Giving Advice vs. Listening

Food For Thought:

People love to give advice. When someone gives you advice, the advice they give is generally more about what they need rather than what you need.

Recently, I sent a secure email to my doctor’s office asking for a call back so I could discuss the details about whether I need to get a new prescription since my current prescription’s refills ran out. After three days, I did not hear back from anyone from the doctor’s office. So, I called the office and demanded to talk to the administrator of the practice.

When I told the administrator about my frustration, she listened to my entire story and then profusely apologized. She then asked me about what was the best way to reach me. I said email. She said that she would put a note on in my electronic medical record reminding staff members to email me non-medical information.

At the end of this conversation, I felt listened to and had more confidence in the practice’s ability to respond to me.

Let’s try something:

  1. Briefly, write down a dissatisfaction or frustration of a customer/client. Either use a real example or make one up.
  1. Next, write down three open-ended questions you might ask that dissatisfied customer. Do not ask a question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer. These questions should focus on what customer needs were not met.

Asking questions:

  • Takes the pressure off of you to immediately solve the problem or give advice
  • Gives you time to think rather than react
  • Lets the customer know you are interested in him/her

Here are the three steps to help your enhance your business relationship with a dissatisfied customer:.

  1. Listen to the complaint
  2. Emphasize with customer’s frustration
  3. Ask how you can meet their needs

I hope you do not have any dissatisfied customers. If you do, be prepared to listen, emphasize and ask a question. Read about becoming a good listener vs. giving advice in Critical Connections.

Listening is a positive act. You have to put yourself out to do it.

-David Hockney