In the last issue of Engaging Ideas, we were discussing the fine line between offering an honest opinion, and being brutal with the truth. We also discovered how describing your emotions to a prospect can be a highly effective way to streamline your communication, and prevent breakdowns in understanding.
There is, however, at least one emotion that requires a little more clarification: anger. Anger can be frightening, even if the person who's angry is merely reporting the emotion rather than demonstrating it. Why? Because anger is a secondary emotion, not a primary one. Therefore, anger does not reveal the whole truth.
At least once in every seminar I conduct, someone describes a situation in which they have been very angry with a customer or prospect. I'm willing to bet you've also experienced times when you've been angry with a customer, frustrated by their actions or upset at their behaviour towards you.
Anger is one of the most sensitive emotions to address and communicate, because it often comes with the perception that you're being emotional or out of control. The advice we give our clients when they find themselves becoming angry is to try to be as honest as possible, and to focus on solutions and options - not on laying blame.
Three options for expressing anger
If you're concerned about how to express your anger with your customers, ask yourself which of the following three options would be most likely to yield the best results:
The first option is to deny that you're angry. The problem is, this seldom fools anyone. More importantly, denying anger breaks down trust by making people feel deceived. Remember, most of us are lousy actors, and most of our customers are smart people. Unless your name is Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep, odds are, they'll have a pretty good idea that they're not being told the truth.
The second option is to acknowledge the anger by saying something like: "Yes, I am very angry." This is preferable to denial, but it can still make the person you're speaking with feel uneasy. Why? Because you're still not stating the whole truth about the real cause of your anger.
The third option is the simplest, and also the most effective: acknowledge your anger and verbalize the complete truth. Here's an example: "Yes, I'm angry and upset by this decision, because it means that we won't have enough resources to do the job we agreed to do for you. I'm afraid that if the decision stands, it will negatively affect the outcome of your project, and our future relationship." This way, you're not only being truthful in what you say. You're also allowing others to see what is truly fuelling your anger, so that they will have a better idea of what they can do to help.
Just the Facts
In the final analysis, expressing anger comes down to the same principles that govern the expression of any other emotion: the fine line between honesty and brutality can be walked successfully only by remembering that a customer does not need - or want - to hear all your opinions and perspectives. To stay on the right side of the line, it's important that we recognize and verbalize our emotions, but not dwell on them. Successful salespeople understand that they achieve the best results when they limit their communication to the facts and how they feel about them - not their opinions and perceptions.
About the Author:
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.