Negative or positive communication?

Yesterday I stopped to grab a coffee at a coffee shop, part of a local well known group. Nice looking merchandising, cozy atmosphere, prices over average. there were to employees serving at the counter, one of them was new and still in training and the other one was supporting in the learning process.

I order a latte at the trainee. There were five possible buttons to push, with specific symbols. He forgot which to press in order to prepare a latte and asks the colleague. I will try to rewrite the dialogue so you can get a better understanding of the situation.

A: Should I push this one?

B: No, the other one.

A: Which one, this one? And points towards a different button.

B: No, not that one.

A, already frustrated because there were several people waiting in line asks:

A: Tell me from one to five, left to right on which number to press?

B also frustrated, leaves the client that she was serving and goes over to take over what A was doing. A, although new in the job, proposes to switch places for now and he goes over to serve the client that B was serving before.

Negative communication is inefficient.

In this case, from customer’s perspective, it consumed a lot of time and me among the other clients had a bad customer experience.

From the coffee shop management’s perspective they got negative feedback because of the long waiting time and unprofessional conversation of their employees and also the learning process didn’t took place between the two colleagues, the same situation may happen again.

How the dialogue could have been different?

B should have answered to A:

Press the third button from the left!

If you wish to show to your colleagues the helplessness and frustration feeling that comes with negative communication, I propose to you to try the following game.

Minimum three participants required. The game begins when one person leaves the room. The rest of the group chooses a position that the person who left the room has to identify and mime. The person who left the room comes back in and starts to follow the instructions of the group in order to find out the position that he needs to mime. The group is allowed to give only negative instructions, for example:

Don’t stand.

Don’t sit.

Don’t keep the hands along your body. etc.

Afterwards you will have a discussion with the group how it felt.

Drop me a comment and let me know if you have tried it out!

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