10 Ways to Reverse the Momentum of an Overly Aggressive or Hostile Person

FACT: You will encounter challenging people.

They might come in the form of strangers.
They might come in the form of customers.
They might EVEN come in the form of colleagues or friends!

They will try to overpower you.
They will try to intimidate you.
They will try to get a rise out of you.

They will make blunt or rude comments.
They will ask pointed or threatening questions.
They will attempt to activate your defensiveness.

And you will have a choice.

To either REACT:

By getting upset, overly emotional or defensive.

Which is exactly what they want.

Because deep down, they know that’s the only way they can beat you.


By reversing their momentum.

Which is the exact opposite of what they’re expecting.

Because deep down, they know that if you refuse to take ownership of their emotions, they’re toast.

Kind of like the playground bully, whose ONLY power comes from other kids’ fear of him.

So, next time you face a challenging person, remember:

The key is to relax.
The key is to lower the temperature of the situation.
The key is to remain emotionally unreactive, yet still invested in the conversation.

IN SHORT: If you want to reverse someone’s momentum, it’s all about patience and language.

Today we’re going to explore a list of 10 Phrases That Payses to positively change the dynamic of a conversation with an overly aggressive or hostile person:

1. You’re right. This phrase allows you to enter into another person’s reality. It shows an open mindedness to different opinions and redirects the conversation into a productive direction.

It also acknowledges someone else’s unique point of view. Ultimately, these four results are empathetic and help diffuse emotionally charged individuals.

2. You may be right. Similar to the above example, this phrase diffuses the energy behind someone’s attack AND avoids threatening the attacker. And by giving an impression of active agreement, not passive acquiescence, it avoids adding fuel to the fire.

What’s more, “You may be right” validates a particular part of someone’s argument. Which doesn’t mean you TOTALLY agree with her. But, it does make it easier for the other person to hear your side of the story by way of reciprocation.

3. I agree with you. Similarly, this phrase “agrees with thy adversary quickly,” as the old scripture suggests. It builds common ground on a point of mutual agreement and aligns you with the other person. That way, you’re both on the same side.

Which is how resistance dissipates. Which makes moving toward a solution flow a LOT smoother.

4. Why is that so important to you? This gem is especially effective when someone shoots down EVERY idea you suggest. It identifies a person’s motives and challenges them to honesty examine their emotions, which, if they’ve lashed out at you, probably isn’t something they’ve done yet.

5. Why do you want to know so badly? Similarly, this phrase helps uncover the motivations of someone who seems bit too persistent. Maybe even bordering on pushy.

For example, if a person you’ve just met asks you LOTS of probing questions on the same topic, or constantly asks you the same question over and over again, maybe it’s time to step back and ask why.

6. You must be having a really bad day. Unexpected and empathetic. Demonstrates concern, especially with an irate customer. Also, this phrase assures that you don’t take ownership of the other person’s problem. This ultimately allows them to cool off and approach their situation in a calm, collected manner.

7. I forgive you. When someone is flustered, running late or apologizing profusely, using these three words is almost like a magic tonic. Especially when it’s with a stranger.

See, the peaceful, tender and caring energy of “I forgive you” is incredibly powerful. And observing the way people respond when you say, “I forgive you” is a GREAT mini-lesson in momentum reversal.

8. Thank you. When someone brings a problem or complaint to your attention, make sure the first words out of your mouth are “Thank you,” and not “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry” is negative and self-blaming, and people say it WAY too often. Especially when they’ve done nothing wrong. Now, responding by thanking someone doesn’t mean you’re evading responsibility. If an apology is in order, say it. Just don’t LEAD with it. Instead, after you’ve thanked (aka, honored) the upset person, only THEN say, “I apologize,” or “I’m sorry. You deserve better.”

9. I respect your opinion of my work. My all-time favorite. Perfect for artists and creative professionals. See, if everybody loves your brand, you’re doing something wrong! Likewise, if everybody loves your idea, it’s probably not that good of an idea. So, next time someone expresses a dislike for your work – especially in an attempt to fluster, insult or embarrass you – do three things.

First, pause.
Second, breathe and smile.
Third, tell the person, “I respect your opinion of my work.”

