It goes without saying that working directly with students, parents, and staff is stressful. You are going to encounter upset customers and they share one common goal. They want the pain to stop and stop immediately. There are some ways of thinking and communicating that makes our job easier by using our superpower of empathy.
Empathy allows for your student or staff to feel like they are being heard. As a result, when they know and believe that you have heard them, they quickly return to a state of calmness. The return to the state of calm is a win for them and you. What you really want to know is how to achieve a level of “Zen-like” calmness in others. We will explore the classic levels of empathic responses.
Here is an example. Your student (or parent) is disputing the yearly tuition increase (we all have had this conversation and sometimes they do not go well for either party). Your empathic responses can change the outcome to a positive to beneficial exchange. Let’s explore the levels (they go from low to high):
- Level 1 - "Easy does it, this is not my fault” (least helpful);
- Level 2 -"I’m sorry, but you were informed of the increase”;
- Level 3 – "I apologize if you are only just finding out about this now”;
- Level 4 – “I agree with you that this information about the change is easily missed”;
- Level 5 – “You feel blindsided and taken advantage of, and for that, I’m sorry” (most helpful).
With a little practice and role-playing, you will be a customer service superhero, not the villain, because your level 5 empathic responses will flow.