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5 Ways to Get What You Want

By: , – Hillary Quinn, Family Circle
4/23/2013 12:00 PM   :  6 comments   :  9,479 Views

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Find yourself raising the white flag all too often when it comes to having your way? Whether you need more attention from your doctor or require approval from your boss to work from home, claiming victory could be easier than you think, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You (Morgan James Publishing). "The trick is not confusing assertiveness, which is expressing yourself in a kind manner, with aggressiveness, which is expressing yourself but not respecting others," she explains. Get it right, and you'll receive your heart's desire. Get it wrong, and you not only hit a roadblock, but the tension can cause everything from depression and lack of productivity to weight gain, colds and fatigue. We asked doctors, 800-number managers and even restaurant pros to find out how you can become a satisfied customer in the game of life. As the motto goes, it's not what you say but how you say it. 
 
At Home

The problem: It seems that no matter how many times you remind your kid, rules are being ignored. Your 11-year-old visited a neighborhood friend again without telling you where she was going; now you're seething.

The solution: Turn your kid into a problem-solver. "Don't hope that your yelling will make her understand how serious and important rules are and never do the behavior again," says psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting (Ballantine Books). Instead, give yourself a cooling-off period by telling your child: "I'm really mad right now, so let's talk about this tomorrow." Then, once you do chat, explain how fearful you are when you don't know where she is -- but resist the urge to list all the reasons you think it's dangerous. "Kids believe they're invincible, so bringing up a news story about a missing child isn't effective," says Cohen. A better tactic: Explain that you need to know she's safe and ask for her help in finding a solution that works for both of you. "You're opening the door to genuine dialogue, allowing your child to be part of the solution and bolstering her own need for independence," explains Cohen.
 
At Your Job

The problem: Working from home once a week would allow you to cut down on wasted commuting hours and bypass interruptions from colleagues. But you don't want your boss to think you're not a team player.

The solution: Sell your idea. "Most people believe communication is talking about what you want, but it's the opposite," says Corinne Gregory, author of It's Not Who You Know, It's How You Treat Them (Maestrowerks). Ask yourself, "What's in it for the other person?" Present your boss with the request and the resolution in one fell swoop. Don't begin with preambles like, "I've been giving this a lot of thought and struggling with the changes going on in my family life." Instead, be direct: "I want to take 15 minutes of your time and discuss working remotely once a week. I've got a plan that would increase my productivity, plus free up my desk for the Friday intern." Stop, and resist the urge to fill the silence with nervous chatter. Skip the let-me-help-you-walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes speech. A smarter script: "I want to give 100% at work." "That they understand," says Gregory. "At the end of the day, the boss's goal is for you to get the job done."
 
On the Phone

The problem: Your flight was delayed, you missed your connection and the airline lost your luggage. You call customer service and get caught in automated-phone-system hell.

The solution: Kill 'em with kindness. "I deal with not-nice callers all day long, so it's the nice callers who get me to stand up and take notice," explains Stephanie Hensel, a customer-service rep who answers hundreds of calls each day. Using your best please-help-me-I'm-a-wounded-soul voice, try something like: "Hi, Stephanie, this is Janet Smith. I'm so frustrated, but I'm really hoping you can help me today." Let the employee know that you understand she did not cause the problem. Then, carefully explain your situation, knowing in advance what you'd like the outcome to be. (You might ask for more than you want to leave room for some negotiation.) Recently stranded by the airline? Get reimbursed for that lost luggage and score some free miles for your pain and suffering. Mailed a package that never arrived? Ask the company to re-send it and eat the overnight shipping fee, plus snag a 10% credit for the hassle. Setting a goal gives you a road map for the conversation and prevents the call from becoming a futile venting session. Then allow the rep a bit of time to actually do her job. If you're told you'll hear back within 24 hours, don't hang up and call another rep 4 hours later. If you can't get a human being on the phone, try this backdoor strategy from Shelly Rosa, call center manager at QCI Direct's Home Trends catalog. Dial the main company number and hit a random extension using the line, "Hi, I got stuck in the customer-service loop and was sent to you. Can you help me?" Finally, if you're hitting the wall and need a supervisor, skip the barking command (they'll just pre-warn their superior that you're a pill) and try this ploy instead: "Maybe you could switch me to a supervisor so you could continue to help other customers."
 
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Comments

  • JMPOULIOT
    6
    I agree with some of the comments about having to be negative towards customer services. I too don't receive solutions when I am kind and nice instead I get the run-around. I think it is sad that I have to turn into a Bi#%! and throw a tantrum in order to get what I need from customer service. - 4/29/2013   12:26:48 PM
  • 5
    I try to be nice to the customer service reps (techs, usually) and always start out nice, but the main place I have to call ALL THE TIME they just totally lie to the customers. I normally will ask to speak to a supervisor right away. That way I don't have to listen to the lies and the tech who doesn't know what the answer really is. I had to learn from SparkPeople what the ISP was doing and when I tried to talk to the techs about it they had never heard of it, supposedly, even though it is written in their policies.

    I prefer to be nice to people since that is the way I prefer to be treated. But contacting customer service reps seems to backfire because they think that I am too stupid to know what I am talking about. - 4/25/2013   12:42:59 PM
  • 4
    I usually try to get customer service reps on my side. I say something like, I understand how it is, all that fun red tape...or something along those lines. I find that humor usually puts them at ease and makes them want to help me. If I still don't get a resolution, I ask lots of questions (very nicely but firmly). My favorites are "help me understand that" or "can you explain the reason for that?" Sometimes they get annoyed & just give you your way so they don't have to keep answering. :) You also get a better understanding of what's going on. - 4/24/2013   11:14:13 AM
  • 3
    I'm nice to customer service representatives, but I've got to tell you, being nice never got me anywhere. When I've been nice I've gotten the middle seat by the toilet on overbooked flights, told that I'll have to pay a service fee for something, told that they just can't help me fill a prescription, etc. because I've been nice and friendly and agreeable. The couple of times I've absolutely lost it and been rude or started crying is when I've gotten someone to actually go above and beyond to help me out - sure, it's because they just want to get rid of me, but my attempts at politeness and kindness usually lead to me being blown off. - 4/23/2013   5:44:33 PM
  • 2
    Another reason to be nice to the customer service rep who answers your frustrated call: he or she is a fellow human being and deserves kindness by default. Yes, you want the problem resolved and it's great to get little "extras," but treating others with respect is just the right thing to do, even if they can't give you anything. - 4/23/2013   1:41:38 PM
  • 1
    The telecommuting request -- so true. It's not that I have no sympathy for the difficulties in "balancing work and home life." But as a manager I don't want to hear that you're telecommuting so you can simultaneously take care of your child. Chances are pretty good that either your child or your work is getting short-shrifted, and I don't want it to be either.
    - 4/23/2013   1:06:02 PM

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