People buy on emotion. Relationships are based on emotion. What do you do when someone is really emotional? It might be a customer, staff member or spouse who gets upset. You want to calm them down so you can deal with the business issues at hand. Many people think that by being reasonable they can communicate best. However, the other person is not rational in this moment, they are emotional. When someone is emotional they are feeling a great deal and they are expressing this to you. They want to be acknowledged, seen, and heard in this moment of distress. If you make your first response to them an acknowledgement of their feelings you will go a long way to building a strong business relationship. This acknowledgment may be as simple as “Oh dear, I’m sorry that XYZ has happened” or “This has been a real nuisance for you, hasn’t it” or “Wow, I am sorry, I didn’t realise how much it has affected you” or even “Bugger!” (said in a caring kind of way). Don’t rush on with more words, pause to let what you have said sink in and give time for them to respond before going for the ‘fix it’ part of your response.
Alan did the first day of the TUF workshop and was sceptical about trying the idea of responding to the emotion when someone is upset. On the weekend between sessions he had parked his car across the driveway of the business next door to where he went shopping. When he came out the owner of the business was trying to get his vehicle in the driveway, past Alan’s car. He started shouting and swearing. Alan was taken aback at first. And then he remembered. Respond to the emotion. “I guess it must be pretty frustrating having people do this all the time. I’m really sorry.” He said to the irate business owner.
Alan was really surprised how quickly the guy cooled down. “It was almost instant,” he told me when we met for the second session. “I didn’t really believe it when you told us this last week but I can see that it really does work”.