A Former FBI Agent shares 8 Qualities the Most Resilient People Share

FBI agents need to be resilient so they can solve cases that have no easy or obvious solution. They go to where they are needed, not to where they feel comfortable.

As an FBI agent, I was assigned investigations where I had no idea how to solve them, but this was my thinking: Drop me in the middle of any squad or any situation, anywhere, anytime.

I will not be scared, nor will I give up. If I’m knocked down, I’ll drag myself back up and keep at it until I solve the case.

This is the mindset of a survivor — a person who is resilient enough to bounce back from the trauma of everyday life.

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, you know that success requires the resilience to keep moving ahead even when confronted with obstacles and roadblocks. You have a willingness to swim upstream and not give up simply because the tide is against you.

Resilient people are successful because they possess these eight qualities:

1. They take responsibility for their actions

I quickly learned that the FBI would not tolerate whining and complaining when my circumstances were less than ideal. Instead, they drilled into me the need to take personal control and responsibility for the direction life was taking me.

Resilient leaders do not seek out happiness by relying on others, nor do they blame others for their situation.

How to make it work for you: Stop whining, blaming others and pointing fingers if you don’t get what you want.

2. They develop good daily habits

Research by Karl E. Weick, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Michigan, shows that when people are under stress, they regress to deeply embedded habits.

The way we train ourselves to think, feel and behave during our regular daily life is exactly the way we will respond when hit with hard times.

How to make it work for you: Take the time to develop good daily habits that become so ingrained into your thinking that you respond in ways that set you up for success when you’re confronted with the unknown.

3. They focus on possibilities

Resilient people are always asking this question: What can I do to change my situation? When they focus on the possibilities that lie before them, they make their own luck. They do what they can with the hand they’ve been dealt, and in doing so, they take control of their life.

In his book “The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity,” Michael Marmot explains how clerks and secretaries are more likely to die of heart attacks than senior executives.

Even taking into consideration other variables such as smoking and poor nutrition, his research team concluded that those in lower-category jobs had less control over their life, and they were more likely to suffer from heart disease.

How to make it work for you: Believe you can control the important events in your life. Often this will mean you will need to be flexible in the way that you approach your goals and agile in the way in which you overcome obstacles.

4. They are positive thinkers

There is a big difference between being an optimist and being a positive thinker. Positive thinkers are not necessarily happy or optimistic.

Instead, positive thinkers are blunt realists who look misery right in the eye and confront the most brutal facts of their day without expecting things to change. They adapt to their circumstances without ever losing hope.

As FBI agents, we planned arrests by giving priority to what could go wrong. We were not optimists who hoped everything would go according to plan. We weighed the possibility of a negative outcome with equal heft as the possibility of a positive outcome.

How to make it work for you: Hunt the good stuff and find five positive thoughts to counter each negative thought. When confronted with something that feels overwhelming, you will need to find five positive thoughts to counter each one negative thought that comes to mind.

5. They prioritize what is important

Squad briefings were a great way to help agents get over a hurdle in one of their investigations. When an agent briefed the squad on a case, white boards were created with priorities listed from most important to least.

Prioritizing information is a useful resilience tool because forces your brain to interact with information rather than simply react to it. Lists are an excellent way of forcing different parts of the brain to interact with each other. This also prevents different parts of our brain from fighting against each another for attention and energy.

How to make it work for you:Writing down your priority list helps you to visualize, so keep paper and pen handy. Typing your list out on a computer does not satisfy the brain’s need for visualization.

6. They manage emotions

You are a wimp if you run away from a negative emotion or deny unpleasant thoughts and feelings. You don’t think you’re strong enough to handle the hard stuff.

Too often, people pretend negative emotions and feelings don’t exist. Ignoring negative feelings is not healthy; nor is wallowing in them. Resilient people hurt when life hands them a rough time, but they never forget that they still have control over their attitude.

How to make it work for you: Identify your emotions, and then call them, or label them, for what they really are. If the emotion is pride, envy, or anger, own up to it. Although most people expect labeling emotions to increase their occurrence, when you label your fear or anxiety you actually lessen your discomfort. It’s important, however, to keep the label to one or two words because, if you open up dialogue about it, you will only increase the emotion.

7. Reframe negative events

Setbacks are a natural part of life. Resilience requires mental toughness because it is the ability to recover quickly from adversity, no matter your situation.

Nip negative emotions and reactions in the bud when they first appear. This is when they are the weakest.

Cold cases are those in which the leads have grown cold, but nothing motivates an FBI case agent as much as looking into the face of an innocent victim who trusts and expects them to find the answer. Quit is not a word used in FBI investigations.

How to make it work for you: Reframing is a fancy word for changing the way you look at adversity or a negative situation. Reframing can provide you with different ways of interpreting your less than perfect situation so you can expand the possibilities and overcome the adversity.

8. Find their tribe

Friendships are important: they can lift you up, provide security, and prevent slip-ups in both business and life.

As Sebastian Junger wrote in his book “Tribe,” “We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding — ‘tribes.’ This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.”

A strong psychological thread developed during our training as special agents is the concept of the “FBI family.” FBI employees will close ranks around one of their own if the individual is targeted or harmed in some way.

How to make it work for you: Find your tribe. Whether it’s your biological family or your adoptive one from work, school or church, find people who give you the sense of security and connectivity.

LaRae Quy was an FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent for 24 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. government. As an FBI agent, she developed the mental toughness to survive in environments of risk, uncertainty, and deception. LaRae is the author of “Secrets of a Strong Mind” and “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths.” If you’d like to find out if you are mentally tough, get her free 45-question Mental Toughness Assessment. Follow her on Twitter.


