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What will be your “Communication Strategy”?

What will be your “Communication Strategy”?

You are working at the local store.  A customer comes in and approaches the counter with an item, as this will be a standard sale.  You hit total, and the customer loses it.

They cannot believe how much it came to and felt it should have been less.  They carry on with their antics right in front of your counter, coworkers and you. You did not do anything wrong. You were chosen to be this person’s target, and you are getting dumped on.  This situation is a prime example of human frailties and unpredictability. However, you do have options to consider. 

Lorraine Bilodeau is a counselor and anger specialist who has given some guidelines for responding to anger.  There are two great reasons for you to commit to following some simple instructions and taking them to heart.  

The first of these reasons is how will you be prepared for angry customers and coworkers in a way that will give you an extra dose of confidence when the surprise hits you.  

The second reason is when you are prepared, there will be fewer encounters. You may still encounter a mystery or two, but you will be ready for them.

These guidelines are simple. In fact, there are eight.  Perhaps we can call them the helpful eight.

Guideline #1 – Put Safety First:  Having violence in the workplace is real.  Although, it is not common. Keep in mind, the chance of being involved is higher now than it has been in the past.  Your safety should come first. You should start by knowing what public services are available to you in case you happen to witness violence or even be attack yourself.  Be sure to see where you can enlist help fast. Always tell yourself that leaving the premises is sometimes the best choice. Seek out a safe place until you know the situation is now correct.

Guideline #2 – Self-Regulate:  The way you learned to respond to anger is by watching caregivers.  This information is recorded permanently in the subconscious mind. Consider it as you self-regulate your life.  It may not be possible to reprogram instinctive responses; although, you can interrupt old habits. Improve your communication strategies!

If an angry person confronts you, it is time to take a step back and a deep breath.  Through this simple act, you are giving yourself a second to remind yourself what you should do next.  Take the time to listen and take notes to what is being said by this person. At the time they wind down, you can use this information you gained to ask questions.  Be sure to practice this new behavior both mentally and verbally BEFORE you get caught again, which will give insurance you are ready for the next time.

Guideline #3 – Use a Nonthreatening Approach:  Anger is not a weapon instead it is a feeling.  Therefore, use a non-threatening approach. There is no need to retaliate.  Instead, you should relax your arms, legs and your facial expressions. These are the tools for helping you stay calm and will encourage the angry one to get calm.

Guideline #4 – Ask for Clarification:  Let’s face it, you will do not know the answer to simple problems such as “She’s angry because she’s jealous” or “He’s angry because he thinks I lied to him.”  Unless you ask for clarification, you will never know why they are angry. When you assume that you know what has caused the angry, you will compromise yourself.  A great communication strategy is to listen and then ask, “What happened that is a problem for you?” or you can get to the point and ask, “Do you think I lied to you?” Make sure when asking these question, it is in a nondefensively manner.  You must also be willing to hear “no.” To feel your toolbox, you can also ask these types of questions, “What seems to be the problem?” “What needs to be fixed or changed?” or “What do you want to have happened first?”

Guideline #5 – Present an Attitude of Respect:  Most of the time, anger shown as rudeness, inconsideration, and impoliteness.  When you approach an angry person, you must present an attitude of respect. They have a right to be there and the right to intervene.

Guideline #6 – You Do Not Have to be Right:  Start by giving up on the feeling that you know better than the other person.  You do not have to be right. When you feel that you need to be right, it gives a sign of your insecurity and low self-esteem.  Do not pull yourself down.

Guideline #7 – Review Your Language:  Certain words are emotionally-loaded and will tend to invite the negatively-charged emotional responses.  Take the time to review your language. You will want to avoid words such as but, you, I know how you feel, why and should.  At the same time, you must also prevent the look-alikes such as ought, must, have to, etc.

For us to put it into a more active situation are:

  • But is better said as “AND YET,”
  • You will become a description of yourself = “I” statements,
  • I know how you feel “I’d like to understand how you are feeling;”
  • Why becomes, “What are the reasons;” and
  • Should ought, must have to will become “What if, my suggestion is or this is an option for you.”

Guideline #8 – Positively Relive the Incident:  Look at the incident, and it shows as noneffective, reframe it into a practical outcome as this will help you to relive the episode positively.  On the other hand, if the incident was used to a closer look and figure out why it worked well and replayed it several times as if you are rehearsing it for the future.

While you work through these simple guidelines, stay balanced.  You must keep in touch with yourself and with the angry person. In other words, stay blue.  You will find yourself happier, healthier and able to go home energized instead of worn out.

If all else fails, consider sharing this with the “customer”.

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