How to De-escalate Using the Snatch and Flip Technique

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When your customer furiously tears in, not letting you pinch in so much as “um hmmm,” regain control using the Snatch and Flip technique. Here’s what you do.

1. Listen (Try to be fully present, listening without annoyance.)

2. Identify the subject that has hacked the customer off. (This tends to be the thing they bring up repeatedly.)

3. Snatch the topic and jump in, and immediately flip the conversation to how you might help. (Think of timing your entrance into a game of jump rope – you have to find the exact right second, or you’ll trip on the rope.)

If your customer’s real issue is the rental car broke down, but she’s venting about her hungry and irritated kids, and how your company put her in this position, you snatch the topic of her kids and then flip into problem-solving. Like this.

“I want to get you back to your kids quickly. So let me find out exactly where you’re located so we can send out a replacement vehicle.”

Steps one and two are easy. You do this every day. The Snap and Flip take some practice. Let me walk you throw exactly how to pull this off. Continue reading “How to De-escalate Using the Snatch and Flip Technique”

The One Word That Makes Customers Accept Your Word As Final


If you say “because” when you’re telling a customer something, you’ll significantly increase the chance that they’ll accept your word as final.

Here’s Why Saying “Because” Works

Research by psychologist Ellen Langer found that saying “because,” and then tossing out a reason as insignificant as a discarded rubber band, got people to agree. In her research, Ellen created a scenario where a person wanted to cut in line to use a copier in a library, and the request was made three different ways:

1. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

60% of the time this question worked, and the person was able to cut in line.

2. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

This absurd reason worked 93% of the time.

3. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

Pleading with urgency, even with a ludicrous need, upped the success rate to 94%.

Using the “because” tactic, you can increase the chances of a customer accepting your word as final. I teach and role-play this strategy in my de-escalation workshops.

Here’s all you have to do to use the “because” tactic for de-escalation. Continue reading “The One Word That Makes Customers Accept Your Word As Final”

The Buck Stops Here: How to De-escalate Angry Customers and Control Conversations

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I’ve learned the most potent de-escalation tactics known from the martial art Aikido, trial lawyers, law enforcement, a former FBI hostage negotiator, and the greatest escalation agents in customer service.

And on Friday, March 1st I’m hosting my refashioned De-escalation Training in a webinar. Join me and I’ll give your customer service employees the power to get any customer to back down.


5 Reasons Why You’re a Rookie At De-escalating

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Inflammatory words and an aggressive tone heat up an interaction like an oven heats up a room. The five biggest mistakes I see customer service professionals make when talking to upset customers are:

Aggressive tone – A direct or authoritative tone will quickly lead to an escalation in aggression or to a supervisor.

Making threats – Spitting off, “Calm down or I can’t help you” will assuredly not make a customer calm down.

Repeating your point – Repetition doesn’t make your point stronger. It annoys, or worse, infuriates your customer.

Pushing back – Getting aggressive or hostile because your customer pushes you shows weakness, and your customer will push harder.

Playing the antagonist role – Disagreeing and pointing out where your customer is wrong intensifies the interaction.

Let’s walk through the five big rookie mistakes, and see how an all-star would handle each of these situations. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why You’re a Rookie At De-escalating”

Try Standing Like Wonder Woman For 2 Minutes Before Talking To An Employee About a Problem – You’ll Feel More Confident and Powerful


If you go to a restroom stall and stand with your hands on your hips and point your elbows outward and hold that position for two minutes, you’ll perform very well in stressful situations. Like when you talk to an employee about a performance problem, or when you go into a big meeting without all the answers you need.

Sounds crazy, I know.

We go live with scene one in less than seven minutes. The room is bright as day with all of the studio lights. Props to create our mock optometry office make me feel crowded in the tiny set made even smaller by the intimidating presence of my director and producer, and the production assistant.

But I’m as calm as a bathtub.

I’m looking down the barrel of the camera with my hands on my hips; elbows bowed outward. I’m standing like Wonder Woman. And this is why I’m entirely at ease.


Research Says Standing Like Wonder Woman For 2 Minutes Helps You Handle Stressful Situations Very Well (Like job interviews, talking about a tough problem, etc.)

In her body language studies, Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy, made some astonishing findings. When people stand akimbo, like Super Man or Wonder Woman for 120 seconds, they feel more powerful.

Cuddy’s research showed that when people stand with their hands on their hips with elbows turned outward, they get these benefits: Continue reading “Try Standing Like Wonder Woman For 2 Minutes Before Talking To An Employee About a Problem – You’ll Feel More Confident and Powerful”

This Business Book Was So Good That I Took 41 Pages of Notes


Every week I silo for three uninterrupted hours to invest in myself. For this self-improvement exercise, I’ve attended a webinar, read a book, watched a Ted Talk, or sat with a mentor over coffee. If I’m in my office during this three-hour window, my phone is on Do Not Disturb and my inbox is paused.

Two weeks ago I sipped Syrah and read one of the best communication books I’ve ever read. (It was 5 o’clock somewhere.)

I read, “Never Split the Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended On It,” by Chris Voss. It took me two of my 3-hour blocks to finish it, in part because of my waves of notetaking. I am so astonishingly excited about this book that I have to share it with you!

My Review of Chris Voss’s “Never Split the Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended On It.” Continue reading “This Business Book Was So Good That I Took 41 Pages of Notes”