Ive just witnessed such an incident, and the victims response was an understandable counter-reaction: defensive and hostile. It was understandable but inexcusable. It made the victim — the executive unfairly accused — look bad.
The next time this sort of thing happens to you — and it surely will, so be prepared — I recommend a response along these lines:
1. Immediately thank the critic for alerting you to the “issue” and promise a quick reply.
2. If you determine that the complaint was false, provide (in a neutral way) the correct information.
3. Thank the critic again and encourage him to be sure to notify you again if he encounters any other problems whatsoever.
4. Make it clear that your highest objective is good customer service and let him know that you consider his efforts to be an important part of the process.
Handling the situation in that way may sometimes be tough to do. But it will give you several advantages:
* You will demonstrate your good intent.
* You will create an ally.
* You will look mature and capable to all onlookers.
If you take the time today to imagine this happening to you sometime in the future, and then further imagine yourself responding in this mature and dignified way, chances are you will have this response.
This is not the kind of thing you should leave to instinct.[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]