Sometimes when you’re accurate and you tell people an accurate answer, they have trouble with the way it sounds and they push back. If you say things like, “Generally this is what people do.” The reaction might be, “No, that’s not what I do.” So, how do you get people to accept information? What you do is build in cushion words. Cushion words are words that allow some degree of flexibility so people will be less defensive. So instead of saying, “This is what people do,” you would say, “Often, this is what people seem to do.” If you put the seem to, appears that , etc.., in there, people will accept the information with a lot less resistance and you are going to get your point across. So, put some cushion words in there and it will tend to improve.
Most of the time people are very frustrated because they think that customer service stinks. Part of the reason it stinks is because people are unhappy and the customer service provider doesn’t appear to care. So, therefore, if you are frustrated as a customer you really want two things: first, you want someone to care and give you a sense of understanding that they get it and you want the problem solved. Therefore, if you are in customer service, my recommendation is when you are dealing with the public, try to find out what is going on with them. And if they are frustrated, you can really appreciate why they’re frustrated if you get into their shoes. You can say, “I can certainly see why you are frustrated,” at which point you will calm down their wrath. So show more empathy, it really works!
Listening is so essential in marriages, between supervisors and supervisees, and between customer service reps and the market. Very often surveys point to the fact that people really fail to listen. What we need to do is spend more time listening. The way you do it is you listen to what people are saying to you and then you play back what they said, particularly when it is important. So somebody says something and you say, “Let me see if I understand what you are saying, what you are saying to me is… this or that.” When you play back to the person what you thought they said, particularly in the beginning of important conversations you are much more likely to get on track and people will get a lot less defensive.
Sometimes people will make you feel guilty to try to get what they want. Somebody might say, “If you really cared about me you would be here this weekend.” Well, you ever notice that you feel guilty and you are likely to cave in and do their bidding? So how do you overcome that? What you do is divide up the message, after they say it. So, if they say, “If you really cared about me you would be here this weekend.” What you say is, “What are we talking about, how much I care about you or are we talking about the fact that you want me here this weekend? “ When you do it that way, the person is likely to get immobilized at which point you can actually solve the problem without feeling guilty. The key is to off-load the guilt to get to the real point so you can be less hostage to feeling so bad.
Often, people speak in dis-jointed thoughts and sentences. What that means is they start an idea, they stop it in the middle, they get anxious then they start another idea stop that in the middle and keep going. Very often it goes something like this, “people talk about, well, actually, they talk about a lot of things, well, it really doesn’t matter. Well, you know. Okay, this is what I am talking about…” When people do that, it is very, very hard to follow them. You might do that. So, what do you do instead? Well, you realize that sometimes your mind is ready for the information sooner than your mouth can get to it. So what do you do? You slow down. You simply complete the thought before you start another one. If you slow down and concentrate on what you are saying, you are much more likely to get complete thoughts and people will have an easier time following you.
Do you ever notice the way people very often forecast failure. They will say things like, “this may be a stupid question” or “you probably won’t like this” or “this may sound kind of dumb.” Do you ever notice that people do that? You might do that. You might actually advertise or forecast failure. You may actually encourage people to think that your question is about to be stupid. Do you ever notice when you do that, you say, “this may be a stupid question” and people think, yep, right on schedule, a stupid question. So what do you do instead? What you do is you actually forecast success. You say, “This may be interesting” or “this may be worth considering” or “I encourage you to consider this.” If you forecast success instead of failure you will get by far better results.