I recently took a required customer service course for my place of employment. At first I thought it was silly, everyone knows customer service. Our parents raised us to be polite, smile, say please and thank you, and don’t gossip. But when you look around your workplace and your home life, how often are those old fashioned manners being used? I realized that even I had horrible manners, especially when it came to interactions with those closest to me. Appreciation and pleasantries are often overlooked. So I thought I would share with you a few highlights of what I took away from my day of training.
First, when communicating with people, the words you use are actually only 7% effective. What is most important to people is showing how much you care. Therefore our body language and our tone make up 93% of how people interpret our message. Effective communication includes words, attitudes, and emotions.
Second, people want to trust you. So qualities such as integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence come into play. You can talk all you want, but your actions have to back up your words in order for people to trust what you say.
Third, actively listening is essential in a conversation. Sit down when possible, make direct eye contact, ask questions and most importantly, don’t interrupt when someone is talking to you. Often we are too busy thinking of a response or trying to find a solution to the problem that we forget the most important thing to help someone feel better is to simply listen.
Fourth, when someone comes to you with a problem, they may not be expecting you to resolve it for them. They may simply want to vent. Furthermore, you may not be in a position to help them with their problem. It is important to actively listen, express your feelings “I’m sorry that you are going through this”, and show empathy “I can understand why that is upsetting you”.
Fifth, keep in mind there are behavior styles, cultural styles, and generational styles of communicating and be careful not to jump to conclusions or judge. Understanding personality types and behavior styles of other people will really improve communication.
Sixth, find the good in people. There is always something to compliment someone on. People appreciate positive feedback and appreciation for the work that they do. This applies to both the workplace and home. Try to acknowledge positive actions around you. Reinforce good behavior and deeds.
Finally, don’t gossip. It just creates a mess! When someone comes to you to gossip or complain about someone, first listen, second direct them back to the person they are having a problem with to communicate with them directly, and third don’t talk to anyone else about the conversation!
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