The Case for Customer Service Workers


ron palinkas national service manager

In the emerging experience economy, the proper management and handling of customer conversations is suddenly one of the most important functions a company has. And just as suddenly, that makes customer service agents among your most important employees. Here are five ways to make these agents your company’s competitive advantage.

1. Let go of the past.

For the last quarter of a century, customer service departments have been cost optimized to the point of diminishing return. Customer service agents have been stripped of their personalities and problem-solving skills in order to adhere to arbitrary service protocols that are out of step with the experience economy. Common practices include: Getting customers off of the phone quickly; re-verifying customers who have already been through multiple layers of identification; using call scripts and workflows in conflict with customer preferences; sitting through quality-control sessions with supervisors that scrutinize every utterance of their interactions; and finally being judged on a satisfaction, effort, or a promoter score that was assigned by a customer which they had little ability to directly influence. Step one is take a giant step back from this. And let most of it go.

2. Balance technology with humanity.

In the experience economy, the retooling of customer service becomes the first place to start in order to create a sustainable competitive advantage, attract the best customer service talent, and figure out how to actually deliver customer experience at a scale unlike ever before. And technology is the first place to look to enact such a change. There is no shortage of new and innovative technologies that will be central to those experiences, especially in a world where devices and customers are connected in powerful new ways. However, there is something more fundamental than the technology: It’s how the agent and the technology come together that creates the “secret sauce” that customers are looking for — and willing to pay a premium to get. Find the right mix.

ron palinkas national service manager3. Build connected experiences.

Finding the right mixture of technology and humanity is critical, but the other half of this equation is to build seamless, connected experiences for your customers. Connected experiences empower service agents to be at their very best when a customer needs their expertise. They “set the table” for agents in ways that allow them to impute expertise at the right moment in a given customer’s journey. A connected experience is transparent, knows customer preferences, supplies agents with complete 360-degree customer data, and anticipates escalation paths. Giving customers a connected experience is a crucial element in keeping them from feeling alienated and dehumanized. Give them a smooth ride instead.

4. Let your agents solve problems.

This sounds simple but it is not. A conscious decision must be made to enable your service employees to apply unique insights and problem-solving skills with the best information available to them, every time. Rather than merely following scripts and protocols, customer interaction in the experience economy demands the precise application of human interaction at the appropriate moment — not simply when something has gone wrong and a customer needs someone to gripe to. Unleashing service employees to provide the kind of help they want to provide — when they might be limited by service protocols or company standards — is critical to enhancing their ability to effectively solve problems in a time-sensitive manner. Let them do their job.

national service manager ron palinkas5. Let your agents be human.

The best service agents, like anyone doing something they love, have a genuine caring nature and passion for helping people. They will tell you that’s why they come to work every day. And that’s why they feel fulfilled at the end of every day too. When a company taps into that potential, it unleashes the most powerful, authentic form of service possible. This is what customers crave in the experience economy. Moreover, it brings a sense of pride, ownership, and empowerment to the service workers who deliver customer experiences every day.

In March, an Accenture study cited that companies lost $1.6 trillion last year alone due to customers switching providers because of poor customer service. Moreover, the study went on to reveal that customers prefer to deal with human beings instead of digital channels. This underscores the need to optimize the role of the customer service agent. Retooling for the new experience economy might start with technology, but more than ever it also embraces human input. And this starts with the customer service agent. Releasing them from antiquated protocols, balancing technology with humanity, connecting them like never before, and then empowering them to solve problems as only empathic human beings can will deliver a competitive advantage unlike any other.


Original Posthttp://salesforce.com

How To End An E-mail if You Want A Response

https://www.rivaliq.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Email-Marketing.jpg ron Palinkas Director of ServiceI’ve always thought of obsessing over your email openings and closings as a bit like obsessing over your outfit – not worth it.As long as you don’t do something outrageous – say, sign an email to your CEO with “xoxo” or show up to a job interview wearing a clown costume – you’ll be fine with whatever you choose.

I was wrong.

According to a new analysis from Boomerang, an email productivity app, different email sign-offs yield different response rates. And woe to the unappreciative emailers among us: The analysis found that the best way to end an email is with gratitude.Specifically, results showed that the most effective email sign-off is “thanks in advance”.

For the study, Boomerang looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads from mailing list archives in which, they wrote in a blog post, many emails involved “people asking for help or advice, hoping for a reply”.

Then they picked out the eight email sign-offs that appeared over 1000 times each and figured out the response rate linked to each sign-off. Here’s what they found:

  1. “Thanks in advance” had a response rate of 65.7 per cent
  2. “Thanks” had a response rate of 63 per cent
  3. “Thank you” had a response rate of 57.9 per cent
  4. “Cheers” had a response rate of 54.4 per cent
  5. “Kind regards” had a response rate of 53.9 per cent
  6. “Regards” had a response rate of 53.5 per cent
  7. “Best regards” had a response rate of 52.9 per cent
  8. “Best” had a response rate of 51.2 per cent

The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5 per cent.

The Boomerang blog post also cites 2010 research from Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, which found that participants who received an email from a student asking for feedback on a cover letter were twice as likely to help when the email included the phrase, “Thanks so much! I am really grateful.”

Interestingly, three separate etiquette experts previously told Business Insider that “best” is the most appropriate way to end an email. And one such expert said that “thanks” is “obnoxious if it’s a command disguised as premature gratitude”.

The Boomerang analysis didn’t measure how recipients felt about the sender – just whether they responded. It also didn’t measure the power dynamics at play. Maybe your boss signs their emails “best” and they always get an answer.

Bottom line: If you want a response to your email, it can’t hurt to end it with an expression of gratitude. Thanks for reading!

by Shana Lebowitz

Read more: http://www.afr.com/leadership/