Differentiation 101 – A Basic Guide to Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation. Differentiated Curriculum. Differentiated Instructional Strategies. At conferences, parent gatherings, and curriculum planning meetings, the term differentiation is thrown around like a Frisbee. As a newly hired teacher, I recall nodding my head and blinking blankly whenever the term was whizzed at me. The definition of differentiation is taken for granted; thus, no one ever pauses to tell what differentiation means. This article will do just that.

In a nutshell, differentiation–which is sometimes called differentiated instruction–refers to a method of curriculum planning and instruction that offers learners a wide variety of ways to acquire understanding. The following bullet points offer a quick and dirty guide to differentiated instruction. These bullets outline the three elements of the curriculum that can be differentiated as well as the three learner characteristics that can be taken into account while differentiating your instruction.

The following elements of your curriculum can be differentiated

CONTENT: Content is considered the “stuff” of the curriculum. This “stuff” includes what the instructor plans for learners to understand as well as the ways the learner will gain access to the desired knowledge and skills. To differentiate according to Content, an instructor can do the following:

  • Provide text on multiple levels of difficulty
  • Use part-to-whole or whole-to-part instruction
  • Use manipulatives, Internet resources, audio recordings, and other non-conventional “text”

PROCESS: Process refers to the activities in which learners engage in order to gain understanding of the subject. A conventional way to think about Process is to consider it as the things learners do in the class and for homework. To differentiate according to Process, the instructor can do the following:

  • Vary amount of support given by the instructor
  • Give learners choices about how they express what they learn
  • Provide varied assignment options at differing levels of difficulty or based on learner interests

PRODUCT: Products are the end result, the things learners create to demonstrate what they understand and/or are able to do after they have moved through the curriculum. Some examples of learning products are essays, poems, quiz/test answers, presentations, blogs, websites, skits, videos, plays, and other dramatizations. To differentiate according to Product, the instructor can do the following:

  • Provide rubrics (a grid showing how learners will be assessed) for assignments
  • Vary types of resources learners can use in preparing products (text, Internet resources, books, encyclopedias, interviews, tours, pamphlets, etc)
  • Allow learners to design a product around essential learning goals-to express what they know in varied ways (e.g. speaking, writing, drawing)

The following are three learner characteristics instructors can take into account when planning to differentiate:

READINESS: Readiness refers to the understanding and preparedness learners have at the start of study. Because learners vary in preparation and knowledge (in other words, what they bring to the classroom and to specific assignments), they require different levels of difficulty. To differentiate according to Readiness, instructors can do the following:

  • Add student teach-backs to assignments
  • Add or remove peer conferencing, instruction, and models for a task
  • Make the task more or less familiar (e.g. by adding or removing information and resources)

INTERESTS: Interests, in terms of differentiation, can be thought of as the learner’s “academic taste buds.” Because learners have different taste buds, instructors can align curriculum with topics or pursuits that satisfy the palate of each learner. To differentiate according to Interest, instructors can do the following

  • Provide a wide variety of choices for topics and products
  • Provide a variety of avenues for learner exploration of a topic
  • Give learners a choice of tasks and products, including learner-designed options

LEARNING PROFILE: Just as the height and shape of students vary (even within the same grade), so do their learner profiles. No matter how students are grouped, each group will have learners with different interests, levels of readiness, learning styles, talents, and standardized test scores. One understanding of learning styles is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s theory delineates the following categories: Bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Naturalistic, Intrapersonal, Visual-spatial, and Musical. To differentiate according to Learning Profile, instructors can do the following:

  • Provide choice of spaces for activities (e.g. desks, couches, and floor seating)
  • Present information in a variety of ways (video, handout, lecture, peer-to-peer talks)
  • Provide learning opportunities in various modes (musical, visual display, movement and manipulatives)

Differentiation helps instructors engineer curriculum that reaches the widest number of learners possible. With the above guide highlighting the primary tenets of differentiation, you can approach your curriculum-and the next faculty meeting-with a basket full of knowledge and tools to differentiate in all of your curriculum.

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St. Barts Resorts – An Island Teeming With Life’s Pleasures

St. Barthelemy, or St. Barts in English, is officially a part of the overseas collectivity of France which includes the Leeward Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin. Indigenous people of the island call this marvelous island as Ouanalao. This Caribbean island is located 35 km southeast of Saint Martin and north of St. Kitts. 240 km to the west of the island is Puerto Rico. When compared against neighboring islands, St. Barts resorts can rival them in terms of its natural splendor and exciting activities uniquely experienced in the island.

