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6 Techniques to Aid in Difficult Communications

Leadership 1Effective leaders are known for being excellent communicators. Effective communicators also know how to deal with difficult situations when dealing with clients. If you struggle in this arena: Here are some ideas of what to do.

1) Avoid “Negatives.” Negative talk encourages arguments, counter attacks, and futile attempts to solve your problems. It also creates a negative impression. For example, when you say, “I can’t,” you appear helpless and ineffective. Instead, talk about what you can do and what you would like to happen. Keep your cool in the situation because the minute you become negative the other person has won.

2) Be creative when dealing with impossible requests:

  • Acknowledge the request
  • Empathize with the other person’s feelings,
  • Verbalize the empathy by saying, “I wish I could fix it”
  • Suggest a reasonable alternative

For example, imagine that you work at a resort and it is raining. A guest walks up to you carrying a golf bag, slams it against your desk, and shouts, “This place stinks! I spent thousands of dollars coming here and it’s raining.”

You respond by saying, “You’re right it’s raining. And I know how upsetting it must feel to travel this far and be stuck inside. I wish I could make it stop. In the meantime, you may want to visit our indoor putting center. Our golf pro is offering instructions this afternoon.”

3) Seek collaboration when dealing with difficult requests by:

  • Affirming your willingness to help
  • Asking the other person to help you plan a solution

For example, if your boss asks you to start another project, you could say, “I understand you want me to start a new project. And right now I’m working on another project. To help me set my priorities, I wonder which one you want me to finish first.”

4) Be flexible, when possible, offer choices that show the consequences of different options. This allows the other person to choose both the process and its impact.

For example, you can say, “That’s a great idea. And there are different ways I can meet your request. We can use our existing supplies, which are free, or we can buy custom materials, which will cost $500. Which option would you prefer?”

5) Seek a joint solution by asking the other person to describe a fair settlement. You can say, “What do you want?” or “What would you consider a fair solution to this?” or “What would make you happy?” This method requires that you remain focused on any limitations your options may have for you or your client. My recommendation is to err on the side of satisfying the client.

6) A smile significantly affects how you sound. Even on the phone. It also makes you more approachable. When you frown, other people hear anxiety, caution, fear, and rejection. A smile (or at least a pleasant expression) encourages open communication. Don’t be afraid to be friendly. However, avoid laughing at a situation because your client may not see the humor.

In summary: How you apply these techniques must be consistent with your values and personality because anything other than a match will come across as phony or untrustworthy. Be authentic! Focus on your client, not on your needs in these situations and it will provide great benefits for future business. We can help your people change their approach through group coaching, check out http://transformativeleadership.us.