By Tom Hampton
There are times that one must go past a problem to get at a solution. Recently, I had to get back into a wheelchair to assist with mobility and surgery recovery. Although I am no stranger to them, having spent lots of time in wheelchairs and on crutches during my childhood, I had forgotten the issues of tight quarters maneuvering.
As the family cook, the challenges have been unique both with height issues and retrieving ingredients; The biggest challenge being the fridge. To access it, I must roll past it a bit, then turn around 180 degrees so that I am at the right angle to retrieve what I need.
Challenges in our business really are not much different. There are many times in our day we do just that, roll past a problem, only to turn around and find the solution readily available! To follow-the-logic of rolling past challenges & problems and turning back for solutions; we must see that our emotions are why we get stuck on the wrong side of any given challenge. When we learn to get past the emotional charge surrounding the challenge, then we can move forward in finding available, possibly unseen solutions.
I feel an example is in order:
Monday morning at the office checking voicemails and an upset client has left 6 messages over the weekend – each one getting a bit more heated. The phone begins ringing and caller I.D. shows – guess who? The upset client calling again, loaded for bear and aiming at whoever picks up.
Some owners would let the call go to voice mail again, thus angering an upset client even more. Instead, we know the issue is not personal. Be like water off a duck’s back, and patiently listen to your client and their concerns to find a solution.
I suggest having a pencil and paper to mark relevant points and only address the clients concern(s) once their frustrations have been fully vented. Once past the initial challenge, now it is time to turn back to the challenge and seek solutions. Those notes you took are the key!
First and foremost, people want to feel as if they have been heard, especially after an uncomfortable situation has occurred and they feel mistreated or cheated. Many times, due to charged emotions on both sides, it can be far too easy to misinterpret the facts of the situation. Clarity of your clients concerns and challenges, brings opportunities. Once your client has expressed their concerns, restate what the perceived problem is to verify with the client that YES; You are listening! The restatement of the challenge adds clarity and shows your client their concerns are important. This is not your first time as a business owner solving difficulties with clients, you are an EXPERT at it!
With our emotions out of the way and the client being heard, solutions will quickly follow and is generally a compromise between client and owner. Sometimes there is nothing we can do for our clients concerns due to outside circumstances; however, most challenges do rest within our abilities to solve equitably. It is taking the effort to go past the challenge and turn around – aka – clarity without emotion – to see or access the solutions!
Practice makes perfect my friends…