Starting With a Positive Intent Opens Dialogue

"When you tell people they are wrong or bad or mistaken, it's human nature to engage in self defense, either in the privacy of their own mind, or out loud. And yet, people do things wrong, they do behave badly, and they are often mistaken. How can you bring such things to a person's attention without setting in motion a defensive reaction? It's simple! Give them a good reason to hear what you have to say. Let's say you have gotten negative feedback from some customers about a particular service rep's behavior. If you just come out and tell the rep about the complaints, the rep may interpret your behavior as their daily dose of abuse, and proceed to argue with you or try to prove his or her innocence. Or, the rep may begin an internal dialogue of self-justification and not hear another word that you've said. On the other hand, if you begin by assuming the best, you could say: "I know you really care about giving great customer service because you care about our customers." It is highly unlikely that the rep would respond, "No, I try really hard to annoy and aggravate our customers because I really could care less." Instead, given the opportunity to identify with a positive intent, the rep is more likely to say, "Of course I do." That's your signal to state your own good intent, by saying, "And I would like to see you succeed in doing the best job that you can." You have now made it clear that your goal is to help. You then follow this up by saying, "To that effect, I have some feedback for you from a few customers that can help you, and I'd like you to take this feedback into consideration to improve your service efforts." From: The Art of Communication (c) 2007 Dr. Rick Kirschner PWW-019-004444 "