Monday, August 8, 2011

Make Your Enemy Your Friend

I had a discussion today with customer service rep, which turned into an argument within minutes. I had a dispute over the service, and they were wanting to collect. I tried to explain my perspective on the dispute and what I was willing to do. She kept cutting me off after one sentence or half-sentence. I soon started saying, "Let me finish!" with the result in no change in behavior. Finally, I hung up. Instead of coming to an agreement, I'm going to start digging in my heels on my original position, with no compromise.

Maybe that's what happens in Washington.

When I first became responsible for negotiating warranty claims on building materials, early in my career, I was taught an important lesson. First, ask what they expect to happen. I was told I'd be surprised at how low the expectations are, that most people are quite reasonable and understanding as to how they could have ended up in this poor situation. Many of those times, they were asking less than we were willing to offer. If they were nice, I'd tell them that we'd exceed their expectations, especially if the contractor was involved. I knew that if I made his customer happy, he'd be a happy customer of ours.

If the demands were unreasonable, I could explain what I could do. If the contractor thought I was being fair, reasonable, and responsible for our part of the situation, he'd be my ally in the negotiation. If the customer was still unreasonable, he too was willing to lose the person to someone else's business. Let his competitor have the headache.

Max Lucado says, "Until you are able to call your enemy your friend, a jail door is closed and a prisoner is taken. But when you open the door and release your foe from your hatred, then the prisoner is released and that prisoner is you."

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