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This tweet from a colleague trapped on an airplane just popped up on my TweetDeck: “2 [airline] trips in a week. Hands down the rudest, stupidest policies in the industry. Not that their leaders notice nor care. No more 4 me.”

Tomorrow there’ll be another complaint—well-deserved or not.  We hear often that customers have high expectations. “Turn customers into raving fans or your competitors will lure them away.”

In fact, some situations almost become adversarial:  Have you ever heard this disparaging remark about someone who is over-the-top enthusiastic about an idea: “He sounds like a used-car salesman.”  Ever had a sales clerk approach you with the line, “May I help you?” to which you’ve automatically responded, “No, I’m just looking,” driving away the dejected salesperson as if she had leprosy.

Hearing such comments and tweets about sales professionals can create fear of facing your own customers.  That’s why many small business owners often excel in their field of expertise—but can’t make a “go” of their business; they actually fear meeting and interacting with new clients.  With that fear of rejection, communicating with customers can become a real challenge—whether a service provider, business development manager, or administrator who “follows up” after the sale. 

Here’s a recent email from a blog reader:

Hi, Dianna,

This might be out of the ordinary, but I am a quiet, shy person.  And I have been told several times, “You need to loosen up.”  I manage a business and am slack in communicating with customers because I believe I fear rejection with customers.  Any suggestions for me?

Edgar

Edgar,

Congratulations on two fronts:  Realizing the importance of communicating with customers and identifying your natural shyness and wanting to overcome it. 

Actually, shyness is not all that uncommon (I’m shy myself and have always had to work to overcome it).  I don’t know of anyone who enjoys rejection.  But as you imply, the goal is learning how to respond to rejection (or the perception of rejection).

You didn’t say what business you’re in, and of course that will make a difference in specifics I could give you about handling rejection. So let’s address the issue in more general terms.

Approach your customers with this mindset:  I am here to serve my customers.  I can give them great value.  They’re going to love what I can offer them. They’re going to think it’s a good product/service at a fair price.  Occasionally, I’ll run into a few customers who give me a hard time—for any number of reasons:  1) Either they’re a jerk.  2) Or they’ve had a hard day and are taking it out on me. They’ll be embarrassed tomorrow but not enough to come back and apologize.  3) Or they’re unethical and “put one over on me” this time, but I’ll make note of it and won’t let it happen again.  4) Or they’re too stupid to understand what they doing or saying, in which case I should just let it go and not waste my time arguing.

Then make up your mind that you’ll not let those “occasional few” keep you from communicating with and serving the other 99 percent of customers who appreciate what you have to offer.

So much for the general mindset.  Now let me add one specific:  Psych yourself up to communicate with customers one person at a time. Don’t think of your customers as a group.

They are individuals. Meet them one on one. Shake hands. Look them in the eye. Ask about their family.  Ask about their business.  Ask how you can help them with their current challenge—and mean it.  Focus on them and a year from now you won’t remember why you ever wrote me this email!

To your success as you Communicate with Confidence®…

Dianna

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