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Cindy Ventrice Posted by Cindy Ventrice.

Cindy Ventrice is a management consultant and workshop leader with over 20 years of experience. Through her company, Potential Unlimited, she helps organizations improve performance by improving work relationships.


Jeroen Moes, Creative Commons 2.0

When expressing dissatisfaction with a relationship, the issue brought up most frequently is a sense of not being listened to. For most of us, being heard is our first priority. Having our problem solved comes in a distant second.

Do you listen carefully? It can make a big difference. Not long ago, I was on the phone with an unfamiliar travel agent. He was very abrupt and was bordering on being rude. His bad attitude was leaking right through the phone lines.

I admit it, I found myself getting annoyed. I considered giving him a piece of my mind. I’m good at self-righteous when I want to be. But instead of lecturing him on customer service or asking to speak to his supervisor, this time I took a different approach.

I was quiet for a moment and then said, “You sound upset.” I waited. He was quiet for a moment. Then he softly replied, “It’s just so frustrating. Several people are out of the office today and the receptionist keeps sending me all of their customers, and I have to book thirty flights for my own customers before this afternoon.”

That was the whole interaction. Twenty seconds, then we finished our business. He was calm and pleasant. I was calm and pleasant. I didn’t solve his problem. I just recognized that something was bothering him and then listened. We both benefited. And just maybe, a few other customers benefited from his improved disposition as well.


  • Avoid jumping to conclusions. There is often more than one right answer.
  • Listen with empathy. Make the other person’s emotions at least as important as your own.
  • Allow yourself to understand the other person’s point of view. Be willing to shift your perspective, if only for a few moments.

Cindy Ventrice is the author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works (Berrett-Koehler, 2003). A speaker, trainer, and consultant with over twenty years’ experience, Cindy works with organizations to solve employee morale issues. You can learn more at: www.maketheirday.com.