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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

How to Escape the Drama Triangle

Imagine a child walks into his house and he’s obviously upset. His mum tries to step forward to help and starts suggesting things he should do to feel better.

The child rejects her. She gets upset. Her partner comes home. There’s more tension. Everything starts to unravel.

A similar situation happens in your business – your team members may often react in ways you don’t respond well to and it becomes a bigger drama than it should be.

However, there’s an easy way to escape this…

You can see that the Karpman Drama Triangle is such an easy trap to fall into – but it is also actually an easy one to escape.

Drama is different from conflict. Conflict in your team can actually be great, and useful when directed well.

However, when you get drawn into a toxic cycle around this triangle, it doesn’t help your business grow and it will contribute to an overall negative culture in your business.

Master the art of this triangle in every aspect of your life and not only does it become easier to manage your relationships with people, but you and the people you interact with will all get much more out of your relationships.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What happened there?

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to help the other person and you had the best intentions in your mind and heart and something triggered? And the entire conversation went in the wrong direction and you just wondered what happened there? Then emotions start flying and people start feeling in a certain way and you’re kind of lost and overwhelmed.

As to what did you do wrong… well, it’s bound to happen because when you’re dealing with human beings, all kinds of biochemical reactions and emotions come into play.

The Karpman Drama Triangle

I wanted to share with you a very simple yet very powerful framework which exists in behavioural science and it’s called Karpman Drama Triangle. Once you understand this drama triangle, you can see it happening around you and how you being a part of it. This whole emotional vortex that exists is unnecessary and is purely draining, energy-wise and emotions wise.

Now how Karpman Drama Triangle looks like is something like this:

You’ve got three main positions: Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim. And as it says, Persecutor is the one who gets upset, who thinks that things should be handled in a certain way. Rescuer obviously wants to save people, wants to help people, and in fact loves the recognition or the attention they get for doing that. And Victim is a person who feels that things are happening to this person and is helpless, and is just suffering. That’s how, at least, the person is thinking.

Now I’ll give you an example so that it just becomes a little clearer to you.

Family Drama

So imagine a child walks into the house and has got something playing on his mind. Mum (or any parent, I’m just using mum as I’m a mother myself) comes forward as a Rescuer and says, what happened? And tries to help. As you can imagine.

The child doesn’t want the help at that time so acts a little rudely.

Mum is doing so much for the child already. She feels that she’s being Victimized and she’s trying to help. So from being a Rescuer mum moves to being a Victim and the child is being a Persecutor.

Mum, obviously being the authority figure, gets upset with the child and shouts or kind of shows those stern feelings, and starts Persecuting.

The child all of a sudden from Persecutor becomes the Victim.

Mum is now sitting here in the evening. The spouse walks in and obviously, there’s a discussion.

The spouse tries to be the Rescuer. Again the Victim mum is sitting there and saying I do so much, what’s gone wrong?

And as you can imagine the whole family environment has gone out of the window and there is a big drama happening within the household with no positive outcome nearby.

And Business Drama

Similarly, in the business situation, as you can imagine; you’re in the best mindset, you try to give some feedback to your team member, your team member feels you have not really understood where he or she was coming from, and so is a Victim.

They ignore your advice and what you asked him or her to do. You obviously get upset, you start Persecuting.

The team member maybe responds back or shows some kind of a body language. You all of a sudden start feeling like a Victim.

You go back home, share with your spouse saying, “Look I tried to do so much and my team doesn’t pay attention or respect me.” And again, as you can see, the whole thing is going on and on.

Sometimes I’ve seen business owners giving some very strong feedback to their team member but then they get so conscious of the team member feeling bad, so they all of a sudden move to being a Rescuer. They’re trying to help the team member, the team member then starts Persecuting in his or her own style. The business owner starts feeling like the Victim and so on and so forth. You get the point right?

You see how draining and how wasteful this whole interaction is just because people are stuck in this triangle, moving from one position to the other without even being aware of how they’re coming across. But everyone is right and has his or her own capacity in their own mind.

Escape the Drama

The reason I’m sharing with you this particular framework is because I want you to be very observant, to be very attentive when this is happening or has the potential of happening, and as soon as you can see that one might be getting sucked into this whole Karpman Triangle. The best way to get out of it, whether you’re dealing with your loved one or you’re dealing with your team members, or with anyone, is to try not to be the Rescuer. Try not to be the Victim or be that Persecutor.

Do this by asking the other person one question: How can I help you?

Remember that mum? What if she had asked the child, “How can I help you?”

“Leave me alone Mum.”

“All right that’s fine. Then whenever you’re ready we’ll talk.”

Right, so there is a nice, at parity kind of relationship.

