In past articles, we’ve looked at words and attitudes we can take that will almost immediately give us the edge in bringing a potential conflict to a mutually beneficial, win/win solution. From a pleasant, sincere smile to, what I call, “apologizing in advance” when having to take someone away from what they’re used to doing, to many things in between.
Then there is the very opposite. Phrases and attitudes that will take a “negative-leaning” situation and totally accelerate it into – at best, a difficult situation or – at worst, an explosive one. In other words, they just make people bristle.
Here’s just one example of something…not to do.
Several years ago I was in a car driven by a friend of mine who had just moved down to Florida from Massachusetts. After stopping at a four-way stop sign he did something contrary to what he was supposed to have done; although I no longer even remember what it was. It must have been somewhat significant, however, because the police officer who witnessed it turned on the “flashing blues”, sounded his siren, and pulled us over.
The officer was very polite and professional and told my surprised friend what he did. My friend responded by saying, “That’s not the law in Massachusetts.”
Okay, here’s a quiz. How would you guess the officer responded?:
A. “Oh, my fault then. I didn’t realize you’re from Massachusetts. Had I known that, I never would have had the audacity to stop you for doing something illegal here in Florida.”
B. “Well, everyone knows Massachusetts pretty much sets the standard for the way things are done everywhere else in the country, especially down here in Florida. Excuse me. Please, go ahead and drive along, and I sincerely apologize for bothering you.”
C. “This isn’t Massachusetts.” And then writes up ticket.
Of course, you guessed it. Amazingly enough, my buddy was flabbergasted. Now, not saying something like the above probably seems fairly obvious. But, you know, it’s interesting how often I’ll hear someone begin a conversation in such a way that’s almost guaranteed to upset the person who they, for one reason or another, want or need to win over.
We’ve discussed in this column before how it is up to us – the positive persuader – to set the tone…the Matrix, if you will, as to how the transaction is going to proceed.
If we begin on the wrong foot, by unnecessarily upsetting the other person, it isn’t that we can’t still succeed; it’ll just be a lot more difficult. And why make dealing with a potentially difficult person any more difficult than need be?
Instead, ask yourself what you can do at this very moment to set the person at ease and make them as receptive to you and your message as possible.
With all this in mind, are there any bristle words or phrases, or their opposites, that you’d like to share and from which we can all learn and benefit?
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This serves as an excellent reminder to us all. Keeping this in mind when your serving a customer will put you miles ahead. All to often today when you approach a service counter, the clerk may or may not even acknowledge that you are there. However, if they do acknowledge you, you get a “Do you need something?” This opening phrase most definitely sets the tone for the transaction that is about to occur. Rather a nice simple, “Hello, how may I help you?”
Thanks for all you do Bob!
I’ve recently been in ‘retail sales’ again due to my spouse being out of work for the last year, and quite often have customer’s come in who know more about some of the items I’m selling than I do. Instead of being ‘bristly’ about it and ‘pretending to know more than they do’….I’m pretty up front. I thank them for teaching me something I didn’t know and that I will definitely pass that on to the next person I talk to! After all…isn’t this is how WE LEARN and grow too!
Thank you officer, I was concerned that the laws in this state were different than Massachusetts where I come from. I wasn’t aware that what I had done was illegal, are there any other laws which I might be unaware of that differ here in Florida?
On a side note, Showing people respect is what I have assumed is the best way to earn their trust. However in some cases, I find backing down, or retracting my stance, can lead people to force their authority on me.
Another bristle phrase: As soon as someone says, “With all due respect…” you’re already bristling because you know what’s coming next is disagreement.
I have to comment because my significant other serves as a police officer. I can’t tell you how many times he’s told me about someone he’s pulled over (there’s always a good reason or he wouldn’t pull them over) and he’s either let go with a warning because they were polite and told the truth (he’s always shocked when that happens) or who he’s cited for not just one thing, but multiple items because they were defiant, rude, or disrespectful. He doesn’t LIKE giving tickets, but it’s his job to keep us all safe by monitoring behavior. Same applies when he shows up in court. The officer always has the option to recommend reducing the fines, going to traffic school, etc but he makes notes and will tell the judge if he doesn’t think that the person would benefit from reduced fines or education because they were unrepentant.
Being polite just makes the world a more pleasant place, even when dealing with unpleasant circumstances.
Working in a hospital, I’ll tell you I have observed over and over this mistake. When an employee says “You’ll HAVE TO…” It really gets under people’s skin. We know customers don’t have to do anything.
Awesome feedback, thoughts and suggestions. Thank you. Much appreciated!!
Good Morning! When living in Georgia for 13 years I had a very dear friend that often would say…”That must be a Northern thing”…(I’m from Chicago) every time something was done differently than she was used to (Decorating, cooking etc.) After hearing this numerous times I said one day to something…”Oh, that must be a Southern thing”. I had the sweetest smile and softest voice I could muster when I said it. She began to laugh as she then realizing how it came across. From that point on it was a Great Joke between us and we said said it fondly to each other not ever taken it the wrong way…but I know she nor I ever said it to anyone else.
When an officer pulled my mom over, she complained that she was just following 5 other cars. He said, “Lady, I’m no octopus!”
She said, “No, but you’re a hairy ape.”
Ticket or no ticket. Your call….