Chris Croft's Personal Blog

June 23, 2014

Which communication method to use?

Which communication method to use?

Use the urgency and the importance of relationship building to choose the best method.
Consider moving up a level or two on the arrows.


Positive Attitude – why it’s so important

Filed under: Assertiveness, Careers, Happiness, Selling and Influencing — Tags: , , — chriscroft @ 2:56 pm

1 – Effect on you

a – What happens to you – if you expect bad things they tend to happen, and if you expect good things they tend to happen.  We attract what we envisage.  I don’t know why this is, but it’s definitely true.  People who are unlucky then expect to be unlucky again, and their expectations come true, and so they get into a loop.  Be in a good loop rather than a bad one!
b – How you interpret what happens – some people focus more on the bad things, and if you spend more time focussing on bad things (especially things you can’t do anything about, because they are already in the past, or are unavoidably coming up in the future) then you start to believe that your life is worse than it actually is.
Some people get really knocked sideways by the random bad cards that we all get dealt, and they allow those to ruin everything else.  “I can’t enjoy the party, I’m still fuming about that scratch on my iPhone / about what Fred said to me / about the parking at the party”.
Also – do you take the opportunities when they come up?  It is easy to fail to pick up on the good opportunities: “I could have gone to Australia but at the time I was too busy” etc.

2- Effect on others – and therefore you in the end

  • You’ll attract more positive people, because they tend to avoid negative people and gravitate towards similarly positive ones.
  • They’ll want to work with you – when people are choosing teams, or interviewing for jobs, they prefer positive people.
  • You’ll affect their attitude – whether in a positive or negative way – so you’ll get back what you give out.

3 – Is it annoying to be TOO positive?

Not if you don’t talk too much.  Quietly positive is the key.  Whether you are thinking positively or negatively it’s best to be a good listener and ask others about themselves.

4 – Can you change yourself?

Yes!  And surprisingly quickly!
I mentioned earlier that negative loops are self-perpetuating: thoughts lead to actions which lead to experiences which lead to beliefs which lead back to thoughts.
So the key is to break this loop by controlling your thoughts.  Start a game to never think or say anything negative.  Push those negative thoughts out with positive ones. Say to yourself “The party WILL be fun”.  “The Presentation WILL go really well.”
This feels rather odd at first but becomes a habit very quickly, and then it’s natural and requires no further effort – you have moved up to the positive level!
You might also want to think about the influences of others on you.  Negative people, negative reading (papers, magazines), negative TV programmes, these all drag you down, so it’s better to avoid these and select positive people and experiences so that you feel good from every interaction.
Onwards and upwards!

April 16, 2013

Managing Upwards

I would divide this into two parts: general good practice when dealing with bosses, and dealing with problem bosses.

First there’s communication style
– Ideally you would tailor your communication style so that they find you easy to deal with, perhaps even like you! Are they in a hurry and wanting a quick summary or are they a thoughtful, detail person?
– Make sure you don’t become high maintenance. Don’t take up too much of their time, don’t check everything with them before you do it (unless they want that!), don’t send them big long reports or emails to read, don’t phone them at times when they are busy or tired or thinking about something else.
– Don’t always come with bad news and problems

Then there’s influencing
a) what’s in it for them, what do they want or need? They have weaknesses too, if you think about it – they need to you help them and do things that aren’t totally in your job description, maybe do longer hours every now and then, they need you to stay motivated in order for you to be creative and work hard, they need to look good to their peers and superiors, they don’t know all the answers so they need your help, etc), and…
b) what style of influencing is best for them? This depends on the type of person they are – are they influenced by facts and logic or by emotions and excitement? Are they risk-averse or are they impulsive and brave?

As bosses become more difficult then the main principles of assertiveness also apply to bosses as well as anyone else – use the 4 step process which is to

1) Understand their situation and say that you do,
2) Say how you feel (worried about letting the side down, feeling demotivated because you don’t have enough effect on performance of the job, etc, so not whingeing or negative but still concerned and not completely happy – this is a powerful second step since they can’t ignore it), then
3) what you want to happen – this makes it easier for them since you are giving them a solution, and makes you look positive, and
4) asking them if they agree, can they see your point of view, is the request reasonable – this commits them to a solution, and enables you to find out if there is any resistance in order to be able to handle it if necessary.

