“Why is she telling me this again, I got it the first time?” Steve thought to himself as he suppressed his annoyance with Jan and wondered how he could finish the conversation quickly.
Steve didn’t realise that he was the one who was prolonging the conversation. He was sure he was listening to Jan. He made eye contact with her and gave her his full attention. He understood clearly what she was saying about the details of the new website and yet somehow she kept repeating herself. Perhaps she needed to go on a communication course.
Steve failed to do the most basic, yet important thing when listening to someone else. He didn’t acknowledge and respond to the feelings that were at the heart of what Jan was saying. Her conversation included a great deal of technical information as well as many of her feelings about the project. She had struggled with a number of difficulties and overcome them to reach this point. These feelings were her experience, they were real and they were a subtle part of the conversation.
Steve could have said something like, “Jan, you have really worked hard at this and come up with a great solution. It can’t have been all plain sailing”. Jan would have known that he was really listening because he responded to her feelings before he talked about the technical details.
Jan herself may not have been conscious that she wanted her feelings acknowledged. She might not have been able to describe what was missing in his response. She did however keep talking until she felt really heard.
Acknowledging her feelings wouldn’t have taken long either. Perhaps just a couple of interactions would have satisfied that need. In fact, the whole conversation would have been finished a lot sooner if Steve had acknowledged her feelings right at the beginning.
This is the same for customer service situations whether you are with a difficult customer or a more ordinary customer. It’s the same when people work together in teams and on projects. Workplace emotions are present in every interaction. When we acknowledge them, communication is enhanced.
See our programme TUF for Teams and TUF for Managers that will give you the skills to listen and acknowledge emotions in the workplace.
Posted by John Faisandier on 5th July, 2011 | Permalink
Tags: relationships, difficult internal customers, difficult customers, acknowledge feelings,customer service, emotion, reactions, difficult people, listening, conversations