Take it from someone whose work has been made fun of A LOT. I can (almost) guarantee you people will NEVER see THAT one coming! And as a result, you’ll not only leave them with nowhere to go; but you’ll project an attitude of open mindedness and acceptance. Jerks.

10. Silence. Lastly, sometimes the best way to reverse the momentum of an overly aggressive or hostile person is to say nothing at all. To just shut up and let them vent. See, in many cases, that’s all they WANTED: someone to listen to them. To honor them. Or, in some cases, that’s all they NEEDED: someone to serve as a sounding board so they could hear how absurd their words actually were!

In either case, not responding (at all) to someone’s aggression lowers the temperature of the conversation and allows that person to compose himself.

NOTE: Silence is an extremely challenging approach for both parties. See, we live in a hyperspeed; A.D.D. culture where time is money and “the meter is running.” That’s one reason people are so afraid of silence. At the same time, however, that’s ALSO why silence can be so powerful.

– – –

Whichever of the Phrases That Payses you choose to use, remember your mantra: Respond; don’t react.

Combine that foundation with an attitude of patience and calmness, and you’ll be able to reverse the momentum of an overly aggressive or hostile person!

Of course, that’s only (my) short list. What about YOU?

What Phrases That Payses work when you’re trying to reverse the momentum of someone?

Share your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

How are you branding YOUR service?

Tune in to The Frontline on NametagTV.com.

Watch video lessons delivering memorable unforgettable service!

8 Ways to Avoid Conversational Narcissism

Forget yourself and submit to the other person.

That’s the BIG challenge of listening.

To check your ego.
To relinquish you agendas.
To suspend your preoccupation.

Unfortunately, it’s dangerously easy for people to fall into the trap of Conversational Narcissism.

Especially when they’re too busy.

Too busy trying to contribute.
Too busy trying to prove themselves.
Too busy trying impose their own agenda.
Too busy trying to take ownership of someone else’s ideas.

Today we’re going to explore 8 practices to help you avoid Conversation Narcissism so you can continue to grow bigger ears!

1. Watch your intent. First, beware of listening for selfish reasons. In fact, ask yourself this: Why are you listening? Could it be…

Listening to give advice?
Listening to change people?
Listening to hear yourself talk?
Listening to control the conversation?
Listening to appear like a good listener?
Listening to find your opportunity to steal the stage take over?

Or, are you listening to understand, learn and help? The choice is yours.

2. Switch the spotlight. Give THEM the glory. REMEMBER: Listening isn’t about you. And your words need to reinforce that principle. So, try these Phrases That Payses after you’ve finished making a comment:

o “And you…?”
o “Have you had similar experiences?”
o “Is it the same in your industry?”
o “What about yourself?”
o “What’s YOUR philosophy on that?”

3. Silently check yourself. In the back of your mind (while still listening, of course), find a way to keep yourself accountable. Consider using QREATIVITY by asking silent self-assessment questions like:

o Am I granting others space to talk?
o Am I listening or controlling the conversation?
o Am I listening or trying to fix?
o Am I listening or waiting to talk?
o What questions wants to be asked next?
o Will this comment disrupt or contribute?

4. Don’t add too much value. Trust in your ability to add value AFTER (not during) the listening process. Resist the temptation to hijack the conversation by matching or one-upping people’s points, or by trying to solve the problem too quickly.

A great practice to remind you of this principle is to post listening reminders on sticky notes by your desk and phone. Examples might include:

a. Listening, not solving.
b. Don’t add (too much) value!
c. Listen, don’t fix.
d. Listeners don’t bulldoze!
e. Three seconds before responding.
f. Two ears, one mouth!

Check out the complete list of 38 Listening Reminders!

5. Open the space. Part of your role as the listener is to make room (both physically and emotionally) in the conversation. Your best practice for this principle is the strategic use of silence. This lets the other person fill in the empty spaces AND enables him to set the pace of the conversation.

The challenge, of course, is that most Conversational Narcissists don’t like silence. They talk for the sake of talking. As if silence made them look weak and indecisive.

Nope. Silence is strength. And “silence is golden” because it helps the other person articulate their most precious emotions. So, your goal is to become more comfortable with silence. Here’s why:

o The more you practice silence alone, the more comfortable you will be during silence with others.
o The more comfortable you are during silence with others, the less likely you are to feel the need to fill the space.
o The less you feel the need to fill the space, the more open the atmosphere becomes.
o The more open the atmosphere becomes, the more likely the other person is to share her authentic feelings, concerns and questions.

