In our programs, we dedicate a portion of our time to presenting an effective technique for taking the stress out of challenging situations. We discuss the impact of stress in emotional situations and the important role that we play as technicians to reduce it. The power of this technique was brought home to me last week.
On a trip to western Canada, I had the dubious pleasure of having my email hacked by someone who gets their kicks out of making the lives of others miserable. It started about 6 AM with a couple of “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender…” email messages and suddenly it turned into a torrent. My smart phone would not stop vibrating as message after messaged jammed my inbox. And then, after about 10 minutes, it stopped. Phew, I thought. That must have been a glitch somewhere. Just as my blood pressure was returning to normal, it started again and this time it did not stop.
I should point out that I am not very savvy when it comes to high tech. I called my service provider and the kind person on the other end of the line walked me through various steps to try to stop the vicious emails. We spent over two hours on the phone. Nothing seemed to work and, in the process, we found that my outgoing email was not working either.
I had to terminate the call so I could get to an important appointment, so the service provider gave me a ticket number and told me to check back later. By this time I had over 3000 emails and counting in my inbox and I was a nervous wreck. I turned off the vibration feature to reduce the stress, but I watched as the emails kept piling up – faster than I could delete them.
Thank goodness my phone still worked. On my way to the appointment I called the person who set up the service for me and who manages my social media needs. She knows that I am not up to speed when it comes to this type of technology and she could tell that I was under a great deal of stress. She intuitively knew that the stress I was feeling was largely because the situation was completely outside of my control and I felt helpless to do anything about it. She immediately took steps to reduce the stress in the situation and give me some semblance of control.
She explained to me what was likely happening here and that the first thing to do was to change my email access password. She would do that for me. She then volunteered to call my service provider and discuss the situation and get a “read” on what was going on from their end. She pointed out that this was not an uncommon problem and that it would be solved – it was just a matter of time. I was going into a meeting and we agreed that she would be standing by for my call when the appointment was over to bring me up to speed on what was going on.
That simple act made all of the difference for me. Through her actions, she was able to give me the sense that I did after all have some control over the situation. She didn’t fix the problem per se, she simply gave me the information and, after her conversation with the technical person at my service provider, was able to put me at ease by assuring me that everything was being done that could be.
The problem was finally resolved late that evening and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, it made me think. The technical person at the service provider was very helpful and I am sure that he was doing all that could be done. However, I did not feel reassured at the time that everything was being done that could be done or that if we were even on the right track. As a result, my stress levels did not subside and, if anything, kept rising as we seemed to be no nearer to a solution. If only he had taken a moment to explain what was behind what I was experiencing, and reassure me by explaining the steps they would take to pinpoint the cause and get me back in business, it would have given me more confidence in his actions and greatly reduced my stress levels from the start.
How about your service techs? Do they initially focus on the problem or the customer? Do they take a moment to reassure the customer through their words and their actions to reduce the stress the customer is feeling?
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“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”
- Fred Rogers