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Focusing on solutions can sometimes be exactly the wrong thing to do. If a person simply wants to be heard, they do not need any advice, however good.

Many people claim that it is a women-men topic: women only want you be listened to and men come up with unwanted solutions. I do not believe that. I notice that it used to be the same at home, only with reversed roles. My husband wanted to tell me something about his work and I had a million ideas on how he could improve the situation. They were very clever (I thought). But he really didn’t want to hear them and he made that clear to me. Eventually I stopped it. I think there are some situations where every person, no matter if man or woman, just wants to be heard. Period.

I recently encountered the topic in a seminar. Because that’ s exactly how it works in a complaint. People call, complain and get presented with a solution, usually very quickly. No matter whether it is good or not – something is missing. Most would first like to have some understanding for what they had to endure. Of course, customers are happy about solutions, especially if they are in their favor. But the other part, understanding, is at least as important and is often neglected.

The excuse of those who get to the point so quickly is that they don’t have time to listen for long. I claim that this is wrongly calculated. The customer who wants to tell the story does it one way or the other. He will interrupt again and again and thus prolong the conversation. That’s why it’s usually faster to keep quiet a little longer at the beginning in order to find a joint solution at the end.

And then there is another point: When was the last time you received a sincere apology for a complaint? One that wasn’t immediately followed by an explanation or even blame? “I’m sorry, but our system doesn’t allow it any other way” or “I’m sorry, but next time you have to…”. Instead, how good does it feel if someone simply says, “I’m sorry,” and then keeps quiet until they got an answer. Give it a try. It has a very different effect.

With my husband, for some time I’ve been doing it like this: he talks and I listen. I do nothing else in the meantime, but simply being there for him. He does the same for me. Feels good!

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