Thriving Under Fire Blog

How One Man Defused a Situation with One Very Simple Skill... 

Posted by John Faisandier on Jan 18, 2018 11:41:22 AM


It's very easy to respond to aggression with aggression... but what if we reacted differently?


Alan was out shopping one weekend and couldn’t find a car park anywhere. Since he would only be a few minutes he decided to take a risk and park across the driveway of the business next door to the shop he was visiting.

When he returned to his car, Alan found one very angry business owner, shouting and swearing at him for blocking the driveway and preventing access to his business.

At first Alan was taken aback. His usual reaction would be to fire a rebuttal straight back at the guy. That would have led to a shouting match and he would have driven off in a rage, even though it was his fault the guy was upset in the first place.

But Alan didn’t do that. Instead he remembered the key message from the first session of the TUF workshop he did the week before:

"Acknowledge the Emotion"

Instead of yelling back at the business owner, Alan acknowledged and validated the reason for his aggression. "I guess it must be pretty frustrating having people park here all the time, I'm really sorry".

Surprisingly for Alan, it worked! He was amazed how quickly the guy calmed down. "It was almost instant" Alan exclaimed during the second workshop session a couple of days later.

 “I didn’t really believe it when you told us this last week but I can see that it really does work”.

"Never in the history of calming down, has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down"


As with any new way of thinking, a little scepticism is normal, but the proof is in the results. The simple task of acknowledging the feelings of an aggressor, complainant or simply a difficult customer could be the difference between an escalating situation and a peaceful resolution.

Try it! and share your successes with us here at TUF.

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Topics: Angry, APE, Emotion, Physical Reactions, Upset People, Sceptical

Computers can't do customer service...

Posted by John Faisandier on Jun 22, 2015 2:04:24 PM
Computers just don't get it!
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Topics: customer service, Acknowledge Feelings, Emotion, Physical Reactions, Upset People, Difficult customers, Emotions, Listening

Valentine's Day 2013

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 2:11:18 PM

Whatever you may think about Valentine’s Day there is a degree of excitement around. I heard people renewing their vows to their partners on the radio this morning. People give red roses, chocolates, special meals and many other signs of their love today.
Anything that get’s people to relate better to each other is good in my book. Building positive relationships needs to be worked at. Just as with a loving relationship you need to say and do things to let the other person know they are loved, respected and valued.

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Topics: customer service, Acknowledge Feelings, Emotion, Conversations, Difficult People, Emotions, Life Positions, Perspective, Relationships

Weak apologies are poor customer service

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 1:31:52 PM

A story in the Dominion Post this morning (February 4, 2013) sparked my interest. It is fifty years since a young man, high on alcohol and tranquilizers shot two policemen in cold blood.
He served over 11 years in jail and another 10 years on probation and has since lived a productive life, it would appear. He is now 77 year old with children and grandchildren. I have no quibble about his punishment and am delighted that he has done well with his life.

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Topics: customer service, Crucial Conversations, Emotion, Conflict Resolution, Difficult Conversations, Grief, Relationships, Thriving Under Fire

Bad customer service stories

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 1:16:28 PM

The supplement in last weekend’s Dom Post in Wellington (Saturday 26 January 2013) had a feature about the terrible customers that turn up in hospitality settings and the often equally nasty things some workers do to get back at them. It was a story full of horror and negativity.
People who work in customer service, especially in hospitality can get jaded. Customers can be very difficult especially if they are affected by alcohol in bars and restaurants or highly anxious such as when travelling.

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Topics: customer service, Attitude, Emotion, Debriefing, Difficult customers, Listening, Reactions, Self-Care

Hearing the unspoken request

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 1:04:45 PM

Another missed moment at the luxury resort which said they were ‘all about YOU” 
The housekeeping staff were very friendly and pleasant of course. When my wife mentioned to the cleaner that there were bits of white fluff on the carpet from something we had dropped she replied "Don't worry, I'll give it a good vacuum when you go".

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Topics: customer service, Emotion, Upset People, Listening

It's all about YOU - the customer, Yeah Right!

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 12:39:45 PM

I recently stayed at a luxury resort as a birthday gift from my family. It was a lovely place and we had a relaxing time except for one thing that I was struck by.
Their by-line was "We're all about YOU". Great I thought, I will be looked after here.

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Topics: customer service, Acknowledge Feelings, Emotion, Upset People, Listening, Reactions

Empathy stronger than gun law reform

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 12:35:14 PM

Adam Lanza the gunman who caused such carnage in Newtown Connecticut was a loner. It was difficult for people to show him empathy and difficult for him to receive it. But that is what he needed most from the ordinary people around him.
While changing the gun laws will restrict access to these lethal weapons and may reduce the number of incidents of shootings in America, changing the way we show empathy is a more sustainable way to change the hearts and minds of others and make the world a safe and peaceful place.

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Topics: customer service, Crucial Conversations, Emotion, High School Shootings, Physical Reactions, sensitivity, Difficult People, Empathy, Listening, Relationships

Convincing others and handling their objections

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 12:25:31 PM

Here is a TUF tip when speaking to individuals or to a group of people in a meeting, especially about new projects that you are wanting to introduce.
When someone asks a question or puts up an objection, you will have more chance that they will listen to you if you acknowledge the feeling or concern that is most likely behind that question. Be aware of their emotion, even if they don’t express it fully.

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Topics: Emotion, Difficult Conversations, Difficult Internal Customers, Reactions, Relationships, Sales, Thriving Under Fire

Workplace Communication: Simple or Complex?

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 24, 2014 12:21:28 PM

A controversy in the news today concerns the publicist for the ACT Party, John Ansell, who sacked himself because the party wouldn’t use some of his copy in their advertisements. Leader Don Brash said he was tempted by some of the statements John Ansell used, but in the end toned them down. John Ansell claimed the whole party are cowards because they won’t speak ‘the truth’ about what is going on.
Without getting into the details of the controversy, here are two things we can learn about workplace communication and community dialogue from this incident.

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Topics: Crucial Conversations, Emotion, Conflict Resolution, Difficult Conversations, Don Brash, Feedback, John Ansell, Listening, Perspective, Relationships, Role Models

Managing Emotions

Learn to deal with difficult customers, colleagues, family and friends

You probably didn't learn these skills at home, and I bet school wasn't much help either. You can develop the skills and understanding to manage the everyday emotional communication challenges through the regular postings on this blog. 

You can:

  • Access free tips to help you
  • Change the way you interact with people
  • Learn to stay calm and in control
  • Build more satisfying relationship
  • Be more relaxed in yourself
  • Enjoy your work more

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