There are so many times that I have both personally experienced and witnessed poor service as a result of poor body language. This has proven to be one of the most difficult areas for humans to control when servicing others. It is natural for us to react in some way through our facial expressions, body positioning and even through our voice tonality when we are approached by someone. These five areas can make or break an interaction. For many of us it takes concerted effort to focus on control in these areas, but we must keep a handle on them when we are in service related professions. There are so many traits in these areas that we can address, but we will take the top five in my experience that must be thrown out the window!
1. DON’T EVER ROLL YOUR EYES AT THE CUSTOMER…unless of course you desire a slap across the counter! I would say this is among the most disrespectful, anger producing reactions you could demonstrate. No matter how aggravated you may be please toss this reaction it is sure to take a customer from a 2 to 100 in less than a split second.
2. DON’T CROSS YOUR ARMS ACROSS YOUR CHEST WHILE SPEAKING WITH THEM! This communicates a closed mindset. They will immediately sense that whatever they are saying means nothing to you. Without you saying a word, in their head you have already made up your mind that you will be of no assistance and you are not interested in their business. Practice keeping your hands at your side to give a stronger feeling that you are approachable.
3. PLEASE DON’T STEP INTO THEIR SAFETY ZONE! When you are upset the worst thing you can do is invade the customers space by putting your body and/or face too close to theirs. Try to keep the “3 foot rule” in mind. When you come closer than 3 feet, it feels as if you are placing yourself in a confrontational position. It’s almost as if subcontiously you are picking a fight. Back up and stay backed up!
4. DON’T SLOW DOWN YOUR SPEECH TO AN EXAGGERATED DRAWL! Because the customer may not agree with you does not mean they can’t hear or understand what you are saying to them. So there is no need to slow your speech down as if they have a hearing or comprehension problem. They will assume that you feel they are stupid and you will surely exasperate them even more. Toss that trait!
5. DON’T YELL! Yelling draws attention, infuriates and is unnecessary! Try your best to speak at a comfortable volume. If the customer elevates his voice, lower yours. A screaming match gets nothing accomplished and can take the matter to a level that is counterproductive. It’s unprofessional and can become a precursor to a verbal and or physical altercation. It’s not worth it!
If you just read this list and shook your head and said “Man, this stuff is not easy!”, you are normal. Servicing others, especially when they are not in the best of moods, is not a walk in the park. You may not have control over their behavior, but you do have control over yours. In the end it’s worth it to throw poor traits out the window, maintain your level of dignity and walk away knowing you were on top of your “service game”!
Written by Monique Stubbs-Hall
Hospitality and Service Expert