6. Be mindful of ownership. Don’t take over people’s problems. That’s not your job. And that’s (probably) not why they came to you. Instead, provide support so they can safely process their own thoughts and eventually formulate their own solutions. In so doing, you show the other person respect and reinforce their ability to manage their own lives. Use Phrases That Payses like:

o “What do you think is the best option?”
o “What does your gut tell you?”
o “What outcome would be optimal in this situation?”
o “What are you going to do about it?”

7. Listening is NOT a performance. Listening is about temporarily suspending your need for self-expression. So, don’t use what people say as triggers for your own jokes. Listening takes, among many things, self-control. One of my favorite rules is: Acknowledge, then shut up! SO REMEMBER: Take in; don’t take over.

8. Recognize and return. Notwithstanding the first seven suggestions on this list, it’s still nearly impossible to avoid ALL traces of conversational narcissism. So, the secret is to recognize when you feel yourself being pulled into narcissistic territory. That way you can correct it, then pass the conversation back to the other person. Consider using these Phrases That Payses:

a. “I’ve been doing most of the talking, so let me stop now and just listen.”
b. “Enough from me, what about you?”
c. “I’m sorry; I’ve been talking too much!”

Ultimately, Conversational Narcissism boils down to this simple idea:

Listening isn’t about you.

It’s about forgetting yourself and submitting to the other person.

So, check your ego. Relinquish you agendas. And suspend your preoccupation.

Start growing bigger ears today!

How do you avoid Conversational Narcissism?

Share your best practice for Growing Bigger Ears here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

…only 14 more days until NametagTV.com goes ON AIR!

Clarify the type of conversation you’re having

One of the primary tasks of Growing Bigger Ears is to guide the conversation into focus.

To help the speaker clarify what type of conversation she wants to have with you.

You do this for three reasons:

FIRST, clarify to … open up the space.
People need to feel free and relaxed in your presence. So, by first negotiating the space between you, you make it safe to share. This builds a foundation of comfort and approachability that endures throughout the entire encounter.

SECOND, clarify to … to set expectations.
Without an initial understanding of your conversational objectives, you’ll never know whether or not you and your partner were successful. So, think of this practice as sort of a mini-goal for creating a harmonious climate.

THIRD, clarify to … establish boundaries.
Listening is a process of suspending your own agenda in the service of the speaker. So, when you know what your respective roles are – and what areas are off limits – you prevent yourself AND the speaker from wasting emotional energy.

OK! Now that you understand the value of clarifying, let’s explore five questions you can pose to help the speaker guide the conversation into focus:

1. What needs to happen during this conversation for you to feel that it was successful?
2. What type of conversation do you want this to become?
3. Do you want me to suggest ideas or just listen?
4. Is this a dialogue or a discussion?
5. How would you like me to listen to you?

CAUTION: be sure to pause for at least three seconds after every question AND answer. Let the pearl sink.

REMEMBER: when you clarify the conversation by asking future-focused, positive questions, you not only open up the space, set expectations and establish boundaries; but you also demonstrate your willingness to move forward together.

And that’s what approachability is all about.

When you’re The Listener, what questions do you ask yourself?

Share your best two questions here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

…only 21 more days until NametagTV.com goes ON AIR!

Don’t take this wrong way, but…

Framing is everything.

So, when approaching your staff, employees, volunteers or members, be careful of using “Kill Phrases.”

These types of setup comments negatively influence and/or negate whatever comes out of your mouth next.

For example:

1. “With all due respect…”

PROBLEM: people use this as a Get Out of Jail Free Card. A conversational passport to say whatever they want. As if insulting someone is OK if you say this first.

SILENT DIALOG: Oh, great. I bet he’s going to say something disrespectful to me next…

2. “Don’t get defensive…”

PROBLEM: mentioning the mere idea of defensiveness usually causes it.

SILENT DIALOG: Yeah right! Now I probably WILL get defensive about what she says next!

3. “Let me give you some advice…”

PROBLEM: this assumes superiority, even when advice wasn’t requested.

SILENT DIALOG: Um, did I ask for your advice?

