I’m all for a good rant, it gets the emotions out in the open, dusts off cobwebs and lets people know where you stand. I cringe when I see it on business pages or in Facebook groups.
And that’s it! Why? Why do you want us to know this? Why do you need to come from a place of negativity? Why is there not a constructive way to get your message across? If you walked into a bricks & mortar store and the shop owner ranted at you about the previous customer, how would you feel? What would it make you think about their service and respect for their customers?
Last week I wrote how Facebook is a social medium and that there were ways to be sociable. Ranting isn’t social, it’s finger pointing and demeaning. It doesn’t really educate or inform. It doesn’t make your customers laugh or feel good about you or themselves. It makes you feel better for getting something off of your chest, but it puts you in an offensive position and someone, therefore, will be in a defensive position.
While you might think that having a rant in a group is ‘safe’ because it isn’t on your business page, you forget that the people in the group are prospective customers and they are seeing you let fly about how stupid a customer has been, how annoying a competitor is by copying your idea or how Facebook is driving you nuts because no one is seeing your posts. Do they need to know that about your personality?
So what can you do when you need a good rant?
Phone a friend.
I have a few friends, and my very understanding hubby, who receive my rants. I do rant on Facebook about customers, business & Facebook (I’m human, people get to me); but I do it in a private message with my friends. There’s nothing quite like letting the fingers fly in a message to someone who knows all you need to do is let off steam. The thing is that the message is contained; we know where we stand and when we need advice and when we just need someone to be there for us.
Sleep on it.
Honestly, will waiting 10 – 24 hours make a huge difference to the situation? I do this A LOT. Though I sometimes find it hard to go to sleep, putting the space and time between the initial rant inducing event and the actual rant response can be beneficial. It gives you time to stop and think. When I was managing 10 staff over four locations I was often put in rant-worthy situations. I developed this mnemonic: STOP; Step back, Think, Options, Perspective (mine & theirs).
I had it as a PostIt note on my computer monitor, where I could see it after the phone call or email. I would mentally go through the list one letter at a time & hold myself to task until I had fully addressed each letter. I even made notes of the options and perspectives. (More on this later)
Write it in a document and don’t send it.
As much as I love my friends and hubby, sometimes they just don’t get it. They want to fix the problem, they offer solutions and all I want to do is get it ‘off my chest’ and let fly. The computer is not going to mind you having a go at it. Now walk away and leave that document for another couple of hours. The best thing is that this document can help, read on!
So you have ranted in a message, given it 24 hours, you have done your STOP list and/or written the rant in an unsent document and you are still wound up. Go back and open up that document and delete all of the emotion filled words. I don’t mean in track changes either. Get rid of them for good, because they won’t help you. What are you left with? Read over the document again.
~ Is there a theme running through the document?
~ Is the theme about you and your reactions or actions?
~ Is the theme about the other person and what they did or didn’t do?
~ Is there a miscommunication or misunderstanding?
~ Is someone missing some information?
Now rewrite the document, yes start a new document, filling in the gaps. Apologise for the mistake or misunderstanding, apologising diffuses a situation. Apologising shows that you have considered the situation from their perspective (stoP). Write down what services you offer to fix or prevent that situation. If you don’t have a service that will fix or prevent it from happening again, what will you change to prevent it in the future. These are your Options (stOp). Now, step away from the document for a while – go get some sun, go for a walk or have a cuppa. Done? Now open this new document and remove any emotion filled language. Do you see any themes? Can you condense your message? Now, is that message important enough to send? Will it inform or educate? Will it help someone other than you? Yes? Read on.
If you have come to a point that you have devised the theme of the issue at hand, outlined what can or will be done to fix or prevent it, written it in a way to inform or educate (but please don’t be condescending), removed the emotion, and realised that the message is there to help others and not just acts to get something ‘off of your chest’; then you need to decide how to deliver the message. Does the message apply to just one person and do you think they will benefit from hearing what you have to say (remember, Perspective) then send them a message. Use what you have written in the document to form an email to them. Will more than one person benefit from your message? Will it help the majority of your customers to know this little tidbit on how you work? Then by all means put up a Facebook post, write it in your newsletter or blog about it. Share your knowledge, but be constructive. Remember that people use Facebook to socialise, they don’t want doom and gloom and they certainly don’t want to be told how bad they are as customers, even if they have never bought from you – yet!