The entire island only occupies an area of 8 sq. miles. St. Barths is home to some diverse mix of iguanas, night-blooming cactus and the beach landscape tells a mystic story on its own. The marina is bustling with luxurious yachts. The streets are lined with designer boutiques. Restaurants serving delectable menus influenced by history and a multitude of cultures are sought after by classical wealthy Americans, Hollywood celebrities, auspicious media hipsters among others.

Other people who visit the island are people on vacation like yachtsmen who may decide to abandon their ship for a while and take temporary refuge in hotels and resorts for a more stable sleep. St. Barts hotels also play hosts to young professional Parisians. This group is easy to spot as they sport black and white clothes, pale-looking, poker-faced and well-calculated gestures. But after a few weeks in the mystic island of St. Barth, this group gets sun-kissed skin, warm personality, and an optimistic perspective in life.

There are two ways to get to St. Barts. If one prefers to go by air, one has to fly in to a neighboring island, St. Martin, via international flights then, take a connecting flight to St. Barts via local airline companies that fly to Gustave III airport. The same route is plotted if one has to go by sea. Ships would dock in St. Martin then passengers heading to St. Barts will have to switch to a charter speedboat or a daily ferry service.

Once there, there are many activities awaiting the adventure-starved visitor. The beaches are tempting and there are a total of fourteen resorts for one to explore. The great thing about the beaches is its uncongested tourist traffic even during peak season.

St. Barts resorts also offer relaxing services such as spa treatments. They have scuba diving, yachting/sailing, jet-skiing, deep sea fishing, tennis, volleyball, surfing, waterskiing and other outdoor sports. For those with the affinity for shopping, shops of all sorts are there. Night life is decent and mild. Locals put up a makeshift cinema at A.J.O.E tennis court featuring French movies complete with a stand for popcorn, hotdogs and cold drinks. Some restaurants would have live entertainment. The Yacht Club offers “Live Screen Concerts”. Then there are just a few disco houses where one can have mind-altering drinks amidst pumping music. If that’s your kind of trip then visit the “Cassa Nikki” or “Le Feeling”.

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Pros and Cons of Wild Animals As Pets

Many people find the idea of ​​having wildlife as pet as exotic and exciting. However, if you want a wild animal as a pet, you should have thorough understanding of the animal and its behavior and needs. The people who have these animals as pets are invariably trained to handle them, but even they will tell how unpredictable these animals can be. You may have read stories in the newspaper of zoo keepers being mauled by their wards.

So, having wild animals as pets has become quite a sensitive and controversial issue. Some people like to highlight the pros, while others just point out the cons. However, both should be weighed equally and only then a decision should be taken to keep a wild animal as a pet.

Here are some pros and cons of wildlife as pets.

Sometimes, conventional pets like dogs and cats can not be kept due to lack of space. In such circumstances, one can keep a wildlife like a hedgehog or gecko as a pet as they do not require that much space. Some wild animals have their own benefits. Like a hedgehog can be used to keep insects and others pests at bay in a house.

Often it has been seen purchasing a wild animal can be cheaper than purchasing a pet that is popular and has a pedigree.

Also, many proponents of wild animals feel that some species have a better chance of survival if they are adopted. It has been seen that the dart frog is facing a problem in the wild as its natural habitat is diminishing. Here, if this animal is adopted, it will have a better chance of survival.

However, there are sufficient cons and disadvantages of owning wild animals as pets. First of all, one has to take into consideration the welfare of the animal. Having a wildlife means giving due consideration to its diet, exercise and social interactions. Often, the animal will not have any interaction with other animals of its own species and will be left to lead a lonely and solitary life. Also, the owners will not be equipped to provide proper care to the animals as they may not be well-versed in these things. Many wild animals look cute and cuddly when they are small. However, as they reach adulthood or sexual maturity, their wild side takes over and the animal becomes aggressive. This is the time many owners abandon their pets or give them away to zoos.

Wild animals are carriers of many diseases that are lethal to humans. For instance, reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella infection and each year thousands of people in the US contract this disease due to their pets. Also, rats imported from Africa are known to carriers of monkey pox. An outbreak of this disease occurred in the US in 2003 when Gambian rats bought in the monkey pox into the country.

Above all, the demand for wildlife as pet is increasing. So, many illegal traders are taking advantage of this demand. Most of the wild animals are captured and then transported in cruel and inhuman manner to reach their owners. In addition, majority of the owners do not know to take care of the animals and this causes them to fall sick or even die.

So, weigh the pros and cons of having wild animals as pets before jumping to adopt one. Make sure that you are properly equipped to handle the care of the animal. Do not adopt one if you have any doubts.

