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Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” has some strong things to say about people who aren’t good listeners.
He said, “If you want to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.”
He continues, stating that people who are like this are, “Bores, that is all they are — bores intoxicated with their own egos, drunk with a sense of their own importance.”
Although Carnegie’s sentiment is a strong one, the fact of the matter is he’s right: People generally don’t like people who only talk about themselves. As a result, this should be taken into consideration when it comes to how your employees conduct themselves, whether they’re in sales, working the front desk or in management.
This can be difficult to do when a customer is mad. Oftentimes, it’s human nature to want to jump right in and defend yourself or the company. But Carnegie advised doing the opposite, and instead listening to the customer intently, taking an active-interest in their complaint and point of view.
By doing so, you may find the issue to be more easily resolved than if you immediately jump to the defensive.
Carnegie shared the following anecdote to illustrate his point.
A department store in Chicago almost lost a regular customer who spent several thousand dollars each year in that store because a sales clerk wouldn’t listen. Mrs. Henrietta Douglas had purchased a coast at a special sale. After she brought it home she noticed there was a tear in the lining. She came back the next day and asked the sales clerk to exchange it. The clerk refused even to listen to her complaint.
Mrs. Douglas was about to walk out indignantly, searing never to return to that store ever, when she was greeted by the department manager, who knew her from her many years of patronage.
The manager listened attentively to whole story, examined the coat, and then said: “We will certainly repair or replace the lining, or if you prefer, give you your money back.”
What a difference in treatment! If that manager had not come along and listened to the customer, a long-term patron of that store could have been lost forever.
How will you handle the next tricky situation with a customer? Will you listen, or risk the possibility of losing a long-term member?