Building Confidence to De-escalate (Even if you're a conflict-avoider like me)

customer service de-escalation how to deliver bad news

Have you ever found yourself avoiding a difficult conversation with a customer? Maybe you've put off delivering bad news, hoping the problem would magically resolve itself. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Many of us struggle with Mokitas - those uncomfortable truths we know but prefer not to discuss.

But here's the thing: avoiding these conversations doesn't make them go away. Instead, it often exacerbates the problem and can seriously impact your credibility and effectiveness in customer service. 

I'm still blown away that I've taught more than 1 million people to confidently give bad news, control conversations, and de-escalate in the most intense interactions because this is not my start-from place.

However, using the techniques I teach in my De-escalation Academy, I have the confidence to have tough conversations easily.

Identifying Your Mokitas


The first step in overcoming avoidance is recognizing it. Take a moment to reflect on your own behavior. Do you:


  • • Delay responding to customer complaints?
  • • Send lengthy emails instead of making phone calls?
  • Hope problems will resolve themselves without your intervention?


If you answered yes to any of these, you might be dealing with your own "mokitas." But don't worry - awareness is the first step towards change.


Understanding the Cost of Avoidance


It's crucial to recognize what these avoidance behaviors are costing you and your organization. In my case, conflict avoidance:


  • Robbed me of credibility
  • Kept me stressed and hiding
  • Prevented me from contributing at full capacity


By avoiding difficult conversations, we often create more problems than we solve. Customers may become more frustrated, issues may escalate, and our own stress levels can skyrocket.


Taking Steps to Overcome Avoidance


Acknowledge Your Fears


Recognize that it's normal to feel apprehensive about conflict or delivering bad news. Acknowledging these feelings can help you move past them.


Prepare and Practice


Before difficult conversations, take time to prepare. Script out key points you need to cover and practice delivering them. This can help boost your confidence.


Focus on Solutions


When delivering bad news, come prepared with potential solutions or next steps. This shifts the conversation from purely negative to constructive.


Seek Feedback and Support


Ask colleagues or mentors for feedback on your communication style. They may offer valuable insights or strategies you hadn't considered.


Learning from Confident Communicators


Think about someone you admire for their ability to handle challenging interactions. What makes them effective? Some qualities might include:


  • • Clear and direct communication
  • • Empathy and active listening
  • • Ability to remain calm under pressure


Try to incorporate these traits into your own communication style. Remember, confidence often comes with practice.


Embracing Growth and Change


Overcoming our "mokitas" is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, practice, and sometimes a bit of discomfort. But the rewards - increased credibility, reduced stress, and more effective customer service - are well worth the effort.


As you work on addressing your own avoidance behaviors, be patient with yourself. Celebrate small victories and learn from setbacks. With persistence, you'll find yourself handling those challenging customer interactions with increasing ease and confidence.


Remember, every difficult conversation you face head-on is an opportunity for growth - both for you and for your customer relationships. So, what "mokita" will you tackle first?

I made a quick coaching video to help you feel more confident and assertive when dealing with difficult customers. I know it can be tough to deliver bad news and de-escalate tense situations, so this video will help you become a pro at handling those tricky conversations. Check it out before your next customer interaction - it might just make things a lot easier!


I've also put together a companion workbook to help you on your path to greater confidence.


For more help dealing with difficult customers, check out these resources:


57 Phrases to Get Any Angry Customer to Back Down

20 Damn Good Empathy Phrases

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