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Changing Your Base Assumptions

I was chatting with an awesome member of our team at Automattic, Sarah, the other day about handling frustrated users in live chat. She has an amazing talent for staying calm (likely developed during her years as a teacher).

When asked about how she stays so unperturbed, she replied that she starts from the assumption that everyone is there to learn. Every customer at WordPress.com is there precisely because they want to build their site and establish their voice online. With that frame of mind, frustration presents an opportunity to teach.

Our base set of assumptions impacts how we interpret situations. The right assumptions can drastically impact our behavior.

For customers, assume that they signed up for your product or service specifically because they want to use it. They’re open to learning. Frustration presents opportunities for improvement. Switch from “How on earth do they not get it?” to “Where did we drop the ball? How are we letting this person down?”

For colleagues, assume that they want to do their best work. Actions to the contrary aren’t signs of malice. They’re opportunities to say, “Where did this go wrong?” and “How did I incentivize the wrong behavior?”

Regardless of the situation, here two base assumptions to operate from:

  1. Everyone is trying to do their best work.
  2. Everyone wants to have an impact and feel valued.

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