Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Be careful with that selling #touch - Topography of social touching

TV cameras caught UK Prime Minister David Cameron employing a most personal touch, in of all environments, a state banquet held in honour of China’s President Xi last week. 

The Prime Minister was filmed giving Hugo Swire MP a playful pat on the bottom at the lavish Buckingham Palace occasion.

Mr Cameron walked up behind Foreign Office minister, Hugo Swire, a fellow Old Etonian, and reached out to touch his backside to grab his attention. Mr Swire then turned round to embrace Mr Cameron, and the pair walked off in conversation together.

 A tweet of the incident by Chris Ship went 'viral'. 

However I would imagine that the Prime behaviour Minister's  would not have surprised those researchers of  ' the topography of social touching' . Oxford University teamed up with Finland’s Aalto University to ask more than 1368 men and women from five countries - the UK, Finland, Denmark, Russia and Italy - to colour areas on diagrams of the human body  to depict where they would allow particular people to touch, ranging from their partner to a stranger.

The Touch Map Research as covered
 by the Daily Mail Newspaper 
The Research leader said ‘It is the relationship rather than familiarity that matters. A friend we haven’t seen for some time will still be able to touch areas where an acquaintance we see every day would not.”  ( ergo Mr Cameron and Mr Swire see above)

Professor Robin Dunbar, who led the study, said while a kiss on first meeting was now considered socially acceptable, people will often adopt an "arm hold" simultaneously to make the whole ordeal less awkward.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, also shows a distinct difference between men and women and where a person finds a particular place on their body "acceptable" or "inappropriate" to be touched.

Women are generally more comfortable being touched than men, but find it inappropriate to be touched intimately by anyone other than their partner or mother.

Topography of social touching depends on emotional bonds between humans
Surprisingly perhaps, the study found that women are more happy to be touched, and by a wider range of people, than men.
 Russians are more comfortable with being touched than Italians (although no one was quite as happy to be touched as the Finns !).

The researchers said: "These body regions formed relationship-specific maps in which the total area was directly related to the strength of the emotional bond between the participant and the touching person.

Cultural influences were minor.

 We suggest that these relation-specific bodily patterns of social touch constitute an important mechanism supporting the maintenance of human social bonds "

The researchers concluded the bodily area others are allowed to touch  represent the strength of the relationship-specific emotional bond.

"We propose that the spatial patterns of human social touch reflect an important mechanism supporting the maintenance of social bonds."

‘It is the relationship rather than familiarity that matters. A friend we haven’t seen for some time will still be able to touch areas where an acquaintance we see every day would not.     

 ‘Touch is universal. While culture does modulate how we experience it, generally we all respond to touching in the same ways.'

 "Even in an era of mobile communications and social media, touch is still important for establishing and maintaining the bonds between people.!"

Aalto University researcher Julia Suvilehto suggested the results of the study (the largest of its kind ever attempted) showed touch was “an important means of maintaining social relationships.

“The greater the pleasure caused by touching a specific area of the body, the more selectively we allow others to touch it.”

It's even gone  feely-touchy on  BBC Radio 4's
 Today Programme !

The famously bald Revd. Dr. Giles Fraser was in the Radio 4 Today studio ready to broadcast his “Thought for the day “ contribution this morning.

Another guest of the programme present in the studio, was the Conservative MP David Davis. Mr. Davis was  there to comment on the House of Lords who the previous night had voted to delay tax credit cuts and to compensate those affected in full.

 David Davis and Giles Fraser clearly know each other.

As the news item on the 'Touch Map Research' story was being read out, Mr Davis apparently patted the iconic pate of the parish priest (of St Mary's, Newington, near the Elephant and Castle, London). There was much giggling in the studio amongst the guests and Today team..

Later Giles Fraser tweeted  jokingly 

“That's the first time I have ever been felt up by a Tory MP live on the Today programme. @DavidDavisMP @BBCr4today”

Related Links

Body language in the Business Context

Topography of social touching depends on emotional bonds between humans

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Clocks go back to GMT Good or Bad for selling ?

Monday Morning Farnham Town Hall Clock not yet adjusted
( Ignore the yellow date and time on photo,
I have not yet found out how to correct the time on my
new Vivitar vivi cam S126
As soon as President Xi Jinping of China departed the UK last Friday after his top drawer state visit ,we might spare a thought for the staff of the Royal Collection who will spend over 50 hours adjusting over 1000 clocks spread across the official residences of The Queen this weekend.

In more modest homes we are reminded by our Government to put our clocks back for Sunday When the clocks go back, the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Plaque in South Street
A son of Farnham, Surrey one William Willett introduced the idea of British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Saving Time,in 1907. 

After some commercial experience, he entered his father's building business, Willett Building Services.

Between them they created a reputation for "Willett built" quality houses in choice parts of London and the south, including Chelsea and Hove, including Derwent House. 

