Progressive sales or customer service training teaches that a customer returning something or complaining about the quality/service is usually an opportunity. The customer is fixated on a specific thing so they care to a high degree. If you can solve their problem, you become their hero and increase their loyalty to your business.
The same is true with wives, husbands, children, parents, friends, clients, and co-workers. When they let you know that you hurt their feelings, it is really important to them. They have to care a lot to tell you what upset them. Caring means they are highly invested in the interaction- that is the opportunity. They are trusting you. The possibility of becoming closer to them is
huge in these situations.
Yet when it happens, you often feel defensive. There is a tendency to cut them off and fire back at them. The best defense is a good offense. It feels like it came out of nowhere and you didn't do anything wrong. And chances are you didn't. Because, it usually has very little to do with you. It rather has to do with what you (or your actions) represent to them.
So I say whenever possible, take a deep breath and let them bring it on. After you listen to them (without interrupting), ask questions to make sure you understand. Then tell them (honestly) what you intended by what you said or did. This will often uncover misunderstandings.
And, apologize if you were insensitive. Who by the way, does not sometimes say insensitive things. Own it and move on already.
The person that approached you will usually feel relieved and heard. It is such an easy way to get closer to someone- yet we rarely take advantage of it.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.