By Chuck Inman
Remember those hot summer days as a kid chugging down a slurpee to cool down but having an incredible searing pain after a fast gulp? Remember how this physical brain freeze would render you useless for about 20 seconds until the pain went away?
There’s another type of brain freeze, which is a chemical reaction our brain performs when we’re under anxiety or stress. It's called a chemical brain freeze (CBF). This is a very primitive but effective way the brain copes with the stresses and difficulties in today’s chaotic world. Our brain is trying to keep us alive and it takes on the role of our triage center. Fight, flight or freeze, our brain will shut down the more complex thinking brain to get out of the situation and allow us to cope better. However we don’t always perform at our best when the brain shuts down the thinking mind.
Remember that time you got so mad you couldn’t think straight? Or was called on in a meeting and unprepared for the answer? These situations don’t have to be life threatening for brain freeze to happen. They can be as simple as having your computer shut down in front of customers.
When we’re prepared and “stay in the moment,” we utilize all of our mental resources available and get creative. When not prepared, you can impact your customers in a negative way. Your reaction to a stressful situation can cause your customers to react in a quick decisive way that has them leaving your business and not coming back. Here are four ways to help you connect with customers during stressful situations.
Take a moment. Stop what you’re doing for a moment and step back to analyze the situation. Recognize the fact that your customers will observe you whether you acknowledge them or not. So step back and try to gain an overall perspective of what’s happening at the moment.
Take a deep breath. Literally. By taking a deep breath you stop the chemical brain freeze that’s beginning to happen. Shallow breathing causes your heart to race and your brain to dump survival chemicals into your system. Deep breathing eliminates that process.
Engage the thinking brain . You can do this by asking yourself some key questions. What impact is this going to have on my customers? If I were a customer how would I feel? How would I want to be treated? What would be a simple solution from the customer’s perspective?
By asking these questions the thinking brain becomes engaged again and you can start using your creative resources to their capacity. You can start by asking them questions. Sometimes it’s a short-term solution, while other times it takes some longer-term decisions to meet their needs. Make sure your actions are directed toward helping them with their problem.
Be prepared for problems. This is especially true if a particular busy time or complex situation is anticipated. Run through some scenarios if things don’t go right or as planned. In a cockpit when the caution/warning signal flashes, the pilots have been trained to handle problems associated with signals. What options are available? How can you turn a less desirable situation into an opportunity to show the customer you care about his business and loyalty? The more prepared you are the better you’ll be at handling difficult situations.
Controlling chemical brain freezes are not easy. They typically happen when things don’t go according to plan. If you don’t take control of the situation you can wind up with unsatisfactory results. Know that this can happen to all of us and be prepared for something not to go right. The more we can anticipate something going wrong, the better prepared we are to help our customers during these difficult times.
Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Customer Connect with C.L.O.U.T Bringing Value to your Customers” is a dynamic program that’s addresses key challenges in today’s world. He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. For more information, visit www.chuckinman.com .