4. “Try not to take this personally…”

PROBLEM: creates immediate self-consciousness.

SILENT DIALOG: How can I NOT take this personally?

5. “Don’t take this the wrong way…”

PROBLEM: puts people on the defensive.

SILENT DIALOG: Yep, here comes the insult…

6. “I’m only telling you this for your own good…”

PROBLEM: based on the assumption that the other person KNOWS what’s good for you.

SILENT DIALOG: My own good, or YOUR own comfort?

* * * *

SO REMEMBER: framing is everything.

If you can avoid these Kill Phrases, you will be sure to lay a foundation of approachability for the people you lead.

What other Kill Phrases should you avoid?

Post your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Enjoy this post?

If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Approachable Service: As long as I’m here

Companies who GET talked about GET business.

That’s why you need to differentiate with remarkable service.

See, in a market with infinite choices, the only thing that stands out in customers’ minds … is something cool.

Something unexpected.

Something worth talking about.

Because (unfortunately) … nobody notices normal.

SO, HERE’S THE KEY: seek to create insistent – not just satisfied or loyal – customers for life.

One suggestion is to add value to an otherwise mundane and commoditized service you already provide.

I suggest trying the “As long as I’m here…” technique.

PICTURE THIS: you own a tech support business.

One day, a new customer calls with a virus problem.

Naturally, you send your on-site technician to her office.

He fixes the glitch, the customer gladly signs the bill and everybody is satisfied.

Satisfied. Not loyal. Not insistent. Satisfied.


Right before your technician leaves the customer’s office, he says, “Hey, as long as I’m here, I’d be happy to clean all the monitors and keyboards in your office … no extra charge! It’ll only take a few minutes.”

“Really? Wow, that would be great!” the customer says. “Our hardware could use a good cleaning!”

And all of the sudden, an otherwise mundane task like tech support transforms into a value-added experience that customers start talking about.

Think about it. When was the last time you came home from work and said:

“Honey, get the kids! You won’t believe what happened at work today! The tech support guy came by the office fixed that virus problem we were having!”

Your family would think you were nuts.

Now, on the other hand, if the technician fixed the problem, then REALLY DID clean all the monitors and keyboards in your office, you probably WOULD tell people about it.

Because nobody does stuff like that.

AND THAT’S THE SECRET: because when it comes to approachable service…

The stuff nobody does … is the stuff your customer LOVES.

And even at the lowest common denominator, the “As long as I’m here” technique should be implemented solely because nobody else does it! That’s reason enough.

Try a new one every week! See how customers respond.

Odds are, your front line will discover that when you build value-added remarkability into the service experience, three things happen:

1. You get noticed.
2. You get remembered.
3. And eventually, you start to get more business.

But only when you stick yourself out there.

Are making the mundane memorable?

Make a list of five mundane, on-site customer services your company provides. Then, spend some time with your team brainstorming different ways your technicians could finish the sentence, “As long as I’m here…”

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott’s Brain!
Download articles and ebooks!
Watch training videos on NametagTV!

Make a name for yourself here…

Approachable Service: The Touchpoint Trinity

Your first impression is only 1/3 of the battle.

WHICH MEANS: simply greeting customers at the front door is NOT enough.

For that reason, always remember THE TOUCHPOINT TRINITY:

FIRST impressions. These lay a foundation for the service process. These frame the entire customer experience. They take between five and ten seconds, but last nearly forever.

ONGOING impressions. These either reinforce or diminish customers’ initial judgments. Throughout the entire service process, they cause customers to either (keep) checking you on, or check you off.

LASTING impressions. These create farewell feelings that stay with customers until their next visit. They cause them to: 1) tell nobody, 2) tell a few people, or 3) tell EVERYBODY … about their service experience (good OR bad.)

So, how do you achieve success all throughout the Touchpoint Trinity?

ONE WORD OF ADVICE: consistency.

“Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness,” as my company motto states.

THAT is the key to Approachable Service. And it’s the result of focusing your efforts on all three components of The Touchpoint Trinity.


If you want to create FANS, (not just customers)…

Whose experiences are UNFORGETTABLE, (not just memorable)…

So they become INSISTENT, (not just satisfied or loyal)…

Sit down with your team and conduct the following exercise:

1. Organize. Divide a sheet of blank paper into three columns. From left to right, title them “First, “Ongoing” and “Last.”

