I was conducting one of my Customer Service Seminars last week in Florida, when an interesting discussion began after I asked:
“How do you feel when the first call you handle in the morning is filled with conflict?"
Instantly, a very experienced rep blurted out: “It’s going to be a BAD DAY!"
Others endorsed this sentiment, without hesitation.
It’s only natural to infer that “They must be angry today!" if we’ve been greeted with hostility, right out of the gate. And if two or more angry customers gang up on us, it can feel devastating.
But what we’re succumbing to is bad logic and debilitating self-hypnosis.
By generalizing that other tough customers are waiting in the wings, just panting at the chance to jump on us, we can end up creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Think of it this way.
Imagine having to walk down a long corridor with lots of doors, placed one after another. Your task is to open each door, in order.
After opening the first, a cream pie is thrown in your face. It’s a shock, and you have to take a minute to recover.
You tentatively walk to the next door, open it slowly, and another pie is hurled at you with the same result. But now, you’re angry.
Still, you have to keep opening doors, because it’s your job, so on you go, at a snail’s pace to the third, but this time, just as you open the door, you duck.
The pies stop, but you’re so uptight and rattled from the prior doors that you call out into the darkness, “Hey, throw the pie, already! I dare you!"
Before long you get so pugnacious that people who never thought of hurling anything at you consider doing just that.
It’s called being DEFENSIVE, that state of mind where we perceive almost everyone, or everything somebody says or does as personally attacking us. And it’s easy fall into the trap of armoring ourselves when our first interaction is negative, or when we are involved in one bitter encounter after another.
Adding to our discomfort is the suspicion that somehow we or our companies must be at fault. We wonder, what have we done to deserve this?
The answer could be “nothing at all, " until we start radiating our own negativity.
The problem with defensiveness is that it happens in cycles. Like Dracula, hostile people bite us and then we’re infected, and we are driven to bite someone else, and before long the circle of the “undead" grows larger and larger.
Unfortunately, wearing garlic won’t stop this cycle, but catching yourself when you start succumbing to the dark side, will.
Tell yourself, “This was only one bad call, and the next one will be better" and “No matter how much venom that call injected, I refuse to pass it on!"
Then take a deep cleansing breath, and appreciate that you’ve just rejoined the ranks of the living!
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 850 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered “The Gold Standard"-the foremost expert in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org .