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Answering Negative questions/Defusing Negative situations


I work in an insurance call centre and eight members of staff have just received recent promotions. I have been asked to give them training on defusing negative situations, from other co-workers and how a positive attitude can help in these matters and the work place.

Morale in a call centre can some times become low and some employees will make negative comments about the company. The reps that just got their promotions will have to deal with these situations; any suggestions would be very helpful.


2 Responses

  1. Should supervisors be doing this?
    Hi Catherine

    Great question

    For me I would not train these newly promoted people in this – sorry.
    This is a culture issue and if the organisation is asking these newly promoted people to take responsibility for this you will lose these and others very quickly, and productivity will drop.

    This is a senior management issue.

    I once worked for an organisation that had undergone a large change process that was very badly managed. 40% staff losses. The morale was at rock bottom and there was no managerial trust.

    If there is a negative attitude it is up to the most senior management to be seen ‘walking the floor’ and talking to people. Hear there concerns and most importantly of all take some action.

    In the situation mentioned above the name of the change project was a ‘banned’ phrase. The Director said to the management team that is gone, I do not want to hear about it,, lets forget it and move on. Great Idea BUT the staff were still grieving (read Kubler Ross change theory or see ) some 2 years later. I persuaded the director to talk about the ‘project’ in open forum, use the words again and point out that yes it was a big mistake and that we all had to do our best to build the business for all of our futures. He did. Within 2 months there was a noticeable difference. Obviously more activity was undertaken but this was the primary cause and made a substantial difference to the morale in the workplace.

    Being a first line manager or supervisor is in many ways the hardest possible job, they are no longer staff and not part of management in many organisations. They get little support yet are expected to solve problems created by staff and managers alike. Please do not put this impossible task on to them. Personally I advise companies not to promote people to lead their own teams. Some time ago I undertook an evaluation of this activity and showed the costs to be too high. Lead different teams – yes.

    Sorry this does not directly answer your request.

    What do others think?

    Good luck

  2. Culture yes, but give the individual the tools they need
    Hi Catherine

    I agree with what some of Mike has said, but there are some very effective methods which can be taught to help people both with developing a positive attitude and with diffusing negative situations.

    Whilst culture is certainly part of the story, one also needs to provide the individuals involved with ‘tools’ which will help them fulfil their roles and communicate effectively. It’s two-way traffic.

    For example, as far as negative comments about the company from colleagues are concerned simple techniques, such as ‘I can understand you may see it that way, but had you thought about…(positive statement)’ or even ‘I can see you’re frustrated with that particular situation, but I’ve found that complaining doesn’t help and it’s better to look for what’s good or to suggest an alternative in a positive way. How do you think we could handle it better?’

    The secret is to empathise with the other party first and then to try and divert them onto a more positive aspect of the situation so that a solution can be found or at least explored.

    There’s of course, much more to it than that and a positive attitude and positive language is so important in so many areas of life. If you’d like to know more, please contact me on


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