agent. She spends most of her days, evenings and weekends helping others to hopefully find, or sell a home. Of course, she meets clients at an emotionally charged impasse in their lives — contemplating a change in residence. This can often be a stressful experience.

There are so many elements that enter the conversation; jobs, money, family, security, space, hopes and dreams. (We buy or sell a home, for more reasons than I could count.)

Any of these elements can become a huge challenge during the process.

Having observed my friend over the years, I’ve noticed one critical strategy that she employs: patience. She allows her clients the emotional space to be the human beings that they are. They are allowed to express emotion, to vent, to change direction — and their own minds.

She doesn’t judge or react in the moment. She doesn’t shame them for being upset or frustrated. She lets the whole process unfold in a way that allows the safety to find what they need, at that very moment in their lives.

I respect that. I like to call it “Mindful Real Estate”.

I believe the reason she has experienced such great success, is not that she has an impressive resume — or has deep connections. It is because she respects her clients and the daunting process in which they find themselves. She allows the process to unfold organically.

There can be bumps in that road, and that is entirely OK.

Whether we are at work, home or play, we can all learn from her strategy. Don’t fight the condition of being human — and offer patience whenever you can muster the fortitude to do so.

I’m making it my business to remember that lesson going forward.

Maybe this can help you in some small way, as well.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto.


A little less talk, a little more action please

we-waited-30-minutes-no-serviceI am not entirely sure of the source of the quote,”Less talk. More do.” (I asked Tom Peters , but he says it is not his.)  However, I do know that when it comes to customer service, you’d better back up your declaration of being “customer-centric” with some pretty solid behaviors. As we all have learned, a single standout interaction with a customer can define a business – for better – or for worse.

In a recent post at LinkedIn, “It’s not really about you: It’s about your customers”,  I explore the never ending search to become more effective as an organization. Interestingly, this quest is often rooted in how we view and respond to our customers. Do the behaviors of your business match your expressed philosophy? There is no time like the present to consider this carefully.


Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. Connect with her and continue the conversation on Twitter and Linkedin.

What We Can All Learn From the Business of Selling Shoes

I don’t love shoes. There I said it — and I hope all of you don’t think I have completely lost my mind. To me shoes are just, well, a pair of shoes. If they are comfortable I wear them. If they have the potential to keep my feet warm in sub-freezing temperatures, they may earn a place on my short list. (I adore fleece-lined Merrels).

But, the business of selling shoes — that is an entirely different story. That realm earns a place on my “obsession short list”. As it turns out, selling shoes can teach us quite a bit about customers and meeting their needs. I may not love shoes. But, I marvel at their market power.

The Power of Shoes
Shoes are indeed a highly a coveted product. It’s not a surprise that savvy businesses have paid attention to the “Carrie Bradshaw Effect” (rooted in the wildly successful series”Sex in the City” series), and capitalized on developing market opportunities. The idea of being a “shoe lover” seems to have emerged from the shadows. Even the obsessive component of being a shoe aficionado — owning far too many pairs — is out in the open and embraced. Suddenly purchasing shoes is not only fashionable, but extremely “cool”.

Overcoming Objections
Even though I don’t love shoes, I am fascinated by the business of selling them. Those companies that have innovated and excelled in this area, have essentially rounded up a list of the problems shoe buying poses and have resolved those problems with tremendous creativity. In some cases, they have learned to respect human nature and formulated a plan that didn’t fight the current. That was the secret to success — and this could apply to many product categories.

Smart Shoe Selling Wisdom — I’m just not sure. 
People want to be free to change their minds, and Zappos was early to embrace this reality. The fear that many customers once harbored about shopping online, the actual process of returning an item, was an objection Zappos was quick to handle. Who ever had heard of hassle free returns at no charge? Furthermore,  Zappos is built to support customer service and maintain that commitment.

Lesson learned: Don’t fight human nature – work with it.

Time is money
Some people simply don’t have the time or access to pursue the hunt, and some start-ups realized this. Not unlike Pandora radio for shoes, some companies get to know your likes, and choose the shoes for you, after a brief style assessment and send them to you. (Think of a fruit of the month club for shoes.) For busy women with limited time, or those with limited access to shopping, this is a perfect solution.

Lessons learned: Know your customer and never underestimate the power of convenience.

Budgets are a fact of life.
Don’t show me a shoe I can’t afford — sort through the options and assemble a group of great choices that I can afford. DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) is one example, and sensitivity to customer pocketbooks is key here. Certainly, there are those who have the cash and are willing to invest 700 dollars in a pair of Louboutin pumps. However, I guarantee there are far more customers who would like to invest less and just look like they spent more.

Lesson learned: Pick a price strategy and excel at serving that customer market.

Re-size and apply to your world
Whatever your product or service, make a list of the most looming objections that your potential customers may have. Then devise equally good solutions to those problems.

Chances are you’ll be putting your best possible foot forward.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. Find her on Twitter and Linkedin.