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Different Uses of Graphite

Graphite felt is available in several thicknesses and widths to match the specific application. It is most commonly used as an insulating material, such as cladding, heat shields, or filters. Most of the felt is low density to help improve performance by letting a furnace or similar object heat and cool at a quicker rate. This low density also helps to control and stabilize the temperature to create the atmosphere that is more constant and maintains the more productive heat all the way through.

The felt can have an extra coating which is useful to give more protection against erosion. Graphite felt is made to be easy to cut to size and install in place. Plus, there is a rigid form of this material and created in a variety of shapes, such as rings, cylinders and baffles.

Here are a few of the popular uses of graphite:

Ceramics industry

The use of graphite is common in the ceramics industry to help increase performance while the furnaces are working at high temperatures, as well as giving greater mechanical strength and electrical conductivity.

Automotive industry

Graphite is the preferred material to use in place of asbestos in the automotive industry and can feature in a variety of areas, such as the brake lining and gaskets. Plus, it is a major aspect of brushes used in the electric motors.

Defense Technology

Graphite is a practical choice for a wide range of military aerospace vehicles because of the ability to endure high temperature ranges. Also, this material is a useful choice for space shuttles and applied as surface tiles. The material is very stable with high resistance properties, and can endure temperatures that reach up to 3000 degrees C.

Electronics industry

The use of an ultra-pure form of graphite is becoming more popular in electrical circuitry and components because of the increasing reliance on computers. Also, the graphite is a favored choice for electrical circuits and systems that rely on automation.

In addition to graphite, there is also a carbon fiber felt which is a similar type of material and useful in applications that need high temperature insulation, such as furnaces. This material also has high heat properties even with thin layers to provide the reliable and long-term insulation results. Plus, this material is able to avoid contracting or shrinking to help maintain the consistent heat and avoid issues with hot sports or cavities.

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The Importance of Family Love

I wonder if someone could explain this in words. No not at all, it is not easy to hold the weight of words describing family love. Yeah but someone can do the job nicely! The one who has departed from his family members or the one who is unable to see the beautiful faces of his parents and siblings. The one who has pulled up stakes from his family will surely realize later, that he has lost something worth caring. They all can feel the importance of Mother love in it’s intense form. They can realize the importance of father’s intimacy and the confidence of sharing tales with one’s siblings.

Though sometimes out of anger and wrath we behave unfriendly but it does not mean that we don’t care for each other. Family quarrels are bitter things but are of least importance. We should not care about these few bitter memories but rather we must think about the existing love within our family members.

Actually a family is the building block of a society. Many families when combined give rise to a social network. If the building block of a society is scattered then imagine the bitterness that spoils the whole society! But if the family members are linked to each other with the strong bonds of love and intimacy, a prosperous society will be developed.

Family members are amongst those few people in this present day world, who will genuinely worry about you. They will always be there for you, to fall back upon when you have been disillusioned with the outside world. Though at times it feels that they are interfering too much in your life, it’s only because they care for you. If sometimes you feel bad about them, do focus on your mistakes and errors and be sorry for them.

In family life, love plays the role of a magic bullet which helps you to overcome all the difficulties that come across your path. You are able to share all your sorrows and pleasures also with people who really love you and care for you! The love of your family is your ultimate confidence and strength, so take care of your family members and truly love them before it’s too late and you have to repent on your carelessness.

“There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within which all other love finds speech. This love is silent.”

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The Obstacles Home Business Owners Face When They Start A Home Business

If you have made up your mind and you are 100% certain about starting a home business, then you might have in mind what product or service you want to market. You should also know that for the first two years you will be devoted to making your business grow. If you are willing to take a huge risk such as this, you will need to be motivated, determined and confident. There are numerous obstacles that you could run into if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

To work your way through the start-up of your business you will need to take the following steps

SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). By knowing and using this method, you will be aware of what competition you are facing, where your business can grow, and you will get a better understanding of the business market.

Form a business plan. Forming a business plan can be overwhelming and slightly confusing. A business plan should include the audience that will be looking at your plan, an outline of the business plan, a collection of research and data, a general abstract of the market, an inquiry profile, finances, and finally the executive summary.
Funds for the business startup. Do you have the resources needed to start the business or do you need to find the money or money lender?

Naming your business. What will be the name of your business? This is a crucial and significantly important element.

Electing your business structure. Sometimes people get confused due to the business types. You will need to elect the right business partners. The choice you make will cause an impact on your business.

The license and permit. This entails registering your business, you might also need a business identification number, and may also include other tax licenses and zoning permits.

