Wax-On, Wax-Off: Clean Up Your Business Skills

How do you turn your business acumen from good to great? The answer… it’s all in the little details.

Take the classic 1984 film “The Karate Kid”; Mr. Miyagi trains his protégé, Daniel, to become a karate master with a series of seemingly menial tasks, the most famous of which is, of course, the endlessly quotable instruction: “Wax on, wax off”. As the movie progresses we learn that Mr. Miyagi has used the repetition of seemingly arbitrary activities to create muscle memory and instinctive reflexes that help turn Daniel from a helpless teen into a formidable martial artist.

You may not be competing in a karate competition, but each and every day we come across opportunities in the workplace where we could become business gurus through perfecting little instinctive actions.

Let me give you an example. We all spend time on the phone, talking to potential clients, fielding questions, or even taking down messages for John who’s getting his 12th cup of coffee! Here are three deceptively simple yet effective ways in which you can transform the manner in which you conduct business on the phone.

1) Use People’s First Name
How many times have you been denied access to the individual you need to speak to by a gatekeeper? Have you tried using that person’s first name only? This small innocuous use of a contact’s first name will make you seem, not like you’re trying to push your way to their attention, but like a friend casually calling to catch up on the week’s events. It’s a simple trick but it works like a charm.

2) Get Rid of Crutch Words
Work on eliminating your crutch words. Crutch words are impulsive, filler words that do nothing but make you sound unprofessional and unsure, such as: um, right, okay, uh, like, etc. Try isolating the words you use and make a conscious effort to remove them from your vocabulary. With focus and time you’ll begin sounding like a world-class orator.

3) Smile When You Talk
Smile while you talk on the phone. Yes, we know the other person can’t see you, but they can hear you, and they hear more than the words you say. Tone is very important in verbal communication, and when you smile it changes the way you come across, even on the phone. It provides an opportunity to inject personality and enthusiasm, so that you’ll sound more relatable. Sure, you might think that you look a deranged clown but they can’t see you, remember? It might be hard at first but soon it will become infectious.

More often than not proper phone skills do not come naturally, and it’s not easy to perfect these skills at an instinctive level. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We need to train ourselves to rewire our brain so that these simple skills become so second nature that you hardly remember you’re doing it at all, much like Daniel’s incessant chores fine-tuned his instincts to become a karate champion!

By crafting the perfect set of basic phone skills you’ll be able to build the rapport and trust necessary to ensure business success. So ask yourself how important success is to you and your business? It’s time to start waxing on and waxing off!

– Aaron