Uncomfortable Conversations In Business

In the past, business etiquette recommended you stay away from talking about potentially controversial subjects (like politics, religion etc…). The only caveat was if you knew that you and your business contact saw them the same way. However, we now live in a world where these subjects will come up.  We need to be strategic about how we talk have these discussions when a current/future customer feels deeply about the subject and you don’t agree.

The goal: Understand your customer and their point of view.

Not the goal: Get your customer to believe what you believe.

Here are three tips if your customer brings up a potentially volatile topic:

  1. Listen, listen, listen
  2. Ask questions to learn and understand your customer’s point of view. NOT to have a rebuttal
  3. Don’t interrupt. Listen and silent have the same letters (not a coincidence).

Four Steps on How to Respond:

  1. Understand and appreciate your customer’s point of view.
  2. Don’t try to win the argument.
  3. If necessary and you feel comfortable, share your thoughts, be honest and respectful of the other point of view. Never represent an opinion that is not your own.
  4. Avoid all email, text, and social media debates. If a customer initiates a conversation over technology, respond with a video or phone call. Your goal is to understand them and their perspective.

When we all listen and better understand each other, we will win more in business and as a country.