How to Be an Ally

All of us encounter opposition. We may even be in a situation where we find that it invites negative emotion or friction. Customer Service Representatives and those who work with the public in service fields including medical and sales areas often experience opportunities to create an ally from an 'enemy!'


  1. Image titled Be an Ally Step 1
    Envision things from more than one point of view. This is a good thing to practice at all times. At home in petty arguments, all the way to court with high powered lawyers, this technique is helpful, but psychologists also employ this technique with counselling marriages and other relationships as well. Often people who are experiencing problems simply because they are not truly listening to the other person are asked to simply restate in his or her words what the person just said. If they cannot effectively do this, it simply proves they are not listening and this can be further dealt with. For our purposes, we want to know how we can become an ally with an angry customer, parent, patient, etc. The first step is clear: LISTEN. Be able to also understand what you heard. Try to listen with your heart in the way you always do everyday but also from some new standpoint as well. Trying to see another's viewpoint is important for all of us as an exercise! It will help us all to envision reasons for things we normally would not have taken the time to do. Crimes committed reported in the newspaper are a good example. For the sake of empathy, discuss them. See if you can bat around the motives possible for reactions that led to murder, crime or incidents. You can also employ imagination. Envision you are the person to gain empathy. Picture all the details you can conjure up to enter into your decision on the matter. Can you now see a different side? It is important to practice.
  2. Image titled Be an Ally Step 2
    Next, evaluate your technique at each turn. If you are in a Customer Service Position, keep track of your successes or failures call by call or encounter at a time. Tell yourself when you were winning and losing and what you did that made the real difference. Take a tip from National Customer Relations experts who deal with a variety of irate customers: Listen, agree, restate the feelings of the complaining individual and treat them with respect for how they feel and the situation in which they find themselves. Never take the defensive, never begin talking while the individual is explaining or complaining. Instead, adopt a thought that you are sure he or she is reasonable but driven to this screaming lunatic of a customer rightfully! Never criticize or agree that your company is negligent for legal reasons but agree with the fact that it has made the customer feel badly and that you would have done the very same thing.
  3. Image titled Be an Ally Step 3
    Now you have proven you could listen, restate the real problem and allowed the person to explain. Apologize for inconvenience sincerely and offer a real life situation. If you cannot totally offer resolution of the company because of its policy, then make sure at least when you hang up the phone that he or she is still aligned with YOU as someone who cares, listens and TRIES and you will always be aligned with the customer even if they no longer are with the company, and the company also cannot fault you for this. Explain policy and that you will do everything you can.
  4. Image titled Be an Ally Step 4
    If it is a personal relationship, it is the same. Listen, try to truly understand and make sure it is obvious you are attempting to actively do something about it regardless of the effort. TRY HARD


  • Do not bash the company if you are in customer service. You now have totally aligned with your customer but you do not want to speak into a recorded call negatively against the company. This would turn around and bite you! Instead, explain this is the company policy but that you will try all you can or even refer their complaint upward in management but that you are aware it is policy for some GOOD reasons, stating if possible. You want to be sure also that the person with the complaint, either personally or professionally is legitimate. If someone has a point of view that is truly unable to be reconciled with your honest opinion AFTER listening very well, ask QUESTIONS to establish the legitimacy of the complaint. If it proves not to be legitimate, do not agree and yet remain non-threatening and non-confrontational, keeping conversational and OPEN.
  • Treat others as you would have them treat you goes a very long way to trying to be empathetic, and empathy is the true KEY to being an ACTUAL ALLY. The reasons for BEING an ally is to ensure a smooth progression of events and gain friends all along the way!

Article Info

Categories: Sales | Managing Negative Feelings