By Arlene Taveroff, PhD
I was on the phone with an airline agent, rebooking a flight I had cancelled. “I’m sorry” said the agent, “you have fly out by tomorrow to use those points.” Holy cow, I was about to lose 40,000 points! My impulse was to argue and be very persistent about what I wanted.
Instead after a quick “Are you sure?” I went into relationship mode, looked at the situation from the other point of view and empathized with the agent. I commented on how well he was doing his job, and how difficult it must be for him to have to tell people they’re losing their points. Then I went on to explain that I felt really bad, because out of genuine ignorance, I was about to lose a lot of points, and along with it, my vacation plans. “Isn’t there anything you can do to help me?”
Yes! He came to my rescue, and passed me to an agent named Sonia who was specially trained for these kinds of situations. “Hi Sonia, I’m Arlene. I understand you’re the expert in handling difficult situations.” And I went on to explain my situation, ending with “Is there any way you can help me?”
“No problem” she said, “We can book you on a flight for tomorrow, and cancel it right away; then you have until next year at this time to use the points.” Done! Issue resolved.
Show appreciation, ask questions, let the other person play hero and you will gain cooperation.