And your team member – yeah you’re giving feedback, but at least ask people or tell them, give them the context and tell them how you’re trying to help them.

Or even before you do that, ask them what they think about it and then say, “How can I help you?” Or, “Is it OK if I help you?”

Take permission.

When people give you permission to help them you’ll be surprised at how they stop feeling like a Victim. Then there is parity, the word is “parity”. They feel that they have autonomy and equality in that status, so they’re more willing to receive that feedback that you’re trying to give.

And they’d be thankful, they’ll do something about it.

But first, take permission before you start being the Rescuer or Persecutor and therefore end up feeling like a Victim if people are not paying attention to what you’re saying. So the best way to get out of your Karpman Drama Triangle is to ask the question.

How can I help you?

Need more frameworks for productivity?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionThese are the kinds of frameworks and strategies we will pull out of the bag as and when our clients need them.

To find out which of our 357 strategies may be useful to where you are in your business at the moment, book a free coaching session. We’ll make sure we look at your business and give you entirely complimentary set of strategies you can go away with.


How You Should Serve Tea on a Plane

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Earlier this year, I was on a flight back from China and was ordering some tea on the plane. The experience inspired a thought which I had to share with you.

It all starts with a cough

You see after I had delivered my speaking engagement in China, I came down with a pretty bad cough. Travelling with a cough is terrible, especially on a plane!

So, in an effort to try and suppress this horrible scratch in my throat, I had to keep asking for tea. I pressed the call button and asked for the hot drink from the air hostess. The very kind woman brought me a steaming cup of tea with a big smile on her face.

The hot water soothed my throat for a total of about 5 seconds before I had to press the call button to request another. After three rounds of this, she came to me with a Chamomile tea bag for my cup and a big flask of hot water. “Just let me know if you need it refilled. Hope you feel better soon.”

I was so incredibly grateful for her initiative as I definitely needed many more cups of tea – but would never have thought to have asked if they had a flask. (In fact, I had to even ask for that flask to be refilled!)

Reflecting on her behaviour, I really had to admire her work ethic – and I realised there was a real lesson here for business owners.

This is exemplary of “exceptional”

I would call this a very good example of what “exceptional customer service” means. Most of our clients are in service industries, and many of them work with ultra-high net worth individuals. These are the kind of customer for whom nothing but the best is tolerated – and better than the best is expected.

This air hostess is an example of an employee that applied herself to the situation and went above and beyond what was asked of her in order to achieve the best result. Her priority was not, “Do what is on my job description.” It was, “Do what makes these passengers as comfortable as possible.”

This kind of thinking is what should be applied across your business when working with customers and clients. And you, personally, should be holding yourself to that standard in the way you work with your team, and the way you organise yourself.

Your employee’s behaviour begins with your behaviour

If you are reading this and thinking, “How do I get my team members to exhibit that kind of initiative and care?” Well, the answer is probably in the mirror.

You set the culture in your business. You are the one deciding how many team meetings you have, and you – the business leader – should be steering the boat and guiding where priorities sit. You should be reminding your team to resist proxies and showing them what level is tolerated.

If you’re looking for your employees to exhibit exceptional customer service, then you need to provide exceptional leadership and management. Upskill the way you lead and you will increase the output of your whole business.

I’ll just leave you with one final lesson from my tea-drinking on a plane – if you’re going to drink that much tea on a plane, it’s wise to make sure you’ve got an aisle seat and aren’t seated too far from the toilets!

Do you need to upskill your leadership?

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The Formula of Complexity

Business owners who know how to take advantage of growth are those who keep their eyes wide open.

The excitement of recruiting new superstar team members, and learning how to manage those teams, building the right culture, and choosing the right kind of environment, can often distract business owners from noticing the rising the levels of complexity creeping into their business. And if you aren’t paying attention, it can suddenly become difficult to maintain.

In this blog, I highlight a formula that keeps your optics clear, so you can be totally aware of exactly how complex your business is becoming as it grows.

As you can see, even the smallest amount of growth comes with exponential increases in complexity. However, the first step in coping with this is being hyper-aware that it’s happening.

You can only tackle problems when you know the nature and magnitude of the issue. With this formula, you can become aware of the complexity you’re facing, and then we can take a look at how to ensure it doesn’t cripple your business.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to talk about today is a very common misunderstanding which business owners have when they are busy growing their businesses.

The Complexity Ceiling

Generally speaking, when the business is growing there is an increase in the team’s size. And with that increase in team size the complexity increases. And what I have seen very commonly is that business owners hit their complexity ceiling. They’re not able to go beyond a certain growth level, beyond a certain size of the team because there’s just so much to do.