2. Brainstorm. List all the possible Daily Touchpoints within each category. Examples might include “greeting,” “order taking,” “handling complaints,” “checking out,” “paying the bill,” and “final words as customers exit.” (You’ll probably have around 10-20 touchpoints in all.)

3. Imagine. Now, multiply the total number of Daily Touchpoints by your total number of employees. Then multiply that number by 250. The final result is your Annual Touchpoint Total. (This will help you understand the volume of your accumulated actions!)

4. Accentuate. For each of the components in your Touchpoint Trinity, think of two new ways to make the mundane memorable. Brainstorm techniques, Phrases That Payses, ideas, procedures and fun ways to approach your customers in every possible situation. Remember to keep your approaches positive, friendly, fun, unexpected, and most importantly, unique.

5. Brand. The last step is to formally brand your service. For example, take Disney, Ritz Carlton and FedEx. Each of these companies’ unique approach to service is SO good that other companies steal it!

Who’s stealing YOUR service philosophy?

If the answer is “Nobody … yet,” then this is your chance!

Create Service Philosophy Cards explaining your unique approach to all areas of your Touchpoint Trinity. Print 500 of them for every employee! Staple one to every receipt! Scatter them about your office, hotel or property. Over time, your philosophy will spread.

And with these exercises, you will be able to maintain consistency in your first, ongoing AND lasting impressions.

AND REMEMBER: if you can understand, improve and consistently brand your company’s Touch Point Trinity…

Customers won’t (just) be satisfied.

Customers won’t (just) be loyal.

They’ll be insistent.

Who is stealing YOUR service philosophy?

In addition to satisfaction and loyalty, remember to focus on insistence.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott’s interview on 20/20!

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post

Stop saying sorry

People say sorry WAY too often.

Especially when they didn’t do anything wrong.

For example, have you even apologized to someone:

For your art?
For the weather?
For your identity?
For being candid?
For being yourself?
For telling the truth?
For following your dream?
For it being your first day?
For crying during a movie?
For taking too long in line?
For not believing what they believed?


HERE’S THREE WORDS OF ADVICE: stop saying sorry.

Sorry is negative.
Sorry is self-blaming.
Sorry comes from the word sarig, or “distressed, full of sorrow.”

Not to mention, most sorries come in the form of lame, empty promises with no intention of changing behavior.

And yet, people still over apologize. Usually for a few reasons:

1. FOR MOST PEOPLE, because it’s habitual.
They’re just used to saying sorry. They’ve never paused to think about the negative ramifications of saying it too often.

2. FOR MANY PEOPLE, because they’re afraid of offending someone.
They walk on eggshells on a daily basis due to our hypersensitive, fear-saturated culture.

3. FOR SOME PEOPLE, because they have low self-esteem.
They don’t have a positive enough picture of themselves. Thus, everything they do is wrong and necessitates an apology.

For example, I have a friend (let’s call her Kim) who can’t seem to stop saying sorry.

Whenever she returns my calls, the FIRST words out of her mouth are always, “Sorry I didn’t get your call, I was in the shower and I…”

Sorry? You were bathing! Are you apologizing for having good hygiene?

SIMPLE RULE: don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything wrong.

Now, this doesn’t mean that apologizing is wrong.

When you mess up, fess up.

The challenge is to reprogram yourself with a more positive attitude.

Here’s a list of six keys for Sorry-Free Living:

1. Spread the message. Next time someone says sorry to you, tell her, “Don’t say sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong.” By spreading this message to others, you will also spread it to yourself.

2. Record. Just for fun, count how many times you hear the word sorry in a week. Then count how many of them were unnecessary. It will shock you.

3. Validate. Now, pay closer attention every time YOU say sorry. Evaluate whether or not it was a valid apology by asking yourself two questions, “Did I really do anything wrong?” and “Was this situation out of my control?”

4. Brainstorm. Make a list of the five most common situations people say unnecessary sorries. Then write two alternative responses for each. For example, instead of saying, “Sorry this is taking so long,” substitute, “Thanks for putting up with me!” and “We’re almost done!”

5. Apologize. When you DO screw up, don’t say sorry. Say, “I apologize.” It comes off more sincere, more approachable and less self-blaming.

