I love worst-case scenarios.

Why? Because they hold the key to creating truly incredible service.

Think about it. There is a lot of bad service out there. And most of it happens because people who serve the public constantly fear the worst, and then react to everyone from a defensive posture. Scratch the surface of most disengaged people who serve the public, and more often than not you will find fear lurking there. They feel alone and vulnerable on a very public stage, worrying about when the next customer will leave them twisting defenselessly in the wind.

When people don’t bother to ask you what you want, it is often because they are afraid they won’t be able to handle what you tell them. When someone tells you “no,” they are hiding behind their policies because they have no idea how to negotiate with you. Even though they wear name tags that say, “Hi, Can I Help You?”, they are silently praying you will just go away with as little collateral damage as possible. And when you demand to speak to a manager, they often pass you off to someone who is as frightened and as clueless as they are.

So how do you change this fear? By teaching people the skills that hostage negotiators, crisis counselors, psychotherapists, and police officers use in their worst situations. When people learn these skills, everything changes. They become supremely confident in any situation. They can really engage customers, because they know they are able to lean back on these communications skills for anything someone might throw at them. It is here, in this zone of incredible confidence, that greatness takes root.