But if your boss is really bad, (as in psychotic / psychopathic / damaged / sadistic / useless, etc, and there are lots of these about), then there are only three options:

train your boss to behave better, using the four step process described above (may take repetition and persistence!)
leave (there’s always another job out there, you have to believe you’re worth of it, and there’s no harm in looking. The times I’ve been pushed I’ve looked back and thought I should have jumped ages earlier! If I had just had the courage!
cease to care … and they should be done in that order – doing a job you don’t care about is the worst outcome! If this happens they’ve won and you’ve lost.

January 5, 2013

Megaphone Selling

Judging by The Apprentice, Alan Sugar’s idea of a “great sales person” seems to be someone pushy and loud, who has no shame when it comes to hassling passers by.

And I want to say “NO!”

The two most important qualities of a sales person are

a) being liked


b) being a good listener

and often the Apprentice “sales people” have neither.

Walking around the streets heckling people with a megaphone isn’t selling. Barging in to a customer’s office and ramming your proposition down their throat isn’t selling. Selling is getting to know your customers, understanding them, and based on a knowledge of their needs, giving them what they want. Or at least showing them how what you are offering can help them. Louder isn’t going to be better, and you can’t win arguments by being louder – listening is the only way to turn someone around.

And of course my two sales qualities are related, because being a good listener will make you more likely to be liked. The objective is to be liked by as many people as possible, because every customer who doesn’t like you is almost certainly a lost sale.


And by the way, on The Apprentice they don’t do their brainstorming correctly either – as soon as the first idea comes in they judge it, often negatively, so the creative people soon give up. Ideally they would collect as many ideas as possible, sparking off each other, recording everything good or bad, and then, after that, select the best one. And the manager should keep out of it rather than pushing their own pet idea.

There we are, that’s the end of my rant, I feel better now!

Onwards and upwards


PS Have a look at 45 minutes of good stuff from David Allen, the time management guru, for free on youtube –

July 19, 2012

Just out of guarantee

Filed under: Assertiveness, Customer Care, Selling and Influencing — chriscroft @ 6:26 pm

I sent out a tip about a problem I had with my Sony TV when it went wrong at 13 months and how Sony didn’t appear to care at all.

Here are some of the most useful replies I received:



Reference your problem with Sony.

I had a similar experience with LG. The on/off system collapsed just after the guarantee period.

Richer sounds – where I had bought it – said they could fix it but would charge shedloads. I quoted the Sale of Goods Act 1893 which requires all goods sold to be “of merchantable quality” and claimed that a £750 television which cannot last 14 months could not meet this requirement. I therefore insisted on its full replacement, free repair or a full refund. (I am not a solicitor, but all sorts of generalist law featured in my professional training.) They backed down, (possibly intimidated and fearful that I might actually be a lawyer who might sue them) and carried out a free repair for which they were going to charge over £200.

The moral of the story is that the product guarantee does not replace our legal rights and these can still be enforced.

Onwards and Upwards!


The CD/DVD drive on my Sony laptop packed up after 11 months and 1 week.

They were superb.
Arranged a courier, gave me a log number, I could watch it as it travelled around between their distribution and repair centres in europe and then it’s journey back to me and because I worked 20 miles away from home they did the collection and return from my office.

I got it back as good as new. All Free.


During the first phone call they said if I’d gone past the magic 12 months they charge 20 euros [i don’t know how i would have paid that!] to ‘open a case’ on their repair management system before they would even discuss it with me. Then I’d be into paid repairs.

Although it can take some time and durability on your part your could complain quoting the Sale of Goods act. It often depends on a very arbitrary subjective judgment and the individuals that deal with your case because it makes moral sense to guarantee an item for a reasonable period that you would expect it to be operational for and a TV isn’t designed to work for a year. Would they put that on their ads – “Sony, Good for a Year” ?

