How to Voice Your Opinion & Be Heard Without Your Blood Pressure Rising
We both like to voice our opinions and will do so if we feel it’s justified. However, we allow a lot to slide to avoid confrontation, hurt feelings, stomachs in knots or rising blood pressure. We try to do so with calm and grace.
But….when a steak we ask to have cooked medium rare may have been cooked too well done, we voice our distaste. Worse might be sharing it with a server and having the wait person offer an excuse: “Oh, our chef isn’t feeling so well tonight,” or “We’re sorry but we don’t want to serve undercooked meat.” You eat it and pay the $38. Not cheap. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You think, “That’s the last time I’ll eat here.” Listening to a patron and offering a more empathetic response, not an excuse, would have helped soften disappointment. You might even have gone back.
When we’re upset and not heard, the situation can escalate. It takes the self-control of a middle-school teacher. Breathe. Remain in control. When Barbara spoke up about how the payment procedure at her favorite spa had changed—charge cards were no longer accepted, not just preferred--she registered her chagrin to the person in charge. Instead of listening to the complaint, the manager became defensive and started to argue that it benefited the staff. That’s nice, Barbara felt, but what about the client who hadn’t been told of the change? Barbara kept her cool, but the employee continued her defense at which point Barbara quietly left. There was no point in continuing the conversation. The woman wasn’t going to budge. It was infuriating because Barbara just wanted to be heard. After 13 years of loyalty to the business, she now debates if it’s worth going somewhere else.
Margaret was exasperated when she called to schedule a CT scan at the suggestion of her internist. She sat on the phone about 10 minutes waiting for a scheduler to answer. The woman on the phone said she couldn’t do it for she didn’t see the order. Margaret sweetly said there had been a message from her doctor on the portal to make the appointment. The woman refused to acknowledge it. “I don’t see it and don’t know what you’re talking about. Contact your doctor and call back. We’re really busy today,” she said. She wasn’t listening to Margaret.
We are sensitive to the fact that in this day and age it’s difficult finding staff for restaurants, shops, hospitals/doctors’ offices and other service providers. On top of that, we are all stressed by world and personal events and sometimes aren’t as patient and understanding as we might be. At the same time, we work hard for our dollars and value our time. That’s why we hope to be treated with respect and listened to regardless of circumstances. No one likes their voice quieted.
Here are 10 recommendations we’ve come up with to voice dismay and anger but get heard and hopefully get good results.
- Think before you complain. You may want to run the scenario by a friend or family member or sleep on it before you take up the fight and make your case.
- When in the moment, remain calm, compose your thoughts and choose the right words, which can be hard when you’re upset. Instead of hurling insults, getting personal or going into attack mode, say, “I am really upset that…” In fact, if you can say all with a smile in a sweet tone, there’s a better chance you’ll be heard. And if you can do this, you’re a better person than us at times.
- Listen carefully to what the other person says rather than shutting out their explanation. Again, if you can listen calmly, hurrah for you.
- If you’re not satisfied with the response, you have options! You can ask for a person in charge and try again, by phone or in person to make your case.
- If at any time a person starts to insult you, let it roll off your back. Don’t start a confrontation but simply do what Barbara did, walk away.
- Still not satisfied after you reach the top brass if you go that route, you can compose an email or letter, make your points and why you have valid points that need to be reconsidered and send it requiring the recipient to sign for it letting you know it went to the right person. In the letter, you might want to be sure you include a timeline depending on what occurred. You may also want to include any receipts and photos.
- Still no resolution to the airplane flight cancelled and no refund for the scratched wood floor when your new sofa was brought in? You have still more options. You might go to a consumer resource site online that will take up your “case” or you might go to Small Claims Court depending on the dollars and circumstances.
- Along the way, keep reminding yourself it’s only your time and your money—of course, the amount may be enormous and continue to infuriate you. But sometimes your time to focus on other happier challenges or events and the chance to lower your blood pressure are more valuable. In the end, you may “win” by knowing you’re right—isn’t the client always right--and by realizing you have a choice of not using that business again.
- Try to avoid putting a negative review online in a platform such as Yelp or Trip Advisor, which may hurt the business long-term. Better to voice it or write and mail or drop off your thoughts. And hope that they take your criticism constructively and learn from what you express.
- Also remember to consider forgiving and being flexible. Sometimes, the business will come back to you after realizing you’ve not made an appointment in weeks or a month or two, if a favorite salon or restaurant. Explain again why. Or give the place perhaps another chance if they don’t. Again, these are your options. You’re in the driver’s seat.