How Our Tone Can Build Bridges!

How do we talk to others? How do you talk to your clients? If someone calls you by the wrong name what do you do? Do you snap at them? Do you offer your first name gently with a smile? How do you view this error? Do you view it as an insult that they spelled your name in-correctly or that they pronounced your name incorrectly? Do you show them some tough love? Do you remember that each person we meet in this life has a story and that we could be parts and pieces of their story and hopefully not a sad ending to that part of the story?

Well first of all – do you apologize if you make a mistake such as this?When a client reaches out to you for help because they sincerely are having a tough time pulling something together, do you send them a scathing email when they email you and they have pieces of the process incorrect? I certainly hope not. Do you offer suggestions on how to proceed or offer suggestions of how they do it differently next time? I absolutely hope you do – why? There’s an opportunity.

One thing I like to do is make a note of my mistake and ask myself what can I glean from it? What can I take away from the situation that improves me and my processes? I try to first offer my apologies. It is not about whether it is accepted or not. It is about my response and if I’m wrong to say that I am wrong. I make a mental and probably even a written note for my ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’ list! I post it on my wall if that is what it takes.Each experience is an opportunity to learn. Then I say “thank you”. Thank you for showing me how I could do this better and thank you that you were kind enough to teach me gently how I could improve.

Do you make it a habit to apologize and say thank you? I hope when you find the need that you use these words. I truly believe they are bridge builders.

Now – I am not always for responding to scathing emails but today I found an opportunity to invite the ‘possibility’ of another side to an issue. I apologized. I thanked them for what I had learned. I do make mistakes. Simply. Period. The end!

No – not the end – because – when you offer an apology or you offer a ‘thank you’, I believe you are leaving the door open to more and greater and to begin.

You know clients are sources of information just like a Virtual Assistant is to a client. That’s the beauty in it. Even from one Virtual Assistant to another Virtual Assistant, there are a wealth of opportunities to assist and learn from each other.

The way I see and do life is this….

If someone is giving something, i.e. an opportunity – then I like to reciprocate and give something in return. I look for ways to say ‘thank you’ as a way to say “I value YOU!”

I truly believe in building others up to see their own value also – even if they may not need me to. It just does me a world of good to say at the end of the day, that I’ve been erecting bridges – not tearing them down.

So I give compliments to others when I feel they are needed. I try to lift someone up when I feel it is needed. I say I am wrong and say “thank you” even if it is not needed, yet from me to another – it is what I expect of myself.

I was overwhelmed today and rushed to handle something and well I made an error or two and I had it quickly pointed out. I was told that the words about to be shared with me were ‘tough love‘. Okay. I can take it. Go ahead. I will try to find what I can from it to improve me and offer ‘thank you’ and ‘please forgive me’ for my error.

Okay – one very big thing with me and big in my book – is “tone”. I believe there is a professional tone and an in-excusable tone.

How do you express yourself in emails and letters and phone calls or even in direct one-to-one meetings? Do you realize you and the client are both to be valued?

Do you realize that you are not a subordinate and that you are a human being and that even when it is said that the ‘customer is always right’, that you deserve to be respected just like the client or any other person? When someone is rude ‘sounding’ and admittedly rude to you on purpose in a business setting, what do you do? How do you handle it? No really – I would love to hear – how you handle it? Is your tone icy? Is your tone haughty? Or is your tone humble and empathetic to what is being shared?

Today, I had a reminder that for me personally – no matter whether I am working for myself or someone else, that my tone should be one of encouragement and keeping an eye out for ways to help someone, who interestingly enough may be just starting out in some area of their life or business, or with some new venture and mistakes are inevitable. When we make a mistake or when a client makes a mistake, let us remember, as humans – we all are valuable in our own right.

There is absolutely no reason that I can think of to make another feel that they are less or small. Life is just way too short for that. As a cancer survivor, this became and is a reality for me – daily.

Let us ever remember to keep our “thank you” as “thank you” and our apologies asreal and our tones as empathetic, professional, encouraging and helpful.

Anyway, today I was reminded of my value, which I so needed and I thanked them for reminding me. I made note of how I could improve and that I stand corrected, yet – the truth of the matter is this – we all have room to grow….

Vicki Fisher-Writer/Virtual Assistant


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