For Example…

So let’s just take an example. A business starts and there’s only a business owner who is trying to manage everything and do everything and then the business starts doing well.

Another team member comes on board and now there are two team members. The business keeps on doing better such that there are now 4 team members and then say 10 and then 20 and then 40. Now the business owner is thinking that the business size has been doubling in terms of the team members, right? From 2 we have gone to 4 and then obviously from 4 to 10 (so more than double!) then 10 to 20 and so on and so forth.

The team is just doubling, right?

In their mind, it’s just doubling. And while the team size is doubling, it is actually really important for you to truly understand the scale of complexity. The complexity is not doubling. Actually, that complexity is growing exponentially and for you to really understand that, the formula that you need to focus on is:

n x (n – 1) / 2

And what “n” stands for is the number of team members, number of employees that you have in your business, including yourself.

Two-person team = 1 relationship, 20-person team…

OK so let me show you what I mean when I say that the complexity actually increases at an exponential level.

When there is, say, one person, then as you do the calculation the number of relationships which are there in the business is zero, right? It’s just a sole business owner/operator who is managing everything.

Then the size of the team doubles. As you can see, now there is one relationship – because there are two people.

Now let’s say the business is growing and now it has a total of 4 team members. So, 4 x 3 / 2 – you’re looking at 6 relationships. So although the business side has doubled, as you can see the complexity here has gone six times higher!

Quite a bit more than double complexity!

Now imagine the business size has actually gone up to 10, so more than doubled, and here what are we looking at? 10 x 9 / 2 = 45!

Do you see what I’m saying? All of a sudden here it is slightly more than double, but look at what’s happening here. It’s slightly more than seven times, that’s the complexity we ‘re talking about. And imagine if you have 20 team members, we’re really talking about 20 x 19 / 2 – we’re talking about 190 relationships which exist here.

Pay attention to this because it’s quite staggering as far as I’m concerned because when you’re thinking about the growth and saying, yeah, it’s another two team members, but actually the complexity is now six times. We think, “Oh yeah, it’s just another 6 team members,” but look at the number of relationships which are there and you could do this calculation for yourself and for your business.

What’s your team’s complexity?

How many team members do you have in your business, including yourself? Apply this formula and you will truly understand the level of complexity that you’re dealing with.

So, at the end of the day when you feel, “Oh my God there’s so much that I’m doing!” or, “There’s so much I’m trying to deal with,” it’s understandable.

But just understanding the level of complexity is the first step and doing something about it is the second one, which I will talk about later on in a different blog.

But my purpose today is to make you really understand the scale of complexity that you’re dealing with, because for every change to happen in your organization and your business, it has to start with the awareness of the right problem, at the right level.

Need to break through your complexity ceiling?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt is right at the point of bringing on new team members and realising this relationship complexity that business coaching has helped our clients. We can give you systems and tools that will smooth your growth to the next level and ensure you sustain that level.

Book a free sit-down with us. We will find out a bit about your business beforehand, and then at our meeting show you the kinds of strategies we use to help businesses like yours grow.


Top of Google But No Leads

It’s a proud moment when you do a Google search for your industry term and see your website at the top of the search results. However, what do you do when you are seeing that, but it’s not resulting in actual leads?

During one of our group coaching calls, one of our clients asked us that very question, “We at the top of Google for our industry, but we don’t seem to be getting leads. What am I doing wrong?” It was a great question, and I feel like the initial answer to this issue is important for all business owners to think about.

You see, my initial answer to this problem is not to immediately tackle the question, “How do I get more leads from SEO and my google ranking?” Instead, the first answer is actually a process to follow whenever you are attempting to tackle just about any issue in your business…

First, Step Back And Identify The Problem

In the 10 years that I have been coaching businesses, I have found that it is very common that business owners want to straight-away dive into the immediate issue at hand. “How do I deal with this? What process or template can I use to fix this problem now?”

I, therefore, remind them to stop, step back and first and make sure they are actually solving the right problem before implementing solutions. Diagnose the real issue, and then you can fix it with much greater precision and in a much more timely fashion.

To do this, you need to ask yourself different questions that will dig a bit deeper into the issue and get to the core of the problem. You then separate out the symptom from the problem so you don’t waste time trying a range of solutions to the symptom and instead, solve the actual problem.

Let’s take this particular issue, and run through the process that would be needed to clarify the real problem of not getting leads from your SEO efforts.

Question 1: What are you actually on “top of Google” for?

Talking about being on the “top of Google” actually cannot be accurate – or, at least, it’s incomplete. You don’t just win Google – you get the top of Google for particular keywords.

So before going any further, what keywords are you actually on top of Google for?

Because this informs the next question….