He lived most of his life in Chislehurst, Kent, where, it is said, after riding his horse in Petts Wood near his home early one summer morning and noticing how many blinds were still down, the idea for daylight saving time first occurred to him.

He wanted to prevent people from wasting valuable hours of light during summer mornings.

He published a pamphlet called 'The Waste of Daylight' in a bid to get people out of bed earlier by changing the UK nation’s clocks.

Willett proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September.

Willett then spent the rest of his life trying to convince people his scheme was a good one.

 Sadly, he died of the flu in 1915 at the age of 58; a year before Germany adopted his clock-changing plan on April 30, 1916 when the clocks were set forward at 11 pm.
Britain followed suit a month later on May 21.

Farnham Town Hall Clock
By then Britain and Germany had been fighting each other in the First World War (1914-18), 

Supporters for the proposal argued that such a scheme could reduce domestic coal consumption and increase the supplies available for manufacturing and the war effort and a system that could take pressure off the economy was worth giving a go.

The Summer Time Act of 1916 was quickly passed by Parliament and the first day of British Summer Time, 21 May 1916, was widely reported in the press.

The Home Office put out special posters telling people how to reset their clocks to GMT, and national newspapers also gave advice.

The idea was not a new one, however. In 1895 an entomologist in New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, came up with the idea to the Wellington Philosophical Society outlining a daylight saving scheme which was trialled successfully down-under in 1927.

Debates concerning Daylight saving continue to the present day. It can be traced back to standardised time which was introduced with the expansion of the railways in the 1840s.

Supporters of moving the clocks backwards and forwards argue that it saves energy, promotes outdoor leisure activity in the evening in summer, and is therefore good for physical and psychological health, reduces crime and is good for business.

Retailers much prefer the transition to DST than the transition to GMT. For them, having one less hour of sun in the evening translates into fewer people going shopping after work, which in turn means less business.


The Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents, RoSPA is pushing for the UK to adopt a Single/Double Summer Time (SDST) system, which would see the time move one hour ahead throughout the year. Under these plans, the UK would operate under GMT+1 in winter, and GMT+2 in the summer.

“A change to SDST would reduce CO2 pollution by at least 447,000 tonnes each year, increase working-day overlap with Europe and stock-markets in Asia, and allow an extended tourism season, boosting the sector by an estimated £3 billion. Not to mention the extra hours of daylight that we will all have to enjoy the outdoors.” 

Moving the clocks permanently forward by an hour would also bring the UK in line with Central European Time, which means Britain would work during the same business hours as other European cities.

My trusty Lightbox to fight off the SAD during the UK winter
My answers are inadequate
To those demanding day and date
And ever set a tiny shock
Through strangers asking what's o'clock;
Whose days are spent in whittling rhyme-
What's time to her, or she to Time?

-Dorothy Parker

Related Links

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

6 challenging customer types and how to handle them

Most of the time Customers are fine but sometimes they can become a touch animal like .
Like a Zoo keeper you need to deal with different temperaments in the zoo.

The bulldog, the grizzly bear, owl, the myna bird, the mouse, the sheep. the hyena.

1. The “Bulldog” (Persistent)
How to recognise : Painfully persistent, often asking the same question more than once to check you weren’t lying the first time.

How to deal with them : The bulldog needs reassurance that they know that what they are buying is right for them. Ideally, the way to overcome the bulldog is knowledge and patience. No matter how many times they ask the same question, offer the same polite response. If you don’t know the answer, don’t lie. Find out and ring them back.

2. The “Grizzly” (Rude)
How to recognise : Blatantly rude for no obvious reason! They have little or no manners and don’t care about your feelings whatsoever.

How to deal with them : Always remain calm. Follow complaints handling technique, and apologise for any problem they might have encountered. Don’t react angrily, because this will just worsen the situation further!

3. The “Owl” (Know-it-all)
How to recognise : Often very knowledgeable, and likes nothing more than to show that knowledge off, even if it means belittling you. The owl loves to be right.

How to deal with them : Don’t compete! Allow them to show off and even offer compliments and flattery to win them over. Never say or imply they are wrong; it will only upset them.

3. The Mynah bird ( talkative)
How to recognise : They can speak for England! Once they start, they’ll never stop and often ask you personal questions or talk about issues completely unrelated to their enquiry.

How to deal with them : You must aim to control the call. Use the customers name, steer them using questions, and paraphrase to get them back on track. Stay polite and avoid being rude or letting them know you are bored.

4. The “Mouse” (Quiet)
How to recognise : Customers with this personality type will often be very hard work! They offer the bare minimum responses to any questions asked, and engaging them in conversation is an uphill battle from the start.

How to deal with them : Ask open, probing questions (e.g. “what”, “when”, “how”, etc.) to force them into answering with more than one-word responses. Invite their opinions, but don’t be too pushy or they may become even less willing to talk.

5. The “Sheep” (Ignorant)
How to recognise : Doesn't know what they want or understand why they want it. Often, they will become flustered and upset if not dealt with properly.