6. Remind. During your daily appointment with yourself, affirm, “I refuse to apologize for who I am,” “I only apologize when I’ve done something wrong,” and “I choose not to apologize when something is out of my control.”

Do you say sorry too often?

Finish the following sentence three times: “Don’t every say sorry for…”

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott’s interview on 20/20!

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post

8 phrases customers (don’t) want to hear you say

Your customers are tired.

Tired of terrible service.
Tired of getting the run around.
Tired of waiting in lines all morning.

Most importantly, they’re tired of hearing excuses.

THE GOOD NEWS: there IS a way to offer more approachable service!

Here is a list of eight phrases (er, excuses) your customers don’t want to hear; AND, several alternative phrases that payses you can use instead.

1. “I’m sorry.”

Sorry is negative.
Sorry is problem-oriented.
Sorry is usually followed by excuses.
Sorry is focused on the wrong person.
Sorry is sucks the positivity out of a conversation.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t over-apologize. Instead, consider framing your response differently.

“Thanks for telling me.”
“Thanks for bringing that to my attention.”
“That’s horrible!”
“I have no excuse. You’re right.”
“I apologize.”

2. “That’s not my job.”

Too many front line employees evade personal responsibility and professional accountability.

REMEMBER: part of your job is to reassure the customers.

That you’re on it.
That you’re taking ownership of the problem.
That you’re going to find a solution; even it’s not your job.

“I will personally take care of that.”
“I will take ownership of this problem.”
“And for future reference, the person who usually handles that problem is…”

3. “There’s nothing I can do,” or “I can’t.”

Negative language! No good.

Focus instead on what you CAN do. On solutions; not problems.

REMEMBER: there’s always something you can do; even if it simply means finding the right person to help.

“Good news!”
“You’re in luck!”
“Here’s what I CAN do.”
“Today’s your lucky day!”
“The best way for me to help you RIGHT NOW is…”

4. “I don’t know.”

That’s OK. You can’t know everything!

Still, you want to reassure your customer. So, remember to first lay a positive foundation and then reassure the customer that her problem will be addressed.

“Let me find out for you.”
“Let me look that up for you.”
“Good question! I’m not exactly sure, so let me ask someone who DOES know.”

5. “Our policy is…”

The mere mention of the word “policy” sends a chill down customers’ spines.

So, try shifting your verbiage to something more approachable.

“Our guidelines are…”
“In order to be fair to everybody.”
“Let me make an exception for you.”

6. “You’ll have to call someone else.”

This is called Punting. Passing the Buck. Evading Responsibility.

And customers are tired of it.

So, even if it’s not your job or area of expertise, you can still be of assistance.

“Here’s who you CAN call…”
“Let me connect you with George, he has the answer to your problem!”

7. “He’s not here.”

Especially if your goal is to achieve first call resolution, avoid this phrase!

Who knows? Maybe you can answer the question for a coworker who isn’t available.

Remember: we live in a fast-paced, hyperspeed, A.D.D culture. Customers want answers NOW!

“Steve’s unavailable right now, but MY name is Karen; is there anything I can do to help?”
“Steve’s out of the office right now, but is there a question I might be able to answer?”

8. “As soon as possible.”

ASAP. When I get a chance. When I get around to it.

All of these phrases make customers think, “Yeah right!”

You need to emit a sense of urgency, confidence and reassurance. Try these:

“Right away.”
“Give me fifteen seconds.”

NOTE: for a free, dowloadable copy of my ebook, 117 Phrases That Payses, go to www.hellomynameisscott.com, login if you’re a first-time friend, then scroll down to the “Free Ebooks” section.

What other phrases do customers (not) want to hear?

Post your alternative phrases that payses here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott’s interview on 20/20!

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post

Ask; don’t tell.

Sales calls.
Employee meetings.
Interviews with candidates.
Phone calls with the media.

Do you want to appear more approachable these type of situations?

Cool! Then, just remember three important words:

Ask; don’t tell.

Here’s why:

People don’t like to be told what to do.
People will remember something if they say it.
People will believe something if they say it.
People will learn something if they say it.

It brings to mind the words of Aristotle, who once said, “He who persuades me with my own words is the best.”

Ask; don’t tell.

Next, let’s explore the core differences between these two actions:


ASKING is curious.
TELLING is judgmental.

