These 4 relationship poisons can negatively impact your TCF programme

Relationship building is at the heart of Treating Customers Fairly. Healthy relationships, with both customers and stakeholders, help improve retention and build confidence in the brand.

The 4 relationship poisons that damage your relationships and kill your TCF compliance:

1. Criticism: criticism attacks character, and is normally not related to an action. Instead of something specific like “You didn’t deliver this document on time.” criticism tends to be absolute “You are always late delivering, you just don’t care about anyone but yourself ….”  These attacks suggest underlying issues in our relationships. Sentence that start with “You should … ; You always …. ; You never …” make us defensive and lead to stonewalling. Avoid these absolute statements and focus on the specific issue or behaviour. Use balanced feedback to help ensure the message is not just a venting attack. Even when someone under-performs – they are still a human being.

2. Stonewalling: The fight or flight effect shows up when we become overwhelmed (or our system becomes flooded by adrenaline), and it becomes easier to shut down (or become defensive) than engage. This is often our automated response when we feel nagged or attacked. We we stonewall we tend to ignore all communication and tun inwards (“talk to the hand”). This does help with customer or employee relationships.

3. Being defensive: Becoming defensive is the other automated response when we feel attacked. “Well… you don’t always finish tasks on time either!” which can quickly escalate to criticism “You always change your mind at the last minute, its your indecisiveness that makes all our projects late.” This escalation is aimed at distracting them from their attack and placing the focus back on them.

4. Contempt: escalating criticism by adding negative non-verbals (tone and body language). The intention of contempt is to insult, and results in a form of psychological abuse. It can include name calling, malicious teasing, eye rolling or derisive comments but over time these elements will cripple your relationship. “You only care about yourself, you are so self centred <with an eye roll and derisive sneer>” According to Dr. J. Gottman contempt is the clearest indicator that a relationship is in trouble. Contempt shows toxic distress in the relationship, above all other indicators.

These 4 relationship poisons make it harder to connect with employees and customers. Toxic relationships make it hard to keep talented employees and valuable customers, they vote with their feet and leave, or refuse to work with you.  Actively counteracting these poisons through a more human approach, being supportive and acknowledging their value in your life can help you grow your relationships, create customer loyalty and team success.

Based on the relationship work by John Gottman – The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (1999) &  Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage (2006).

Balanced feedback (see article)is the antidote to relationship poisons. Demonstrate to your customers and employees that you value them giving positive and constructive feedback. See the whole person, rather than only focussing on the negative.

The 4 TCF relationship poisons Infographic

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