Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

What Happened: Customer Support Conversations

This letter was received in response to a question Kerry Patterson answered in the June 15, 2011 Crucial Skills Newsletter titled, “Surviving Customer Support Conversations.”

Dear Kerry,

Your response to my question was very useful and helped me resolve the problem. I am very hot-tempered and I have always had a “ready-fire-aim” approach when trying to deal with customer service issues. After reading your article, I thought back to my past communication with this company and realized where I was too quick to jump to violence and not at all receptive to what people were trying to tell me. During the next couple of calls, I applied the good advice you shared to resolve the issue. For example, I reminded myself that the person on the other end of the line does not set the policies and most likely is powerless to change them. Also, I made sure to think about what I really wanted.

I have since had two other situations (with other companies) where I needed to contact customer service and found the issues much easier and faster to resolve. I am satisfied that the reason for the successful interactions is because I stopped and thought before dialing. I thought first about mastering my story: even though I have had bad experiences in the past that does not mean this experience has to be the same. I then thought about what I really wanted to do—get answers to my questions—and made a deliberate effort to speak politely and factually in order to accomplish my objective.

I found the closing points of your article interesting. As I mentioned, I am hot-tempered, I come from a long line of hot-heads, and surprisingly we all have issues with cholesterol and blood pressure. I have enough cholesterol issues, so I am going to make an extra effort to handle myself better during these calls, so I do not contribute to my existing health concerns.

Thank you for your excellent response to my question.

Frustrated Customer

Editor’s Note: If you would like to share similar feedback about how the authors’ advice has helped you, please e-mail us at

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