Front Desk Drama: It is the D-A-S-H that makes the Difference!
By Gay Lynn Williamson-Grigas author of Trigger-Proof Your Way To Success
Monday, 27th September 2010
While in North Carolina I met Diane, she works at the front desk at a luxury hotel chain and she is enthusiastic, a real go-getter, but always manages to get in the middle of the front desk conflicts and drama. 

This leaves her feeling depressed and drained—and it started taking a toll on the quality of her work and her personal well being.  Recently she snapped at a guest who was in the middle of a long-winded complaint.  She immediately knew she had over personalized a comment the guest made and regretted her response. 

The guest escalated and became more irate and began picking out more small problems with her service and complained.  Diane began to feel defensive.  Now what was she suppose to do? 

The bottom-line is we want to hear the guest's complaints and problems! And when those problems are resolved quickly there is a 95% chance that guest will return!  We need to prepare our front desk with the tools that will create success quickly.  It is the D-A-S-H of time that makes the difference: 

D: Defuse
A: Analyze
S: Self Talk
H: Handle it.

Here is what your hotel front-line employees need to know…

D-ASH: Defuse Yourself First

When you are triggered or your buttons are pushed the first person you need to gain control of is yourself.  Stop playing the blame/shame game and finer pointing.  Get control of yourself, you cannot control the guest nor anybody else.  You know, you have tried to control other people, and it didn't work, they never changed, and you only became more upset and lost more power and peace of mind.  Stop trying to control the guest and take control of yourself by taking total responsibility for yourself and your emotions and your perceptions of the situation.  First you get control of yourself then you can begin to control the situation and help the guest.

This is not always easy to do!  You want to blame somebody, and you want to make the guest wrong, you want to feel self-righteous and better than them.  Also, you are angry at yourself for letting a guest trigger you, how could you be so stupid, how could you be so unprepared and let yourself get out of control.  You feel badly about your own triggered responses and it makes it harder for you to get unblocked mentally and emotionally. 

Everyone makes mistakes.  Let go of the fear of being out of control.  Defuse yourself first.  Gain control of yourself. 

Prepare yourself positively by what you say to yourself, your own self talk; your internal dialogue might be something like this,

"This guest is really upset right now, I know it is not about me, they are upset about a situation and taking it out on me. I am going to have to take some extra time to find out what is really going on." 

Appear calm self assured and centered, even if you may not feel that way.  Your anxiety can add fuel to the fire and even escalate tension and aggression.  Use a modulated even flat tone of voice. If you notice your voice sounding tight, higher pitched or scared change or modify it.  Lower your voice, ask questions and wait.  Really listen to the guest responses.  Help the guest save face and you will save face too.

DA-SH: Analyze the Situation

Analyze the situation.  Imagine that you are a detective and you are carefully putting the pieces of a mystery together.  Look for missing information, problem solve, look at all the symptoms before making a diagnosis.  While you are doing this investigation be respectful towards the guest ask for their help. 

Remember the guest believes you have the information or power to do something which you may or may not have.  The guest may become more agitated while you are in this inquiry process because they may be very fearful or insecure about their position.  Because they are feeling this way they may be throwing insults at you.  Do not become defensive, this is not about you. 

You are observing and accessing the situation asking questions, even showing empathy for the guest while gathering data. Empathize with feeling not with behavior, for example "you have a right to be angry but it is not okay to swear at me or my staff."  Show care and empathy.  Apologize even if you are not involved.  Maintain eye contact.  Use their name.   Write things down.  Allow the guest to vent.

DAS-H: Self Talk

The most important conversation you will have all day long is the one you are having with yourself.  What is the internal conversation going on in your head?  I am not talking about hearing disembodied voices or psychotic breaks from reality.  I am referring to your own inner dialogue, what are you saying to yourself.  Becoming conscious of your inner dialogue and the perceptions and pictures you are creating in your mind.   This will help you gain control and assess the situation.

Listen to what you are saying to yourself.  Listen to the tone, the words, and the feelings behind the words.  We are our own worst enemies at times.  We are more critical of our self than anyone else could ever be.  Use your self talk in a more encouraging way.  You have to be our own best cheerleader.  If you are waiting for someone else to tell you are doing a good job you may be waiting a very long time to get the "good job" or "congratulations" stroke from the boss or someone else.

Recognize your inner voice and tune into what you are saying and use it positively to promote your own inner sense of well being and self worth.  Sometimes you need to just be quite, tell the negative inner voice to "shut-up and sit down", or "thank you for sharing" and move on.

When you learn to have better control of the inner voice you also maintain a better control of the impulse to just blurt something that may be hurtful or damaging.  Silence is always golden.  There is whimsical yet wise phrase "who you are speaks so loudly I can hardly hear what you are saying."  Who you are, how you carry yourself, and your ability to hold your tongue speaks volumes.

Some front-line employees at hotels I have trained say to me "our tongues are bloody!"  Well this is extreme, but the emotional and mental maturity to hold your tongue will always serve you and help you to hold on to your power.

DAS-H: Handle it and Move On

Do whatever you can to serve this guest and move on, do not dwell on the situation and play it over in your mind or make calls about it, or tell family and friends about this horrible guest encounter you had today. 

When you replay this in your mind you experience all the stress over and over.  Let it go.  Handle it and forget about it.

Gay Lynn Williamson-Grigas, CEO of Grigas Consulting and author of Trigger-Proof Your Way to Success: 12 Tools to Keep Your Cool and Confidence in the Workplace,  corporate trainer and psychologist. Email grigasconsulting@gmail.com.  Visit www.Trigger-Proof.com

For training or speaking engagements in the Hospitality Industry contact Kennedy Training Network a trusted training provider in the industry at 954-981-7689 or www.KennedyTrainingNetwork.com
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