For a washing machine with high energy input and lots of moving parts twelve months might be a reasonable guarantee period but a modern TV should last for ‘years’ and a 12 month warranty is nonsense.

I bought my cheap ‘bedroom’ TVs from Tesco for around £100 – no problems with them after two years plus.

My lounge TV I bought from John Lewis where they offer local price matching and a free five year warranty.


Hello Chris

If you want to cause Sony grief, remind them of the two year mandatory warranty within the EU for faults present when the item was delivered.  The presumption is that a failure in two years means it was there when delivered
My favourite company Apple is in trouble over this in Italy.

Could be fun if you have the time to play!



Re the TV – just because its out of guarantee, doesn’t mean that the retailer  is absolved of all responsibility – there is an EU directive and also the sale of Goods Act which gives you rights for anything up to 6 years.  I’ve used the threat of small claims court in the past to “persuade” retailers to be reasonable – remember it’s the retailer, not the manufacturer you have the contractual relationship with….oh, and if you paid by credit card, the card issuer is also jointly responsible for the quality of goods/services supplied, provided they cost more than £100.

Have a look at

Kind regards,



Yup, and how are Sony doing these days? Not so good. Their failure to be even a player in the iPod / iPhone market is one of the most staggering failures by an incumbent in the history of industry. They invented the Walkman, owned “portable music”, had a great brand, made computers, were the world leader in consumer electronics and even owned a huge amount of content via their investment in movie and music studios. In comes a computer maker into their territory, and they miss the boat completely, despite having 100% of the ingredients needed for success. They were out-competed by Creative, a Singapore-based start-up, for Christ’s sake.
I have a theory about the Japanese. They develop a perfect plan on the assumption that everything will go right – and, because the plan is so good, it usually does. It is then a loss of face to develop the plan for what to do when that goes wrong. Response to customer complaints, and development of a Plan B in response to unexpected competition, both fall into this category. They just don’t think about calculated risk very well.

December 22, 2011

Faulty arguments

Filed under: News and Politics, Selling and Influencing — chriscroft @ 10:01 am

Interesting to see the arguments the press are using to defend their outrageous harassment of victims over the years:

– “newspapers have always done it” (doesn’t make it OK!)

– “it’s not as bad as it used to be” (doesn’t make it OK!)

– “celebs are stupid if they don’t realise what they’re getting into ” (this is only one up from “She got raped but what did she expect, wearing that short shirt?”) (doesn’t make it OK!)

I also heard: “Some celebs WANT the press attention” – maybe true, but doens’t make it OK to harrass ALL of them, and certainly not OK to harrass the unsuspecting members of the ordinary public who find themselves on the end of a press story and certainly don’t want the hassle.  It would be easy to have laws where you can give the press permission to camp outside your house if you really want that, or you can give the press permission to photograph you with long lenses through the windows of your home, but if no permission then its illegal.

So we await Leveson’s verdict, and I personally hope he really makes a difference this time.  Enough “self regulation” – it clearly doesn’t work.





July 8, 2011

The forgetting curve

Filed under: Managing People, Selling and Influencing — chriscroft @ 1:37 pm

There’s a thing called the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve which says that
within an hour you’ve forgotten half of what you’ve been told,
within a day two thirds has gone,
and within a month 80% has gone and there’s only 20% left.


The ramifications for presentations are therefore:

1 – Decide on one clear message and hammer away at that. If they just remember one thing, what do you want it to be? Design your whole talk around that message.

2 – If you can have a refresher straight afterwards and then again a week later then the retention is much better, and with two or three refreshers it nearly all goes into the long term memory. These could be done by talk part 2, a follow-up email, or in the case of training, by the line manager getting involved and having a meeting with the person straight away to ask “What did you learn? What will you do differently?” and then a few weeks later “How have you been getting on with you list of planned changes?” Line managers are really important in getting training to work and to be good value for money!

You can see here that even just three refreshers bring the long term retention up from 20% to 80% – a huge improvement!

