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How to stay cool, calm and collected, even in the face of unexpected chaos!

The mark of an excellent receptionist is having a cool, calm and collected demeanor even in the face of unexpected chaos – acting like everything is going exactly to plan even when there are clients eating the wrong catering, the phone lines are down, and the CEO has decided today is a good day to bring their huge dog to work and leave it at reception! Often an overlooked skill when compared alongside technical aptitudes such as booking systems and switchboards, to be “unflusterable” takes practice, the right mentality and a good handle on stress. Below are three tips to better handle the stressful days at reception:

Start your day right!

Being front of house you need to give the impression that you enjoy your job and enjoy interacting with the many people who pass your desk every day (I hope this is a given!). This means turning up to work prepared and leaving personal issues that will affect your demeanor at home. Make sure you eat breakfast, starting your day with some sustenance will make every situation easier to deal with. With your brain fueled you’ll be quicker to make decisions and prioritise workload; your memory will be sharp, and you won’t turn into a hangry mess! Arrive at work earlier than your start time to make sure your presentation is immaculate. Always bring your makeup/grooming bag with you and carry an extra pair of tights. Showing up to the desk unrushed, and ready to work with a smile will set a positive tone for your day.

Stay organised!

Most, if not all, disasters at reception can be avoided if you’re organised. Ensuring you’re aware of the upcoming meetings, the clients attending, catering ordered, and any foreseeable issues that may arise throughout the day is a good foundation to begin with. Preplanning is an excellent way to make use of down time. A great example would be to compile a database of all the regular clients and their catering preferences/dietary requirements. For example client X prefers to drink loose leaf green tea from a tea pot. Rather than receiving this request as the client walks into the meeting room you’re now able to use the information you’ve been previously given to act in advance.

Having already ordered the tea to the room you’ve impressed the client and avoided a situation that would have taken time to deal with. Always being a step ahead will ensure that you have the time to deal with the unforeseeable situations when they arise. Another tip is to save generic emails such as announcing a guest arrival as a signature. This ensures that your email tone is consistent regardless of how busy you are, spelling mistakes are avoided and you’re saving time by not constantly typing out the same emails. Being organised saves time and reduces the chance of things going pear shaped.

Recharge your batteries!

Being the face of a company and creating welcoming and memorable first impressions, when you’re not feeling 100% or the client is being rude, can be difficult and draining. Ensure you use your break times away from the desk efficiently to recharge your batteries. Take a walk outside at lunchtime to get the body moving and (if you’re lucky) get some sun! Ensure you eat a wholesome lunch and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you’re able to, use the task of checking meeting rooms as an opportunity to stand up and take a walk every hour or so. Make use of your company’s great benefits and join a gym at a subsidised rate, enjoy the free fruit provided to staff, and form friendships at the social activities. Taking responsibility for your happiness and health at work will have a positive impact on your attitude and performance in times of stress.

Written by Gemma, FOH Manager of a Corporate Law Firm, London.

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