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How to gain control and close the deal

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in Workplace Communication

“Closing the deal” means clarifying expectations at the end of any conversation. And it’s a tactic that will help you avoid wasted energy and conflict, says Laurie Puhn, author of Instant Persuasion.

For example:

Say you have an issue with a charge on a recent bill. You call the office that issued the bill to point out the error. After the customer service rep looks up your information, and you explain the problem, the rep says, “OK. I’ll talk to the account manager and have this corrected.”

You feel relieved and thank the rep. Next month you receive the bill again, with the error still on it. This time, you call the office that sent the bill, and you close the deal.

When the customer service rep (a different one this time) offers to talk to the account manager and have the problem resolved, you say, “I’d like us to work out the specifics of where we’re going from here. Are you saying that you will speak to the account manager and correct the mistake, or that you’re going to pass this billing issue to someone else?”

The rep says, “I’ll speak to the manager myself.”

You say, “Today?”

The rep says, “I’ll try. If not today, then tomorrow.”

You say, “Thank you. Would you please call me after you speak to him to let me know that this matter is cleared up? If I’m not in, leave me a message.”

Then you add, “And could I please get your direct phone number? If for some reason I don’t hear from you by 4 p.m. tomorrow, can I call you?”

The rep says, “Sure.”

In this way, you’ve designed the conversation so that the agreement is clear, and the other party has committed to your plan. Even if he doesn’t fulfill his end of the bargain, you still have some control over the situation.

You’ve closed the deal.

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