When was your last nightmare phone call with customer service?
You started out the call to address an incorrect charge on your cable bill or to negotiate your service contract. Next thing you know the conversation has changed into a screaming match that has gone nowhere.
You’re amped up before you even place the call, and so are the call-center employees. They’re not excited to be yelled at for a system that’s out of their hands and you aren’t excited to deal with the system either. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. But there’s one surefire way to smooth out the conversation and works for both ends.
This is no different than any business interaction. Whether it’s the cable company or a high-stakes sales negotiation, you run the risk of escalating a situation. If that interaction levels up to an argument, you can kiss that sale/client/cable deal goodbye – not to mention your mood.
But sometimes, you can’t avoid a high-stakes interaction, and you can’t avoid the fight-or-flight feelings that accompany it. So how do you keep the conversation manageable, and save money, time, and relationships? It all comes down to making the other person feel heard.
You’ve probably heard of my Words That Work communication strategy. It’s 3 rules and 3 steps which have completely leveled up my business (read: 34% revenue increase in the first year alone). The very first step – and maybe the most important one – in that strategy is validation.
It’s Not About the Nail is a video I always show during my trainings, because it illustrates my point so perfectly. We have this checklist in our mind, and we can’t move on until validation has been checked off that list. As soon as you feel like you’ve been heard, the conversation can move to a better place.
That’s why, no matter the situation, your first move should always be validation. You can validate in any circumstance, positive or negative. Here are some examples:
I can understand why that would frustrate you.
Thank you for explaining that to me.
I’m so glad you told me that.
Whether you’re trying to clinch that sale, talking down a customer who had a bad experience, or just calling to pay your phone bill, validation can help de-escalate the situation every time. I’ve created a worksheet to help you come up with a workable solution, so download that right here.
PS: Validation is step 1 in my Words That Work strategy, which reduced turnover and complaints while improving reputation and raising the bottom line.
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