We all have wants and needs. Sometimes they are personal, other times, business related, and other times still, they fall somewhere in between.

When you find yourself in a situation where you want or need something, what do you say? What do you do? How do you facilitate that want or need?

The power of words

The words we use to communicate with others have an innate power behind them to make people feel something. Not only are our words capable of this, but also the tone of voice with which we choose to use them.

Our selection of words combined with our attitude and general connotation, results in a form of communication that makes the receiving person feel a certain way: happy, sad, mad, cared for, neglected, comfortable, uncomfortable, willing to cooperate, unwilling to cooperate…

You get the picture.

Speaking nicely will take you a long way

I recently had two scenarios where it apparent how effective positive communication really can be.

Scenario #1

I ordered my kids new snowsuits. Within a few days, my son managed to rip a hole right through one of the knees (gotta love that 6-year old energy!). I registered for the warranty, and reached out to the company about my problem. My email began by saying how impressed I was with the brand and how much my kids loved the gear. (I really wasn’t trying to swindle here, I was merely being honest and expressing the positive aspects of the situation.) I wrote about the hole and asked what, if anything, could be done.

A lady responded quickly and asked me to send a photo. Upon review of that photo she got back to me saying that the warranty only covers manufacturing defects and this hole was so clearly formed by reckless outdoor fun, that it wasn’t covered. BUT! She went on to say that “since I was such a good customer”, she would send me a new pair of snow pants and all I had to do was pay the shipping. AND, she agreed to send a smaller size since the first pair (which we were just going to deal with) were ridiculously big on my son. I was so grateful!

How was I such a good customer? This was the first time I’d ever purchased. Could this woman’s feelings toward me as a customer actually have been attributed to what and how I communicated?

Scenario #2

I completely lost a Christmas gift card from my mother-in-law for a clothing place. Oops! Even though right on the back of their gift cards and in all their terms and conditions it specifically says they are not responsible for lost cards, I reached out. I told them what a bonehead I was, explained that I believed it was thrown out during a Christmas cleanup by accident, and asked super nicely if there was anything at all that could be done.

They advised me to get the email receipt from my mother-in-law, and call back. On the next call, they managed to dig up the gift card number, but it actually showed that it had been used! I explained how that was impossible from my standpoint but simultaneously thought to myself, this was a goner. Nope. They still honoured it! Who knows exactly what was showing in their records, but they issued me a new card. Amazing.

Do they do this for everyone? Or maybe, just maybe, were they more inclined to help me because of what and how I communicated?

It got me thinking…

Would all customers have received the same treatment? Or could it be that my courteousness, kindness, and apologetic attitude got me somewhere further?

Whatever the answers to these questions, I prompt you to think of how you communicate with people (particularly when you want or need something) and see what responses you get. If you act poorly or disrespectfully, do you get the same reciprocation as a compassionate, nice interaction?