Let cool heads prevail under pressure

By · Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Overheard conversations can offer real lessons in getting along with others. Or not.

Here’s something you can try. When you are standing in line at a retail service desk, pay attention to conversations you can hear around you. Listen to a customer expressing a complaint or asking to return an item.

Now put yourself in each person’s place. Think about how you would handle the situation if you were the customer. And then if you were the service representative. Identify any problems in communication. What would you change?

Here are some tips that might help in tough situations, especially when people you’re dealing with — or working with — might lose their tempers.

  1. Don’t react immediately. Allow a cooling-off period.
  2. Don’t say anything you will regret later. Think before you speak.
  3. Don’t get into a shouting match. Keep an even tone.
  4. Don’t make it personal. Stick to the facts.
  5. Don’t stoop to another’s level. Be gracious in the face of adversity.
  6. Don’t talk behind anyone’s back. Rise above it.

It’s not always easy to get along with others, especially in high-pressure situations — such as on deadline. But a positive outcome has everything to do with how people interact with one another. And, too, you never know who might be listening in on your conversation.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

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