Talking to staff can be difficult when you need a problem fixed but are too emotional to think straight. Sometimes, all you want to do is yell because they seem so stupid. I’ve been in those situations where how you approach the staff tells more about what you will get out of it than the release of letting steam off on them. So these are my tips for talking to staff about a problem.
1. Keep Your Cool
When talking to staff, it’s important to keep your cool. Try to keep in mind that confronting staff with an angry disposition will only make things worse. This past summer I was in Monaco and the hotel we were staying at was definitely the cheapest one we could find. Our room had so many problems that we needed to get a new one from the start. My friend wanted to race down and yell at them for “ruining my hopes for the vacation” but I told her I would fix the problem because I was more composed than she was in that moment.
2. Don’t Point out Their Faults
The worst thing to do would be going down to the staff and telling them that they screwed up. Instead, talk about problems you see in a distant way. For example, “I couldn’t help but notice that our toilet didn’t flush.” A statement like that is better than rushing into, “I can’t believe you gave us a room with a non-working toilet!” Don’t make it personal to the staff or else they will make it more challenging to remedy the situation.
3. How You Say It
When confronting staff, it’s how you phrase it that will make the impact. Take for example my friend whose student account was recently frozen because she needed to fill out some medical forms that had been overlooked. When the woman asked about one medical path chosen by my friend and her family, my friend simply said, “Well, I’m glad you asked.” She then went to explain herself with a compelling argument rather than brushing it off quickly, which would have only frustrated the nurse.
4. Keep It Friendly
By keeping it friendly, people want to help you. If you confront them in a pleasant way despite your disappointment or frustration, then they can’t help but try their best to get you what you want. Talk to them about how you can fix the problem together in an acceptable way for each side. I smiled and kept my tone light while talking with the hotel management about my room problem.
5. Offer Suggestions
A way to maintain that friendly demeanor is by offering suggestions of ways to fix the problem, not demanding it to be remedied immediately. In my situation, the hotel management suggested that they send someone up to the room to check the toilet out. I pointed out some other problems we had with the room and suggested they move us to a better room for our stay so that they could fully look at the room. By suggesting my own option, the staff was able to work with me to get a new room for the same rate.
6. Work through Confusion
I had to deal with a taxi driver in Paris that was rude and confused with what I was trying to say. Let me start by saying I speak French like a native so my communication was not the problem. I wanted to yell at him for giving us such hassle when I changed the location of where we were going because the first location was a pedestrian-only road. Sometimes it’s important to walk them through the situation by saying something like “I didn’t realize that was a pedestrian-only road so the address I want you to take us to is...” Keep it simple for the best results.
7. Thank Them
Make sure to thank them for helping you! It makes you the bigger person in the situation. That may be the last thing you want to do, especially if they added unnecessary stress on your end. But it sets the tone for any future issues you need to address with them and ensures that they treat you well the rest of your stay.
I hope these tips gave you some points to keep in mind when it comes to talking to staff about a problem when all you want to do is yell at them. Remember to take a deep breath before confronting them and try to keep calm. It will get the best results. What are other ways to approach staff?