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Day 6: The 5 secrets of effective communication for small business owners to manage complaints

You want success in business? You have to connect with people, sometimes in the face of conflict.

How do you connect? You listen. Actively. That doesn’t mean the odd “Ahem, yes, ooo, ok, like it” thrown after hearing a few sentences. You have to show people you are hearing them.

Heres a cool framework to create connection from conflict from Psychiatry Professor David Burns, creator of the T.E.A.M CBT.

Client: “Your online course is crappy. It took too long to get through because of all your self promoting BS. I want my time and money back!”

Step #1: Disarm

Don’t fight, agree with them. Even if what they say seems unfair and unjust, find a hint of truth in the comment and say “you’re right, my course is long and if does contain self promotion”

Step #2: Empathy of their…

A) Thoughts — repeat back exactly what you heard to show you were listening. “you are telling me that my online course is crappy…” Don’t skim over the important points even if they are painful to hear.

B) Feelings — make an informed guess about 1 or 2 emotions they might be feeling. “ I can imagine you might be feeling pretty angry and frustrated with me for good reason as your time is precious”

Step #3: “I Feel statements”

Declare your own emotions tactfully but assertively without being too subservient “I feel quite sad and guilty because I’ve not met your expectations ”

Step #4 Respect

Don’t just say respectful things, actually feel it. Convey this by adding “…and I really respect you as an ongoing customer”

Step #5 Inquiry

Ask if you’ve heard them right and if there is anything else they’d like to share. “Tell me have I heard you correctly? It’s so important what you are saying, please tell me if there is anything else that could have been improved”

Done well, your client feels understood, you are able to get constructive feedback and possibly avoid a time-consuming formal complaint or bad review.

If your interest is to connect amidst adversity you might consider these skills.

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