3 Uncomfortable Scenarios that Small Business Owners Can Learn From

Let’s face it.  It isn’t all glamour when it comes to managing a business.

Not only do owners need to worry about their bottom line, they also have to worry about the emotional needs of their customers and employees.

Bad customer and employee experiences can hurt a business, so how does a savvy owner/manager handle these situations?

Below are some examples from my own managerial experience that utilize the concept of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the practice of recognizing and managing one’s emotions effectively; it can also be used to gauge the emotions of others and act accordingly.  Below are some of my own examples that utilize emotional intelligence.

 

Dealing With An Emotionally Distraught Employee

I had a minor-aged employee who had discovered that she was pregnant.  During this life-changing moment in her life, I was also informed by my superior that I had to address her poor on-the-job performance as noted by a concerned customer.

Solution – I brought her attention to the customer’s complaint about her performance.  While this may seem insensitive, it was how I stated the concern that made the difference.  Instead of harping on about it, I stated the concern in only one sentence, as in “I received word that you were engaged in an inappropriate conversation with another employee”.

What did I do after that?  I waited patiently for her response, disregarding any resulting awkward silence.  After about 15 seconds, she broke down crying and informed me that she had just discovered that she was pregnant.  I then allowed her to vent her frustrations for as long as she needed.

At the end of it, she looked visibly relieved, so I brought it back and reminded her of the complaint she had received.  She acknowledged that she wasn’t thinking clearly and would fix the problem.  I never had a problem with her after her emotionally charged outpouring.

Why Did This Work?

I made her aware that I knew of her emotional state and expressed empathy by listening patiently to her rant.  After relieving herself of her emotional burden, she was more receptive to my coaching and even
owned the problem.  Our professional relationship greatly improved that day because she walked away feeling valued, and I was able to effectively coach her as needed.

How To Deal With An Angry Colleague

During a particularly busy lunch rush, my co-manager threw a bottle and screamed expletives at me and the rest of team.  Afterwards, he stormed into the office and remained there the remainder of the rush.

The shocked employees are looking at me, wondering how I will address what just happened.

Solution – After business ebbed down, I handed out floor assignments to the team members to ensure floor coverage and walked into the office.  Immediately, I could feel the anger emanating from my co-worker,
but instead of taking a defensive or even angry stance, I remained calm.  Before opening the door, I took a deep breath and resolved to maintain a calm “aura”.

It’s a good thing that I did, because the second I walked into the office, he unloaded on me.  Again, I allowed him to vent as long as he needed, all while maintaining my calm demeanor.  After 5 minutes, he noticed that his barrage of angry words was not having the desired impact and began to let his guard down.

At this time, I asked him what we should do.  Again, I waited patiently for his response.  He then stood up, looked me in the eye and apologized for his outburst.  We then shook hands and walked out onto the floor together and he apologized to all of the employees individually for his behavior.  The rest of the shift went on seamlessly as if nothing happened.

Why Did This Work?

I acknowledged his feelings by hearing him out.  Similar to the previous scenario, I allowed him to vent his frustrations while expressing my resolve to not engage him on the same emotional level.  I also acknowledged his position as co-manager by asking him for solutions.

In this case, I validated his emotions and position, after which time he assessed his own behavior and gauged it against my own.  The co-manager understood the impact of his transgression and fixed the problem.  If I would have reacted angrily, this scenario would have gone much worse, but since I set the tone, it invited him to follow suit and adjust his behavior.

How To Deal With A Belligerent Customer

A customer was not pleased with the quality of his order and threw the offending food onto the counter.  He began yelling loudly at the front counter employee, showing complete disregard for other guests.  I asked the employee to complete a task in the back of the store and the customer begins to direct his anger towards me.

Solution - After letting the customer vent their frustration and anger, I asked them if they wanted me to replace their order.  After informing me that they didn’t want their order replaced, I asked them what they would like me to do.  They rudely demanded a full refund at that time, which I promptly did without question.  I attempted to hand them their money with some coupons, but they threw the coupons on the ground and stormed out with their money.

During the whole unpleasant exchange, I kept my voice even and my demeanor calm.  Even if this customer walked out angry, I still met their needs to the best of my ability and didn’t engage them on their level.

Why Did This Work?

Simply put, I acknowledged the customer’s concern and provided them a solution that they were pleased with.  Even after hearing their angry rant for an extended period of time, they still chose to be belligerent.  However, I never allowed their anger to penetrate my calm demeanor.  I expressed concern not only for the angry customer, but also the poor customers in the lobby who had to listen to their tirade.

In Conclusion

Utilizing emotional intelligence, managers can address the needs of their customers and staff and hold themselves to a higher emotional standard simultaneously.  In the above-stated scenarios, all three of them could have ended much more negatively had I reacted in a similar fashion.  By validating the emotions of others while keeping their own in check, managers can handle pretty much any situation by simply employing logic.

This post was submitted by Robert Conrad a former Trainer and Manager with over 8 years of experience, and a Restaurant Aficionado. Show your appreciation by following him on Twitter

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