Author Dan Lumley says that listening intently is the key to dealing with any upset person.
● Summarize the facts. Summarizing the facts that have been discussed in the meeting suggests to the other person that you really do understand his concerns and that you have really thought about what he has said.
● Ask what the person would like. Toward the end of the meeting, it is important to ask the upset person, "What do you think we should do to solve this problem?" This question sends a strong message that you are interested in a workable solution to the issue in question. Often, the question does result in the difficult person proposing a workable solution. It is important, however, to avoid making promises unless you can keep them.
● Say you will call or e-mail. If you need time to address any concerns, it is appropriate to defer action to another time by saying things like, "I don't have an answer for you right now, but if you give me your phone number or e-mail address, I promise I will get back to you by next Friday." Finally, express thanks to the person for sharing his concerns with you.
Poor responses to upset patrons can, and often do, inflame transportation cultures and burn communication bridges that pupil transportation leaders constantly strive to build.
Use of the tips, traps and to-dos outlined above can go a long way in cooling down heated passions.
Finally, some have suggested that the above strategies are also effective when dealing with angry and upset spouses!
Dr. Dan Lumley is a former school administrator in Kansas and Missouri who consults with school districts across the U.S. and internationally on a variety of motivational topics. He holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Kansas State University. His “Preventing Misbehavior on the School Bus” is a popular in-service presentation at conferences and workshops. He can be reached at www.educateandmotivate.com.