How do I get coworkers to see that their words matter? I’ve heard some pretty rude things said to customers lately, and it’s a poor reflection on all of us.
Hello and thanks for the great question.
When a coworker is unprofessional as a communicator, it of course affects their reputation and team and company standing as well. Spoken and written words matter a LOT. They carry energy, have power to build or tear down relationships, and they make or break customer service. We serve both our external customers – those paying to do business with us who are affected by our attitude and communication, and internal customers – those paid to work with us who are affected by our attitude and communication. A question for readers: with which group are you more intentional about words and tone? What might you do to better serve those you overlook?
Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote: “Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.” What a helpful challenge for all of us as communicators.
Sometimes in GC Customer Communication Skills training events, I offer an exercise to get folks thinking about what they might do differently to polish their interactions. You’re welcome to share this with your team. I recommend you do so humbly, acknowledging that you’re far from perfect, just like them.
Instructions: List a few details about a recent encounter you had with an internal or external customer. To whom were you speaking or writing, about what? Briefly document the situation, then write one small thing you could have done to improve your part of the communication, even by a small margin.
Audience members around the U.S. have recently shared some great answers, including:
- I could have avoided saying something rudely
- I’d have gathered facts first before judging
- I could have offered a compliment instead of just thinking that they did a good job
- I might have shown more empathy to come across as less arrogant
- I wish I would have picked up that call sounding like I actually cared
- Forgot to thank the person and use their name
- I interrupted several times, could have slowed down a bit
- It would have been helpful to my co-worker if I had followed up sooner
- Probably should have prepared before I made the call
- Could have used more open/awake body language.
We’ll never get it right every time, but each of us can strive to set an example as we move through the world. At GC, our goal for every interaction is to project positive, poised, professional communication. Join us! It’s a worthy goal.