Communications – Personal and “De”personal


There are times when communicating with customers that a personal tone is quite effective and strengthens or creates a better relationship. However, there are definitely times when this personal approach can lead to frustration for the two parties by creating a “you versus me” tone – the specific scenario I am referring to typically occurs during customer support situations.

Here is an example to illustrate the point.

Customer calls or sends an email to customer support. They are frustrated (could be for any number of reasons); the bottom line is that they feel wronged and the support agent must right the situation. Most of the time the customer has started with an accusatory “you did (or did not)…”, thus starts the personalization – don’t get sucked into this confrontation. Here is the approach. Use empathy, personalize the support response in recognition of their frustration, after all this is a human interaction. Then, when dealing with the issue, depersonalize the communication. For example…

“Mr./Mrs. Customer, I am very sorry to hear that you have experienced this level of frustration…” (personalized)

“To be sure [Insert company name here] understands the situation, your organization requires [Insert problem here… (depersonalize)” Note the use of company name and reference to customer’s organization.

The ability to use “personal” and “depersonalized” communications will address the human side of the issue along with leading to the successful resolution to the problem.

This list of seven steps will help to remember when and how to communicate.

  1. Empathy (Personalize)
  2. Clarity of issue (Depersonalize)
  3. Playback with empathy (Personalize)
  4. Set Expectations (solution and time) (Depersonalize)
  5. Confirm Expectations are understood (Depersonalize)
  6. Restate empathy for situation (Personalize)
  7. Work and close issue

Did this help?

I hope this helps you!


Filed under Life, Project Management, Technology

2 responses to “Communications – Personal and “De”personal

  1. This is actually an excellent guide on how to deal with frustrated customers that try to make the issue personal. But the question is, what if you already have built a close relationship with the client? How will you deal with his “personal” frustration at this point?

  2. Larry

    If a close relationship exists, then a personal relationship exists and with it comes a level of trust. The “personal” frustration must be handled on a personal level, that being with a lot of empathy and active listening. Once the trust is re-established, it is best that the review and management of the issue is handled with a “de-personal” approach. Keeping the two separated will lead to the successful management of the issue.

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