Are you letting your chimp run your B&B?
If you’ve attended one of my classroom courses, you’re probably familiar with your chimp. I try and remember to introduce attendees to their chimp early on day 1 of the course, as it’s a great analogy for explaining how you can feel as a B&B owner and how you deal with those feelings!
The B&B chimp is based on the book, The Chimp Paradox, by Professor Steve Peters. It’s a very interesting read and goes a long way to describing how the brain works, and how to deal with the emotions that aren’t really serving you.
Professor Peters uses the terms Computer, Human and Chimp to describe different parts of the brain. Very briefly, the human part is the rational part of the brain that works on facts whilst the chimp part is pure emotion.
So how does this apply to the average B&B owner? Imagine you’re running a B&B. You’ve put a considerable amount of time, effort and emotion into creating a wonderful experience for your guests. You’ve been welcoming some wonderful guests, who have all been telling you how great your B&B is and leaving you great reviews. Then it happens….
A new guest appears in your driveway with a face like thunder. You put on your best smile and say hello and they say “We’ve been driving round for your hours, your B&B is impossible to find. You should have sent an email with directions. Every other hotel I’ve ever stayed in has sent me an email”
Now you know you always send an email with directions. If you didn’t, your guests wouldn’t find you as the satnav code is for the whole village and you don’t have a B&B sign up.
“I’m sorry”, you say, knowing that email can easily go astray, “It must have gone into your SPAM/JUNK folder”
Then, here it comes, “You did NOT send me an email. I checked my SPAM/JUNK folders”
At this point your chimp starts trying to elbow your human out of the way and is jumping up and down “she’s calling you a liar”
The wise B&B owner at this point puts a hand of their stomach to calm themselves, smiles and says “I am sorry you didn’t receive it and had problems finding us. I’ll look into as soon as I’ve shown you to your room”
The problem is your chimp wants to be right and starts trying to explain about internet service providers and how they can reject emails so they never get to SPAM/junk folders. Your guest does not want to hear this. Then a verbal game of ping pong commences and escalates.
You finally show them to their room and leave, fuming. You go back to your PC, check your sent email and there it is. Your chimp really wants to print off the email and go back to the room, bang on the door and wave the printout in her face with a smug “see I was right and you were wrong”.
You do your best to treat them wonderfully over the next few days but nothing you do is going to win them over. They leave and give you a less then glowing review.
Another annoying aspect of the Chimp, is that it’s been scientifically proven that it is the dominant part of the brain overnight. This is why you lie awake at night worrying about stuff and, in the morning, things never seems to look so bad! So, after your altercation with your guest, your chimp has probably kept you awake for half the night, having a virtual argument with the guest.
As I’m writing this it’s August. Hopefully, most of the people who have been on my course and are already running a B&B, are in the middle of a busy season. The downside of a busy season is it can be both physically and emotionally draining. Your energy levels are low and you don’t have much reserve. When something does go wrong, it can be much more difficult to cope with calmly and rationally.
On the Private Facebook Group for past course attendees there are several posts a day written by people’s chimps!
I, myself, am in the middle of an 18 day stretch with no days off. I’m not sure how this happened. I usually try and block in a day off once week to recharge. After 15 years of running the B&B, I know how important it is, both for me and my guests, not to be running on empty as it gives free rein to my chimp.
I’m very lucky that nearly 80% of my guests this month have been repeat business. They’ve stayed before and know what to expect, so hopefully there will be no problems and if there are issues they’ll be fine! I did remember, 30 minutes after checking guests in earlier this week, that I’d left their kettle full of vinegar, as I was descaling it. Luckily they were repeat guests who I know fairly well and knew they were the type to laugh at it over breakfast.
So, how do you stop your chimp from running your B&B?
There’s lots of good advice in The Chimp Paradox book, but here are a few things I do.
Being aware that your chimp is taking over is an important first step.
I meditate daily and find that daily 10 minutes of meditation really helps me to detach myself from a situation and be aware of the situation. I can see when my chimp is taking over and do something about it.
If you’re someone who can get carried away in the moment then having some sort of visual reminder, like a rubber band on your wrist to ping, can help.
If you’re in a face to face situation with a customer, taking a deep breath and putting your hand on your stomach, is a good way to stop your chimp from diving in. If that doesn’t work then removing yourself from the situation, if possible, is probably the best way forward.
It’s best arguing with a customer if possible, even where you disagree with them. A “Let me go and look into and I’ll get back to asap” is a way of removing yourself from the situation.
If you’re not actually with the customer at the time, Professor Peters actually recommends you let your chimp out to play as this wears it out! This is where a friend in the business you can call or a secret facebook group like I have for past course attendees, can help you exercise your chimp in a safe place.
Do be very careful of social media, texts etc. though. I’ve seen B&B owners complain about guests on their public profiles. You never know who’s watching you!