Flicking through the channels on TV these days there are no end of reality TV shows following people around doing their jobs – parking attendants, customs officers, environmental health officers, airline staff, police – the list seems endless. Mind-numbing as these programmes can be, they do all share one thing in common; at some point the person doing the job has a member of the public shouting at them! If you’ve ever been faced with a customer who wants to complain at the top of their voice to you, I’m sure you’ve encountered how difficult it can be to calm them down, and get them speak to you at a reasonable volume. So what’s the secret of the people who get it right on these programmes?
Well, what works for many on our conflict management training courses is taking the three-step approach of: (1) Empathise (2) Demonstrate understanding (3) Make a request & sell it to them. Here’s how it works….
(1) Empathise: People get angry for a reason – and at that moment in time, they honestly think they are justified. So even if you know better, telling them they shouldn’t be angry is a waste of time at this point.
(2) Demonstrate Understanding: Think to yourself; why are they shouting? Well if they were smiling and speaking quietly, would you be thinking “they are really angry about this” – no probably not. They are shouting because they want you to know just how angry they are. If you don’t acknowledge this, they will continue to let you know, LOUDLY! So, say something like “I can see you’re really angry about this…..” Straight away this acknowledgement usually will bring their volume levels down.
(3) Make a request & sell it: You now want to them to calm down, but of course the worst thing you can say to an angry person is “calm down” – it usually results in the opposite. It’s like saying “you are being irrational for being angry about this, it’s so trivial you should just be able to instantly stop being angry about it” – Not what they want to hear. Instead ask them to “slow down”. This works really well as it doesn’t have the emotional element of “calm down” but has the same effect. Have you ever heard anyone shouting slowly? No, me neither. When someone slows their speech, their volume quietens. Not only that, but their breathing also slows and becomes more calm – and what does calm breathing lead to? A calm mind!
Of course we emphasise on our conflict management training courses that you need to sell this request to them. Why should they slow down? What do they get out of it? Well, “….so I can listen to what you are saying and see if I can help you” is the reason. After all, isn’t that exactly why they are in front of you in the first place? They want you to listen to what they are saying. So if they slow down, they get what they want (in that you can now listen to them), and you get what you want (they are no longer shouting). It’s a win-win situation.
So three steps there that can make all the difference. Tried and tested by reality TV stars across the nation! Give them a go yourself. Even better if you want to train your staff check out our conflict management training courses.