ASKING is generative language.
TELLING is retrospective language

ASKING is engaging.
TELLING is one-sided.


ASKING leads to goals.
TELLING leads to controls.

ASKING leads to listening.
TELLING leads to talking.

ASKING leads to dialogue.
TELLING leads to defensive responses.

ASKING leads to positive framing of a conversation.
TELLING leads to negative framing of a conversation.


ASKING shows that you trust others to develop their own answers.
TELLING shows that your answers are the only ones of importance.

ASKING uncovers information that helps you present your ideas in a highly customized manner.
TELLING overlooks information and assumes you already know what somebody needs.

OK. Let’s review:

You understand the value of asking, not telling.

You understand the difference between asking and telling.

Now it’s time to heighten the approachability of your language

Here are several examples of how to ASK instead of TELL:

1. DON’T SAY, “You should sit down and think about…”
DO ASK, “Have you ever thought about…?”

2. DON’T SAY, “I’m upset with you because…”
DO ASK, “Do you know why I’m upset with you?”

3. DON’T SAY, “You screwed up because…”
DO ASK, “Do you know where you went wrong?”

4. DON’T SAY, “Here’s why you need my product…”
DO ASK, “What are your biggest challenges with…?”

5. DON’T SAY, “Your viewers would love…”
DO ASK, “What are the major concerns of…?”

6. DON’T SAY, “I can’t believe you did that!”
DO ASK, “Is that what you were expecting to happen?”

7. DON’T SAY, “You should have been more successful!”
DO SAY, “What else would need to happen for you to accomplish your goal?”

Ask; don’t tell.

Do you ask more or tell more?

Think of the last time you had greater success asking, not telling. Share your story here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott’s interview on 20/20!

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post

Approachable Service: Avoid the First Word Farce

I pushed my shopping cart up to the counter.

“Good morning!” I said to the cashier.

I awaited my greeting.

And the first words out of her mouth were:

“Zip code please.”

Yes. That was her actual greeting.

Not “Hello.”
Not “How are ya?”
Not “Welcome to Office Depot!”

Zip code please.

Gee, thanks for the friendly greeting, I thought.

WARNING: This indicator of unapproachable service is called The First Word Farce. And here’s why it’s so crucial:

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal in February of 2006, you only have a few seconds to make an UNFORGETTABLE first impression.

A few seconds!

LESSON LEARNED: Greetings are GOLD because confidence is KING.

So, the challenge is: Which extreme of the unforgettable spectrum will you project?

Unfortunately, too many front line employees go the wrong way.

That is, they greet the customer according protocol. What THEY have to say, as opposed to what THE CUSTOMER wants to hear.

Examples include:

Next in line!
Paper or plastic?
Last name please!
Phone number with area code first…

You get the point.

A similar example that comes to mind is the local sandwich shop by my office.

When customers step up to the front counter, the first words out of the cashiers’ mouths are, “For here, or to go?”

Sometimes, they’ll even interrupt YOUR friendly greeting, just because they HAVE to ask that question first!

OK, so here’s the deal. If you’re a receptionist, cashier or any other front line employees AND want to avoid the First Word Farce, consider three ideas:

1. Brainstorm. Sit down (or have line-up) with your entire front line team. Challenge each employee to come up with three brand new, brand consistent greetings. Then, vote on which greetings you like best, and try them out for a week.

2. Field Research. Now that you understand the First Word Farce, the next step is to keep your eyes and ears open. Pay close attention to the first words used by other front lines employees when you’re the customer. Make note of how they made you feel. Ask yourself, “Would I want MY customers to be greeted that way?”

3. Think big picture. Whatever greeting you decide upon, just remember one thing: make it customer oriented.

Even if you’re in a rush.

Even if you need some information from a customer to begin the transaction.

There’s always time.

AND, there’s always room, too.

In that respect, Approachable Service is sort of like JELLO.

Because when you do it right, it’s not only sweet, it’s also satisfying.

Both for you AND the customer.

What’s your best tip for making an UNFORGETTABLE first impression?

Share it here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Download Scott’s new book!
Right here, right now, for FREE, no strings.

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post

Sign up for daily updates


Daily updates straight to your inbox.

Copyright ©2020 HELLO, my name is Blog!