Positive Engagement

Figure 1: Positive Engagement Process

As human resource professionals, people regularly come to us for some type of assistance.  On a regular basis, employees need information about programs, procedures, and services; advice on an issue in the workplace; and help with a frustrating or negative situation.  Employees and managers alike come to human resources for help with a problem.  When the characteristics of the problem pushes an employee beyond his or her ability to internalize the situation, frustration, anxiety, and anger results.

When a manager or employee comes to you angered from a policy, process, or event, how do you react? Most of us by design go into battle mode and want to give anger for anger.  If someone yells at us, we want to yell back even louder.  Part of our natural defense mechanism centers on establishing positions or control of a situation when we interact with others.  If someone is aggressive, a deep-seated defensive mechanism activates itself.

Nevertheless, most of us realize that “giving it back” may not be the most productive alternative even if it feels good in the short term.  One of the best approaches involves using the interaction to turn a negative situation positive.  When someone has a problem or issue, the interaction begins from a perceived negative.  This negative stimulus creates the opportunity for a positive response.

Positive Engagement is a method of interaction that focuses on being a positive resource to those in need by resolving problems or issues in the most positive manner possible.  It increases customer satisfaction, reduces conflict, and improves professionalism.  The key elements include the following:

Method – a process or approach to use when assisting customers

Interaction – interplay between you and the customer (how to relate, speak, and interact)

Resource – emphasizes your value to the customer as a resource or tool for resolving their issue

Problem resolution – brings their issue or problem to a positive closure

Positive Engagement combines a positive attitude and process to guide the transformation of negative feelings to positive.  Attitude pertains to a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, event, activities, and ideas.  By adopting a positive attitude, the interaction turns less negative as the anger fails to receive an encouraging response.  The process encompasses a set of interrelated tasks that when followed produce a positive outcome.

Positive engagement follows specific steps during the interaction:

Acknowledges problem – identify and reiterate the problem to the caller

Reassures the Person– apologize for the issue and reassure the person that a solution will be found

Uses Constructive Listening – listens to the issue and the associated details in an active fashion

Assesses Needs – determines the nature of the problem; assesses the personality, predisposition, and personal state of the person; and identifies the need in one sentence

Identifies the Solution – selects the best solution taking into account viable, legal alternatives and the persons needs and predisposition

Ensures Resolution – restates the issue or problem, proposed solution, and asks if the issue has been resolved

Next time you encounter an unhappy employee or manger, try it.

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