How to deal with them : Again, ask open questions to clarify what they are looking for, and summarise key points to confirm that your understanding is correct. Listen carefully and be patient! Don’t make assumptions.

6. The “Hyena” (Obnoxious)
How to recognise : Easily upset and often very flippant and sarcastic at every opportunity. Unlike the “Grizzly”, they don’t need an excuse to get nasty – indeed they enjoy winding you up.

How to deal with them : Remain calm and professional at all times. Agree to disagree and give up, because their main objective is to upset you. Don’t let them upset you, simply pity why somebody would choose to be like this.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Selling a disincentive -It's in the bag 5p please - #Selling Bags to reduce their usage

This Monday is a rather special day for Selling in the English high street.

Buying and Selling tends to take place in a free-ish market environment. But today through an enforced selling price by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs , Selling is trying to be used to change commercial behaviour.

According to Keep Britain Tidy, 11.4% of places surveyed in England showed evidence of littered single-use plastic bags.

In a world concerned about plastic packaging waste , Business is being challenged to redesign, produce and sell its products. This requires us to re-think how we use and consume products, and re-define what is possible through re-use and recycling.

This new law is trying to change the behaviour of the buyer by stopping the seller offering free carrier bags.

The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 comes into force today 5th October.

The order requires sellers who employ more than 250 people to charge 5p for a "single use carrier bag" which is less than 70 microns (0.07mm) thick.

Though there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, such as for medicines, raw meat and razor blades,we're  having to pay for bags and it will be a major change for most English shoppers.

Offering free plastic bags has been a low-cost way to encourage custom for some years.

Former bag behaviour 'back in the day'

Before the era of the free plastic bag, customers brought their own shopping bags. There might be paper bags provided for some items, but people didn't expect to be furnished with bags as a matter of course.

There is a reference to a carrier bag in a 1907 catalogue from the department store " Army and Navy" .

 "The 'Sensible' carrier bag with strings is the only paper bag with a firm bottom, and capable of carrying wet fruit, pastry etc, without bursting the bag."
This Paper bag dates back to the 1960s
 Fruiterer and Greengrocer Hone's was founded in 1911

Current plastic bag for Hone's Customers 

Celloplast patented a "bag with handle of weldable plastic material" in the US in 1965.

 By the mid-1970s JC Penney and other American department stores, were using plastic bags for purchases, and the first polyethylene bags appeared in supermarkets across the country soon after.

By the 1980s the bags had reached British supermarkets and their use grew in use quickly. Marks and Spencer had a plastic carrier for clothes by 1973.

The free plastic bag rapidly became contentious. 

British supermarket shoppers used 8.5 billion free plastic bags in 2014, according to *Wrap, a recycling charity - though this was down from 2006, when figures were first collated, when more than 12 billion were used.

In England the average person goes through nearly 12 thin-gauge bags (made of plastic or paper) per month, while in Wales, where there has been a 5p charge per plastic bag since 2011, shoppers use just two bags per person per month. 

Before the introduction of the charge, they used 10. 

 Shoppers in Northern Island have seen a similar drop-off in bag use since they introduced a charge in April 2013, from nearly nine to fewer than two thin gauge bags used per person per month.

The reason is explained by some academics that when there is an economic disincentive involved, consumers tend not to use a product.

'It ain't necessarily so'

The introduction of the charge represents a change in approach towards shoppers, led by the government. Previously, the option to buy Bags for Life (at a small cost) was supposed to encourage virtue from the general public.

But  figures from *Wrap suggest that - with 439 million of these tougher bags issued in 2014 alone - they are still not "for Life".

So our supermarkets have been preparing for  today in different ways. Tesco has been offering shoppers free Bags for Life in the run-up to the changeover to try and ease the transition.

From the highest fashion boutique to the most humble pound shop, stores will have to charge customers expecting to carry home their purchases in plastic bags thinner than 70 microns thick with handles.

With 80% of clothes shoppers saying they use brand new carrier bags when buying items, and similarly high proportions at other shops, it will be a sea change for both sales staff and shoppers alike.

Pound shops could surely have a problem. They will have to ensure they have enough change for customers who now need to spend £5.05, rather than a flat £5, for a five-item shop with a bag that previously would have been free.

A survey conducted  by Wrap last year, 40% of respondents said that the charge would encourage them to use Bags for Life more often –

though 39% said that "it would make no difference" to their shopping behaviour.

 (This figure did include those who have already shunned plastic bags.)

 According to Professor Poortinga, a professor of environmental psychology at Cardiff University, whenever charges have been introduced, bag usage has dropped between 50 and 90%.

But the charge may be addressing the wrong issue, believes Sukhi Poonia of PAFA, the Packaging and Films Association. 

"We as an industry have put our hands up and said it's an issue - plastic bags are getting chucked into the sea. But our stance is that we're never going to get better behaviour until there's tougher enforcement on littering."

Related Links

Keep Britain Tidy