Posts Tagged ‘Kindness’

Killing You Softly

March 18, 2013 1 comment

As someone who has been in the customer service industry for about 15 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about conflict resolution. Mostly, as someone turns red-faced and spews white-hot acid onto your face and melts it into something akin to a hearty stew, you smile through the agitated spittle and say, “I understand where you’re coming from.” I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject, the same way that Dr. Phil considers himself an expert on hair regrowth. You thought I was going to take the easy way out and say “psychology”, didn’t you? Well, you were wrong. Terribly wrong. Unconscionably wrong. I’ve called the police. You won’t get away with this.

I’ve found that the best way to defuse a situation is to “kill the other person with kindness”. There are a few distinctions between this, and “killing someone with a knife”, “killing someone with murder”, or “killing someone with poison metered out into their food in such low doses that a standard toxicology screening can’t find it until the autopsy”.

When someone gets mad at you and starts yelling, the first response is the aforementioned “I understand where you’re coming from” or the lesser “I hear that you are upset”. Though you may feel the need to say either of these with a tone that says, “I hear that you are an idiot who likes to hear themselves talk”, please resist. That part comes later, and much more subtle.

I have found that a well-formed response comes in the form of an insult. Now, please don’t misunderestimate me. And while I’m making up words, don’t antiunderstandigate me, either. The cleverest of backhanded compliments comes in two varieties:

-Telling a person something that sounds nice, but is actually mean

If I said, as you were regurgitating your despicable vitriol on me, “I am sorry you feel that way”, I am, in actuality, saying, “I am sorry your feelings are misguided and invalid as it pertains to your complaint”. Likewise, “I see your point” translates flawlessly to “Your mother is probably ashamed for the way you have turned out”. This not only diffuses your rage, but also shows I am the better person for having sustained your ridiculous absurdity without kicking you in “the nether regions”. Honestly, the sheer cost of flying you to Holland just to kick you in the groin doesn’t pay for itself, in terms of five-year amortization (just another term I picked up in business school that I obviously don’t know how to use correctly).

-Telling a person something that sounds mean, but is really very nice

This way of insulting someone does require some forethought. I recommend noting these insults ahead of time and keeping them strapped to your forearm like an NFL quarterback keeps a list of plays. Unlike Tim Tebow, however, you may actually want to READ these once in a while. Otherwise, you may have a sweaty fat guy pounce on you 20 times every Sunday (like Tim Tebow).

For your convenience, I have pre-loaded a few insults that are actually quite complimentary. These one-liners catch your opponent off guard so much that he/she (or in the worst-case scenario, a he-she) will be prone to ask, “AND JUST WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?!” You may then disarm this mouth-breathing halfwit by telling him/her (or a him-her) by telling them just what the heck you mean by that.

“You, sir, are a Pennsylvania Dutchman!” = “You are hard-working and provide me with delicious handmade candy.”

“I can see clearly that you are consumed by despair and self-loathing.” = “You are a person who is filled with feeling and emotion.”

“You rabid wolverine crawling with maggots!” = “You are a respectable persistent mammal with a magnetism for others.”

“You are the Lindsay Lohan of rational human beings.” = “I loved the ‘Parent Trap’ remake.”

Now you, too, can go out and serve the public with kindness and respect! These tactics are foolproof! Just to be safe, I carry a can of pepper spray.