Most of us have had client calls that haven’t gone the way we wanted. I found myself in this situation a few years back as a PPC analyst.
The client had given the project manager the feeling that the call wasn’t going to be positive. The PM brought in an executive to sit in on the call and help weather the storm.
The call started and as expected the client launched into a rant.
After what felt like an eternity — but was likely only two or three uninterrupted minutes — the client started to lose steam. My blood pressure had risen, my palms were sweaty, and I wasn’t sure what to say next.
I looked to the executive. She had remained calm and took notes. She gave me a reassuring nod that indicated, “I have this.”
The rant ended and there was a moment of silence over the speakerphone. The executive chimed in:
“I am hearing your frustration and to make sure I understand you correctly, you are saying…” She then perfectly distilled the main concerns raised by the client in two sentences and waited for a response.
“Exactly,” responded the client.
Hearing his concerns articulated back to him had a magical, calming effect. The conversation shifted immediately to what to do next. We were able to clear up the confusion and assure the client all was well.
I learned that before you can begin to address someone’s issues, it’s important to get clear agreement from all parties involved on what the exact issues are.
When in a heated situation, great communicators concisely describe someone’s frustration back to them.
This shows the listener has empathy for the distressed party and is actively listening to their concerns. It’s a simple (but essential) first step that gives you a solid start to finding a solution.