Thriving Under Fire Blog

You don't need to fight! Here's how you can switch your brain from emotional to rational.

Posted by John Faisandier on Jan 29, 2018 8:03:00 AM

A couple are commuting to work in their car. There is an easiness between them as they drive along the highway. She, quite innocently, raises the unresolved issue about the high cost of their upcoming holiday.

He experiences this question as an attack. He tenses up and goes silent. That's his usual way of coping when emotions like this arise in him. In that moment he thinks of her and this question as 100% the cause of his uncomfortable feelings.

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Topics: Physical Reactions, Upset People, Difficult Conversations, Difficult customers, Emotions

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

Improve your Emotional Intelligence

Posted by John Faisandier on Oct 4, 2016 1:59:38 PM

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) a concept first coined by Daniel Goleman, can be learnt and improved.

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Topics: customer service, Emotional intelligence, Physical Reactions, Upset People, Difficult Conversations, Difficult customers, Emotions, Self-Care

You don't have to fight!

Posted by John Faisandier on Sep 13, 2016 11:32:53 AM

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.

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Topics: Physical Reactions, Upset People, Difficult Conversations, Difficult customers, Emotions

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

Turning towards, against or away

Posted by John Faisandier on Feb 11, 2015 1:53:14 PM

Three actions that help or hinder happy holidays.

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Topics: Physical Reactions, Upset People, Emotions

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

Listen to your mates!

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 21, 2014 12:04:10 PM

The court case is continuing against Eric Smail, of Christchurch who murdered the tetraplegic friend he had been caring for over a number of years. Their relationship had become strained and Eric wasn’t coping.
A short time before the murder he was in the pub with some friends and had tried to tell them he was having difficulties with his friend. They just laughed it off and didn’t hear his distress. This made him feel worse and he murdered his friend that night.

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Topics: Friends, High School Shootings, Physical Reactions, Difficult Conversations, Distress, Extremes, Listening, Violence

Russell Crow kicked out of pub

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 21, 2014 11:53:59 AM

A little snippet in the paper yesterday said Russell Crow had been excluded from a pub somewhere in England because he caused too much trouble. Russell caused difficulties once before when he threw a phone at the concierge in a New York hotel. At the time he said this is how we settle things where I come from (NZ). He has to have been misquoted, surely!

What can you do when people like Russell Crow nut-off and get upset. Sometimes there's not a lot you can do but hold your own dignity. It is worth acknowledging that you see they are upset. It can be helpful to apologise that they have been put out, or the service hasn't met their expectation. This is not accepting blame for what has happened. It is letting them know they are not alone with their feelings and distress.

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Topics: Angry, I'm OK You're OK, Physical Reactions, Difficult customers, Russell Crow

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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