My cable company changed internet plans and I was forced to pay the price—literally. My monthly bill jumped up tremendously, over sixty percent. I called to complain that I had never been notified of the change and that the increase was just too steep for the same service. When I was transferred to a customer rep, the person offered me five dollars off my bill for the next six months.
I explained to the rep that I had been with the cable company for a long time and that this was more to me than just a price increase. I felt a little betrayed, as if me being their client for ten years accounted for absolutely nothing and that I should simply switch companies since obviously there was no relationship.
The rep transferred me to a manager who listened patiently to me and then offered me a substantial credit on my bill. I replied, “Thank you. That means a lot to me,” and I meant it.
It would have been a good experience had it ended right there, but it didn’t. As I was just about to hang up, the manager added one more thing.
“Just so you understand, this will be the last time we will offer you a credit on your bill.”
This kind of stuff happens all the time. The conversation is going well, both sides are expressing what they want or feel, a happy (enough) conclusion is reached and while it should end right there, it doesn’t. Someone has to add just a little bit more, often just to make sure that the other person understands who’s in charge and the conversation ends poorly (when it didn’t need to) leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
That was me and the cable company.
When you complete a conversation, especially one that has an unhappy, corrective, or negative connotation attached to it, let it end on a good note and never a warning. And just because a warning is true, that doesn’t make it necessary that you should say it or the other person should hear it.
How do you know you’re ending a conversation with a warning (threat)? It will start with something like…
“If I have to…”
“If you don’t…”
“Don’t make me…”
“This is the last time…”
“If this happens again…”
Instead, end your conversation with something like…
“I’m glad we worked it out.”
“I’m glad you feel better.”
“I’m happy that we’ve had a chance to talk.”
And if the conversation goes extremely poorly and you have that terrible feeling that nothing has been improved, you can never go wrong with saying…
“Just let me know how I can help.”
“I’ll do whatever I can.”
Warnings are nothing more than possible consequences and they can be important to know and necessary to state, just put them somewhere in the middle and not in the end. Have the conversation, say what you need to say, but do yourself and the other person a great service.
Let it end on a note of hope.