Mediator At Large Prescribes Curiosity With Angry Shoppers
Want 2013 to be happier and more prosperous than 2012? Try shifting judgment to curiosity.
Conflict Management Specialist Jason Dykstra recently used an unpleasant encounter at the Staples Office Supply Store (complaining woman/impatient sales clerk) as an opportunity to reflect on our ability to up our people skills and happiness quotient by turning judgment into curiosity.
“This notion of curiosity,” he writes, “is one of the keys to being a great listener and communicator.”
It’s something that reminds us that we don’t know everything, it’s a reminder that we’re human. We don’t have all the answers and this judgement that we’re talking about can be our biggest weakness. What would happen to our relationships if we shifted our ears and minds from judgment to curiosity? How would that change our workplace? What new level would that take our relationship?
My mediation mentor, Ken Cloke, told me years ago that there’s a cry for help under every accusation. The instruction to answer that cry for help has done more to improve my commercial and personal life than any injunction since being told to love my enemies in Sunday School. This latter commandment being the most difficult to follow.
So what does it mean to shift judgment to curiosity and to answer the cry for help behind every accusation?
I’ll take Jason’s example of the woman standing in front of you in line at a retail store complaining bitterly about prices. The clerk, instead of rolling his eyes at the man next in line, could have asked himself why this woman was so bitterly complaining, after which one simple open-ended question might have opened up a fruitful conversation, not to mention the creation of a genuine human relationship, no matter how fleeting.
What about the prices strikes you as so costly? could have led to any of the following responses:
Office Depot is selling these note pads at half price (good information for any retailer and a chance to match the price, assuring repeat patronage).
I just opened a business and had no idea office supplies would cost so much – as an employee, I was used to getting them for free (creating a good opportunity to create a business account encouraging repeat business from a new customer).
I lost my job last month and everything seems too expensive (leading to a conversation about the woman’s experience, education and skills which might stir either the clerk or the guy standing behind her in line to suggest she offer her services to someone they know is looking for help).
Continue reading at the ForbesWoman She Negotiates Blog.