Question 2: Are you actually getting any traffic from your Google listings?

You need to look at your Google Analytics to see exactly how much of your traffic to the website has come from Google. It’s called “Organic Traffic” in analytics.

If you find that your organic traffic is giving you around 300 sessions per month, then the problem you have is a lead problem – you aren’t getting the leads you need. And that’s probably because your keywords aren’t that great!

Symptom: You are ranking high for a few keywords, but the organic traffic to your website is low.

Problem: The keywords you are ranking for are not actually good keywords to rank for.

Solution: Go back to the Search Engine Optimisation drawing board. You need to have more robust keyword research to identify a good balance of keywords to target that have good traffic but are not too difficult to rank for. The least you should be doing is using Google’s free keyword planner to identify good, high-volume top-level keywords to target.

If upon researching the keywords, you find that you actually are, indeed, ranking highly on good keywords then there’s a secondary problem that may result in the lack of traffic…

Symptom: You are ranking highly on good keywords, but no one is clicking on your website.

Problem: Your listings on the website are not attracting people to click.

Solution: Just because the algorithm believes that you match the keywords, doesn’t mean the users do. If your meta title tags and meta description tags are not optimised to “sell the click” (these two things are what makes up your listing in the search engine results) then despite your rankings, your audience won’t pick it up. Optimise these to encourage people to click through and find out more about you. This issue is pretty rare since the algorithm actually takes user behaviour into some account when ranking your pages – so if they aren’t clicking, then your top rank is going to drop pretty fast.

However, if you find that your Google Analytics shows that your website is actually getting a lot of traffic to your website, then the next important question will guide your decision making…

Question 3: What happens after they click and come to your website?

You see, if you are getting the clicks to your website, but no one is continuing down your marketing and sales funnels, then you have a different problem – a conversion problem.

In Google Analytics, you can segment the organic traffic out and find out exactly how they behave on your website. So not only will you get hard numbers on how much traffic you have gotten, but you will be able to find out useful information about that traffic.

There are two main factors that you can look at to work out what your best solution is. The first is that people are bouncing off from your website.

Symptom: You have traffic, but the bounce rate of the organic traffic is very high.

Problem: The page is either not relevant to what you are being ranked for, or your users don’t know what to do when they land on your page.

Solution: You need to take a harder look at the pages where you are seeing these high bounce rates and consider factors that might be sending people away. Is the page too long? Is there enough enticing information above the fold? Is there a good video? Does the page communicate the benefits/pain points/proof properly? Edit the page with more calls to action and make it more engaging.

The other issue you might encounter is that while you’re getting that initial traffic, no one is coming back to you.

Symptom: You have lots of organic traffic, and not very much returning traffic overall.

Problem: People are visiting your site, but your offering isn’t strong enough to get them to buy or come back.

Solution: You need to get them to come back to you, and you need to see what you are competing with. Getting them to come back to you could involve using remarketing to remind them that you exist, or it could involve ensuring you have a way of capturing details so you can message them about it again later. (Remember to get permission to send them marketing emails as per GDPR regulations!)

To see what you are competing with, you should look at who else is ranking for your top keywords, and see what they are doing on their websites. You can also use tools like SpyFu, SEM Rush and KeywordSpy to get some idea of what your competitors are doing on Google.

So you can see here that rather than just plunging in head-first into what looked like the big problem, taking a step back and reviewing exactly what the problem is could save a lot of time, and ensure that you are working on the right things.

Most of the time, in business, it’s not about finding the right answer but finding the right questions.

Before looking for the answer, make sure you are solving the problem, not the symptom.

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Best Business Books to Read: The Road Less Stupid

When I read this book, I actually had to refer lots of our clients to read certain chapters of it. There are many nuggets of wisdom in this book for business owners at any stage in their business.

best-business-books-to-read-road-less-stupid-compressor

The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham is not a “get rich quick” book – in fact, it’s the opposite. It helps spell out the work that is required for building financial success – but advises on how you can avoid making stupid mistakes and avoid the “dumb tax”.

Whether you feel like your business is coasting and want to stimulate growth, want to run better team meetings, would like to manage your time better, or would simply like to be a become a better business leader, there’s something to learn from this book.

You don’t need to read it cover to cover – each chapter is written in such a way so that at any point in your business when you are being challenged in a certain area, flick to that chapter and upskill yourself.

If you find yourself reading this and realising a coach could help with keeping you accountable for the things you want to change in your business, then you know where to find us.

Join the Round-Table Discussion

At the Mastermind I bring together a few hand-picked businesses to discuss practical strategies that are guaranteed to bring growth. Apply, fill out the questionnaire, and then I will see if you fit into the next group.

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