Whether you work in Hospitality, Mental Health, Retail, or the Airlines. Saying no to someone builds an internal flame of anger and frustration and it does not have to be.

In our leadership development program, we share a simple example of how this works. I ask the strongest looking person to come to the front of the room with me. I simply ask them to put their hands up in front of them – nothing else. I put my hands against their hands and start pushing and without me asking, they push back. I did not ask them to push back and the harder I push the harder they push back.

You see, the thing is, when we push people or say no to people, we get resistance and it damages the relationship and reputation we have as leaders or suppliers to our customers.

We do not have to say No.

Let me explain. I fly on a very regular basis and at times I arrive at the airport early, so I check availability of earlier flights. I know there is lots of availability to go to the counter and ask the staff if I can change flights.

They look me up on the system and say, “Sorry sir, your ticket does not allow a change”. I try and explain that there is a lot of availability on the earlier flight, yet I continue to get No.

A far better approach to dealing with this could be as follows; “Sir, let me check that for you. I see your ticket cannot be changed but please let me see what I can do. Give me a moment as I check with my supervisor. Sorry sir, I have tried my best for you, but the computer just won’t let me make the change, I am terribly sorry”. I walk away from this experience feeling satisfied that the person did their best to help me out. The outcome is the same, but the customer experience is completely different.

This raises the question; how do you train your team to deal with the ‘No’ response? Do you upset the customer or work with the customer to help them understand?

Such a simple approach yet a significantly different reputation of customer service for companies that get this right.