Is your communication strategic?

In a recent “Calming Upset Customers” seminar, I explained why people go ballistic when angry.

“When we’re upset, we behave from our emotions and have cut off all rational thinking. A rational person would think, ‘How can I best accomplish my communication goal?’ It would not be by yelling or cursing at the person who can possibly find a solution.”

Afterward, the participants’ discussion made me realize that few people think about a communication strategy before they open their mouths. Most people just spew forth whatever crosses their mind, with little or no thinking or filter — especially when upset.

How can you not fall prey to this predisposition? How can you be more cognizant of your communication goal so you don’t get caught in emotional triggers?

  1. Before entering what you think may become a contentious situation, take a moment to remind yourself what you want to accomplish. Ask yourself, “What is the best strategy for accomplishing my communication goal?”
  2. If you have any history of raising your voice, cursing, or becoming argumentative, ask yourself, “How can I not get triggered and become emotional?” Perhaps you need to remind yourself to breathe, pause before responding, ask questions before reacting, and ask for the other person’s help.
  3. If you find yourself getting angry say something like, “I’m getting frustrated. I’d like to escalate this to your manager before this conversation gets heated.” Or if with a coworker, “I can feel myself getting tense which diminishes rational thinking. I’d like to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts and then resume this discussion.”

By thinking through your communication goals and creating a strategy, you are more likely to have a satisfying interaction. Even if you don’t get what you want, you know you’ve behaved maturely and haven’t embarrassed yourself nor unthinkingly berated someone else.

If you’d like to discuss how I could help improve your staff’s communication or customer service skills, give me a call.