The location. This step also entails many minor tasks such as finding the right location for your business, buying office supplies and equipment and designing your business place.

The insurance. You are responsible for any risks associated to your business. Getting a business insurance will protect your office of any disasters or litigations that could occur.

Lastly, create an accounting system. Many individuals that want to start their own business tend to fail because they get caught up with location and buying supplies and other details that they forget to keep an account of money going in and out. A good option would be to hire a professional accountant that will keep track of the businesses finances.

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Investing In Quality Auto Repair Services – Is It Worth It?

Auto Repair Services- Why You Should Invest In Quality Auto Repair Services?

Investing in quality auto repair services can help you enjoy a safe and smooth drive. While you can always take a DIY approach for the general car maintenance services such as an oil change, tune-ups or diagnostics but always hire a professional for the complex car problems. If you want to get a better value of your car in future then you should know how to take care of your car.

Choosing A Quality Repair Shop

Always get referrals/recommendations from your friends, relatives, coworkers and other people you trust. Co-workers can help you find a good repair shop in your locality. It is always a good idea to find a good repair shop before you need one. This way you won’t have to pick someone randomly.

Thanks To The Internet!

Look online to learn about the top repair shops operating in your locality. Compare the different quotes to choose the best deal. Ask them to show the license and also check whether it’s an updated license or not.

Consult local consumer protection agency to see if there is any complaint against the repair shop from the old or existing customers. Above all, you should make sure that they can fix the problem easily.

Tips

Have a look at some of the following tips to consider before you start your search for the best repair shop:-

Tip 1

Read The Car Manual

You should always take time to read the manual and understand the specific instructions mentioned in the schedule. A manual has all the necessary information. So you should go through all the instructions carefully before choosing any repair station.

Tip 2

No Quick Decisions

Remember, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best deal before you meet a breakdown. It will help you to make the right choice because you are not choosing someone randomly. Never ever choose a repair shop/repair mechanic without checking the testimonials. A little bit of research can help you choose the right service provider for your car.

Tip 3

Word Of Mouth

It is always a good idea to get referrals/recommendations from your friends and family. Word of mouth is still considered as one of the best ways to find a reliable professional.

Conclusion

Put a little bit of effort to find quality auto repair services. It will give you many benefits in the long run.

Happy Driving!

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Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not deal with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and / or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organization's reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts usually occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between collections and / or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of 'being proved right'. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognize the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work collections.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it may sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organization to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfill that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • Problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • Delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • Difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • Drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from concessions due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view thought about by the many influences on their lives.

These effects include;

Genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the color of our eyes and hair to our health.

Upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values ​​they instilled in us.

Culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

Economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

Education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

The environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighborhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

Life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person's point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • People do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • People are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • People do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognizing the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention . Customers or colleges who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person . Maintainable reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting . Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc. All add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or collections you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm . Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone's working life, when you think "If I get asked one more stupid question, I'll go mad!", But sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, Possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior collectors, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it's just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness . There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whatever you simply can not get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences . Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behavior. Do not make fun of customs you do not understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a college into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognized early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • Aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building Anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • Malicious or negative gossip among collections
  • Difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • Tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognize any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavor to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and possibly avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognized and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, it can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organization and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleges may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • Drug or alcohol affected persons
  • People with guns or other weapons
  • Situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • People who appear to be violent or threatening
  • Situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • Keep calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • Move them, discreetly, out of the main area of ​​your office or shop
  • Take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • Bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and / or entities such as police as soon as possible.

Organizational requirements

You can not simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a deferred balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organizations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the amount of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organization is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organization who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organization must be considered.

Organization policy on refunds or exchange . Most organizations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organizations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organization and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains that they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organization. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. "Passing the buck" at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and do not pass them off saying "It's not my problem" or "The lady who handled this is not here now ….". At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • Exactly what the problem is
  • When & where it occurred
  • How long ago the problem occurred
  • What they paid for the product or service
  • How they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of ​​the person's expectations and how they impact on the organization's policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; Stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive income for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of "give and take" where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable exit. This would normally occur in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; An agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable exit in mind, you can then begin To negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Do not get stuck on one solution just because it's the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organizations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person may need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem . When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can not reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can not work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It's not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over who fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's place; Empathise with them. Use expressions such as "I can understand why you would feel that way" and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Do not interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilized manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the court of now listening to your (organization's) position. For example; "I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?"

