Last week, I had a customer service nightmare. It affected me so much that I went live on Facebook about it.
To cut a long story short, it all revolved around awful communication on the part of a service provider. Instead of telling me early on in the process that things where happening, they avoided the conversation, even after the event had taken place. This not only left me inconvenienced and out of sorts. It caused me doubt their integrity as a business. It led me to make a decision I didn’t really want to.
How different the outcome would have been, if only someone at their end realised that a conversation was neccessary. If they talked to me early on in the process, then we could have agreed a positive way forward, together. Instead, the result was more akin to a handbags at dawn stand-off in a no-lose situation for either party.
It seems that a lot of people fear having difficult conversations. Not only those in customer service or client facing context. I mean all difficult conversations: From telling a work colleague that their perfume (Or the lack of it!) makes co-workers gag, to telling the kids that the hamster had gone to the big carrot patch in the sky. Or that the car had backed into a bollard on its own accord. Or that the relationship isn’t working for you anymore. Or that you need to resign your job in order to maintain your sanity. I mean ALL the difficult discussions.
Of course, some of these conversations will have potentially life changing outcomes. Others are less important in the grander scheme of things. Yet the one thing these discussions have in common is that most people will go out of their way to avoid having them, and deal with the fall-out instead.
This makes no sense to me. If something is worth saying, or needs to be said, then it is better to deal with it straight away. In my experience, especially the recent customer service issue, the outcome of NOT having the conversation is always a lot worse than sitting down with the other person and finding the words to seek a mutually satisfactory outcome. It’s like ripping a plaster off a graze: A moment’s pain before it all goes away, and everyone is happy again.
Most people, in life and in business, are reasonable and happy to come to an arrangement or to deal with an issue if they feel included and respected. The lack of contact or avoidance of the subject suggests that they are not being considered. That is what usually causes the friction. Not the problem itself.
Finding the courage to triumph over problems by having the difficult conversations defines our characters, makes us stronger and allows us to grow. Ignoring the truth, avoiding difficult situations and side stepping issues can make us appear and feel smaller than what we truly are. The tragedies can be avoided by simply saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.
How do you feel about having diffiuclt conversations?
Please email me – I would love to know your point of view!
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