by Stephanie Schwartz, M.S.
Last week I had a technical issue with my laptop. I called the company that I purchased it from and described the problem. I was told that a technical support associate would be able to assist me at their in person help center and made an appointment. However, soon after arriving to the appointment I was told that what I was looking for help with was something that they could not do. So, I had spent my free time after work walking 25 minutes out of my way (carrying my laptop) only to leave the center with an unsolved problem. I was not pleased. I called the company’s customer service line and submitted a complaint by patiently and calmly explaining my negative experience to the representative. The representative gave me a case number and told me I would be contacted within 24-48 hours.
Fast forward to today, a week later, and I have not heard anything. So, I called the customer service line again and asked for the status of my complaint. I will spare you all of the details – but my 50 minutes on the phone involved being transferred 4 times (once to a representative only speaking Spanish). It turned out the representative I submitted the complaint with last week gave me an incorrect case number since that number pulled up a complaint reported by “Justin” in 2012. I felt angry and as each representative was unable to locate my complaint, my anger got more intense. I believed that these representatives should not mess up, should be able to help me, and should be better informed. As my time on the phone increased, so did the volume of my voice. The call ended with little resolve for my issue, but I was awarded a $50 gift card.
Reflecting back on the situation, I think I could have achieved the same result without raising my voice and changing my tone with the representative. Had I changed my belief from a demand to a preference, such as, “I’d like it if the representative did not mess up, but she is human and can make mistakes,” I may have been able to change my unhealthy anger to frustration and likely would have asserted myself in a more appropriate manner. I also probably could have been happier about the gift card instead of feeling bad about the way I behaved to achieve it. So next time you encounter a similar situation remember to challenge those demands, since making yourself unhealthily angry probably isn’t going to change much except for maybe an increase in your blood pressure!