I recently discovered that one of our staff (Paul) is known for his ability to participate in difficult conversations. This past weekend, when a local company failed to deliver fa bus or our student ministry retreat, he was nominated to make the call. He was told “take your gloves off and get this fixed.” And he did. A new bus was delivered within 35 minutes.
In contrast to that, my wife and I experienced extremely poor service last night at a local restaurant. But when that happened, I did not “take my gloves off” and address the issue. Instead – when the check was delivered – I zeroed out the tip and left fuming.
So, I spoke to Paul today and asked for tips on being “that guy”. Although he enjoys doing this (and I don’t), I found his thoughts to be very helpful. He said:
Be slow to escalate. When he called the bus company, he did not start with a confrontational conversation. He began with a respectful approach that described the situation. There was no reason to put the other person into a defensive posture.
Never allow yourself to get hot. He said “if you get hot, they will never give you what you want, even if they can.” If you can’t speak calmly without hurting others, then walk away and deal with it the next day.
Try to give them options. Maybe they haven’t thought of all the possibilities that you have. Perhaps you can suggest an easier or better solution for everyone involved.
Always have a followup conversation to clean up the relationship. He said “I won’t sleep at night if I left everything on a bad tone.” Plus, we would tend to avoid calling them if we needed them again.
Wrapping up, he said “Yes I enjoy doing this, but that doesn’t give me permission to be a jerk.” He will not give himself permission to belittle others. “When I can’t get a satisfactory solution, I tell the company that I will remember how I was treated and will and tell all my friends about it.”
Today, I called the restaurant and shared my experience with the manager. We had a good conversation and I am waiting on a call back to see what might be done to make things right. I am glad I did.
Thanks for listening.