Dec 03 2015

How to get what you want this December

Published by at 5:30 AM under Musings


Yesterday, I called customer service to correct an order. The representadreamstime_m_46093759tive was not very helpful. In fact, she challenged my integrity, which, I admit, ticked me off! It’s easy to snap back with someone like that, and sometimes that is exactly what’s needed. But research at USC has shown that in more complex negotiations (which was certainly my situation the other day when I tried to talk to her about an item that had not yet reached my house!) the most effective behavior is to meet dominance with deference.  According to Webster, deference is defined as “a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something.”  This allows you to be more relational in your dealings. Deferring to someone does not mean you have to be submissive to them, and you can do it without sacrificing or ignoring your needs.

This holiday season when you find that a salesperson or customer service representative is ready to pick a fight with you, try a little relationship building before you return the favor of a sarcastic remark. Here’s how:

  1. Let their nastiness be a signal that they are having a difficult day and empathize with them. You can be pretty sure they don’t get paid the big bucks to deal with disgruntled people. Once they seem to have settled down a bit, move ahead with discussing what you need.
  2. Emotions are up so acknowledge them. People trained to negotiate in very tough situations have learned that giving feelings a name will often diffuse the situation enough to get people to back down. An example is, “It seems like you are getting angry and frustrated.”
  3. Everyone just wants to be heard. Repeat back what they’ve said to you, without the nasty references to your intelligence, as a way of letting them know you are listening. Then listen some more. Ask open-ended questions to clarify, and paraphrase their answers.

For more on the topic of the holidays, please check out my holiday recording on Amazon, Christmas Caravan,  and my post, Improve Your Voice Over the Holidays.

For more on how to have successful conversations, please see my post 3 Essential Ingredients of Meaningful Conversations.

One of my favorite resources for interpersonal communication is The Seven Challenges Workbook. It’s by Dennis Rivers, and is free as a pdf.

© Subbotina | – Christmas Sales. Surprised Woman Photo

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