HBR: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting

If you’ve worked in hospitality for more than about 2 days, you’ve probably already been yelled at by an angry guest.  Luckily Mark Goulston at the Harvard Business Review has some great tips.  Mark suggests asking a person who is venting the following three questions:

  1. Just ListenWhat are you most frustrated about? This is a good question because when you ask them about their feelings, it often sounds condescending. And if you start out focusing on their anger, it sounds as if you are coldly telling them to get a hold on themselves, which may work, but more often will just cause the pressure inside them to build up even more.
  2. What are you most angry about? This is where their emotional pus drains. Again let them finish and have them go deeper by asking them, “Say more about _________ .” Don’t take issue with them or get into a debate, just know that they really need to get this off their chest — and if you listen without interrupting them, while also inviting them to say even more, they will.
  3. What are you really worried about? This is like the blood that comes out of wound following the pus. It is as the core of their emotional wound. If you have listened and not taken issue with their frustration and anger, they will speak to you about what they’re really worried about.

Mark has a great book out called “Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone”

Source:  Harvard Business Review Article

Book:  Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

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