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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) a concept first coined by Daniel Goleman, can be learnt and improved.
In a recent review of the TUF Online Training program the writer was pleased that I did not advocate zero tolerance: not letting customers swear or show any kind of aggression. Organisations with a zero tolerance policy towards customers tell people not to swear. If the customer persists in swearing they terminate the call or stop serving them and ask them to leave the premises.
The biggest challenge in dealing with difficult situations is to first of all manage your own emotional reactions to them. It is easy to see the other person as difficult and to blame them for your uncomfortable feelings. Acknowledging and accepting your own feelings to yourself is an important first step to making a positive response to someone who you find challenging.
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.
When I rang my friend in Christchurch the other night, his 13 year old son answered the phone. “You must have got quite a shake up by the earthquake” I said. “Nah, not really, it was nothing”, he shot back offhandedly. I was taken aback but didn't pursue the conversation at the time.
Later his father told me that he had stopped his son making inappropriate jokes about the earthquake. At that point I saw clearly how this was the boy’s way of dealing with the scary shake.
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.