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • Areas of the business that are not working properly
  • Processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • Things that customer like / or do not like about your products or services
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organization can then use it to continuously improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails) of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organization's continuous improvement program but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continuously look for ways in which an organization can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organization can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organization. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • To ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • To maintain its reputation
  • To learn from errors or mistakes
  • To make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be taken by way of a phone call, letter or even even a personal visit to the person concerned to ensure that any issue that exists between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place ? A close examination of the circumances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organizations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organization's policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service / product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively ? This is a very important question from the customers and the organizations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organization, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organizational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the output – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organization money? Too much money? Was the income worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer's reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organization. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organizations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

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Why Computer Hardware Is Important

In this day and age, it is hard to deny the influence of technology in our lives. We live in an era where pretty much is automated and computerized. And amidst all the technological advancement that humankind has achieved, one important device has been created that will only sure to become more relevant to our lives as technology progresses, the computer. No one can deny that computers are now an essential part of our lives, the same way a cell phone and television does. It is safe to say that in this day and age, having no computer would be an inconvenience. Which is why it is important that we know the how our computer works so that we would be aware of the things that we should do in case it stops working. The hardware of the computer is considered to be the most important because without it, it will simply not work.

Simply put if you know how to handle the hardware of a computer and know each of their function for the unit, then you can easily determine what the problem is in case the unit stops functioning. In order to be familiar with basic computer troubleshooting, then you also need to be familiar with computer hardware. A good example of this is the memory of the computer (RAM). All programs and applications that are ran in a computer needs memory. Without RAM it simply won’t function. Aside from that, even if you have a RAM but it does have the specifications to keep up with the programs that are being ran, then the operation would be slowed down to a crawl. So when it comes to computer hardware, you have to make sure that it is not obsolete, so you need to upgrade depending on what sort of program that you are usually using.

When handling computer hardware, you have to keep in mind some safety measures so you can manipulate the unit safely. Before opening any computer cases, you have to make sure that the unit is unplugged or you might risk electrocution or shocks. While checking your hardware components, always check for damaged parts because that is most likely the one that is causing problems. When inserting components and parts, you have to remember that if it doesn’t fit, then most likely you are inserting it on the wrong slot. If it does not fit, then do not force it or you will risk breaking the component. Before touching any parts inside the unit, make sure that you discharge yourself first by through a grounded metal object or you can use an anti-static wrist strap or mat which is sold in stores for cheap.

By knowing and analyzing every computer hardware part you will know about its importance and if it ever breaks down then you can perform the proper troubleshooting steps. Every hardware component is important for the computer’s operation. The performance of your computer largely depends on how good your hardware is, so be sure that they are always in good working condition.

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Ethernet Cables – Red, Yellow, Or Blue?

Ethernet cables come in many colours, it’s common to see red, green, blue, yellow, white and grey leads in every office. A lot of people get confused when they are buying a new lead as they wrongly believe the different colours do different jobs. A coloured Ethernet cable is used for identification. If you have an office network that has many connections, it can be difficult to know which cable goes where. This is why coloured leads are used, you can easily identify that the blue cable is connecting computer A to the network whilst the yell one is connecting computer B and the green goes to computer C. It’s not uncommon to see leads being sold in twenty plus different colours.

Another reason to use coloured leads is to help set up new equipment. Many internet service providers will send a free modem to the customer when they take out a new connection. Not everyone is confident at setting these modems up, they can come with two different types of lead, an RJ11 ADSL lead and an Ethernet cable. Both of these cables look very similar and many people try to connect the RJ11 lead into the Ethernet socket. Internet service providers use coloured leads for this very reason. The instruction book will advise the customer to connect one end of the blue Ethernet cable (or whatever colour is supplied) to socket A on the modem and then to your computer, this avoids any confusion and probably saves them from thousands of technical helpline calls each year.

Whatever the reason for replacing your Ethernet cable, maybe you need a longer length as you have moved the computer, the dog may have chewed your original, you may be trying to increase the speed with a better quality cable (we cover that in another article) or you may simply have lost the lead when you moved house. You can rest assured that you can use any coloured Ethernet cable. The only caveat to add would be to ensure you do not buy a Crossover cable, these are used to connect two computers together without using a router, they are always clearly advertised as Crossover and it would be difficult to buy one in error.

If you are looking to upgrade the speed of your connection, an easy and cheap upgrade is to opt for a Cat6 cable. Cat6 cables are cable of faster Gigabit speeds and are backwards compatible with standard Cat5e systems.

When buying a new lead it’s a good idea to look online, there are big savings to be had. Many online stores can sell at a fraction of the price a high street store as they have less overheads. For a short two meter cable, you should expect to pay around three pounds.

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