Overheard at the supermarket: “I don’t like the way they do things over there. I’m going to give them a piece of my mind. There’s going to be a confrontation.”
To be fair, I don’t know what prompted the above-referenced quote. It stuck in my mind for a variety of reasons, the first is that I’m not confrontational and avoid heated confrontation at all cost. The second is that I wonder if the woman above, who was clearly on the defensive, took some time out to ask questions and discuss whatever set her off before deciding on her confrontational course of action?
When I worked as a receptionist, I was always so surprised by how many people started screaming at me as soon as I said “hello.” I didn’t know these people, nor was I the reason for their anger, but they felt that if they were “spirited” right off the bat they would get results. Later, when I worked in a customer service capacity I bore much of the brunt of customers’ wrath. One thing I learned is that the anger and abuse solved nothing. Many times the issue had nothing to do with my company at all and if the customer asked questions instead of being confrontational he would have received answers quicker and on more pleasant terms.
Here are some truths I’ve come to know as a result of working in a customer service capacity and also as a freelance writer and blogger:
- There are two sides to every story. There is no exception to this truth. Being confrontational won’t change that fact.
- If you’re too busy yelling to hear yourself yell, and you’re not willing to listen, you won’t achieve results. You have to let the other person talk to achieve any goal.
- There’s a different between honesty and rudeness. If you feel “blunt honesty” isn’t rude, think again. While some people might cower to this, most people just see it as anger.
It’s been my experience people are confrontational because they don’t know how to ask the right kinds of questions.
- Instead of saying, “I can’t believe that person did that, I’m going to give her a piece of my mind,” try saying, “Wow. I wonder why she said that. I’m going to ask.”
- Instead of saying, “So and so told me she said blah blah blah and now I’m going to rake her over the coals,” try saying, “Wow. Could that really be true? I’m going to ask her for her side of the story.”
- Instead of saying, “I don’t know what possessed him to do that,” ask. If you want to know why someone did something, don’t assume. Ask.
As writers and bloggers, it’s our jobs to seek out the answers even if they’re not what we expected. That means asking questions and allowing both sides of the story to come through. Being confrontational is one-sided. People only respond to anger because they want to get rid of you. However, if you take the time to talk and ask questions, you may find you get answers and a whole lot more.