3 – taking notes is a way of immediately doubling the number of times your brain sees the message, and then if you go through the notes afterwards and condense them, that’s your first refresher

4 – Another way to get a repeat in a fun way is to get whoever has been on a course to tell their colleagues all about it. And of course this means that the others get a (sort of) course for free; and the person on the course has to pay extra attention because they know that later they will have to regurgitate it.

The above apply to people giving talks or training sessions, people who are paying for training sessions / sending their people on training sessions or to talks, and to those who attend talks and training and want to gain as much from it.

Finally, if you’re delivering a talk and you want it to be remembered, there’s the excellent old chestnut which says that activities are much better than just being talked at – “If I am told it I forget, if I see it I remember, if I do it I understand”…

Onwards and upwards


March 26, 2011

Designing cars to look deliberately ugly?

I’d be interested to hear from anyone with a good theory about why Skodas don’t look as nice as Audis. Don’t get me wrong, Skodas are brilliant cars, especially for the price – the days of quality problems are long gone. But they don’t LOOK as good do they? Possible explanations why cars from the same company vary so much are:

a) Quality somehow shows through – better-made and better-functioning cars just will unavoidably be a nicer shape as well
b) The difference is in my head, I just can’t help being biased, and if Skodas did cost more than Audis I would find myself preferring the look of the Skoda
c) Audi pay their designers more because they have more money from the sale of the car. The Skoda designers just aren’t as skilled
d) it costs more to manufacture a better-looking car
e) Audi deliberately reduce the attractiveness of the Skodas so they don’t impinge on the sales of Audis (but can you imagine them saying “Design something ugly please” or “sorry, that car is too good looking, bin that design?) If this is really the case it can’t be much fun being a Skoda designer, when you KNOW you could do better but aren’t allowed to.

I find all of the above five hard to believe. Did I miss one?

I am told that although Skoda are part of the Audi group they are totally independent, Audi have no power over Skoda, so maybe e) can’t happen. But then, the other options aren’t very convincing…

thoughts anyone?


PS – am amusing discussion thread is going on at

November 15, 2010

My favourite 25 logos of all time

I wanted to do a top ten but was unable to condense lower than 25.
And let me know if I missed a great one!!











Collinson Tiles.jpg






















March 1, 2010

My huge collection of logos

Filed under: Lists, Random stuff - uncategorisable, Selling and Influencing — chriscroft @ 8:22 pm






G plus, coffee cups.pngG Plus – make coffee cups








crop advisors.jpg


crossrail train.jpg








Dep Mode again.jpg




GR logo 4.jpg


GR logo.jpg

GR logo 3.jpg

GR logo 2.jpg



day lewis.jpg








butterfly conservation.jpg


Cala homes logo_black.gif













brazier logo.jpg



CMC logo.pngcollinsons tiles.jpg


bruce.jpgbottom line.jpgbarrington_cover.gif


autism wessex.png











Hampshire Collgiate School.png

















hyde martlet.jpg





Ian Williams Logo.jpg
















kutting.jpgkelly logo.gif


katies cakes2.jpg


jet ski logo.jpg
















runners need.jpg


Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 17.12.58.pngsquare logo.JPGSt-John -Ambulance.JPG




woodburner logo.jpg

wedgwood_logo_2993.gifvouchercode.jpgvillage veg.jpgveolia.jpgunum-logo1.jpg








swiss, out of the box.pngSWBruce.jpgsplashlogo.gif




shanghai metro.jpegShanghai Metroseagate_11.jpgScreen Shot 2017-04-29 at 11.01.28.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-03 at 23.23.38.png

lg-logo.jpglogo - eight.jpg












Moroccan bank logo.JPGMoroccan bank




road ferry logo.jpg


rj laundry.jpg




phoenix lifts.jpg


PETA.jpgpearche group.jpgoutdoor.jpg










MTR-Corporation-logo.pngmorrish logo good.jpgmaxwell.jpg








logo probation service.jpg


logo due dil.jpg


logo china.gif




logo deevil.png




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