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Author Topic: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part  (Read 2647 times)

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Green70000

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Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« on: November 28, 2015, 02:30:00 AM »
There was a recent post many people saw where a gas station attendance was smugly condescending to a furious customer who had his gas shut off after he began fueling. When he stated he was running on fumes she decided instead of directing him to the nearest station to "smile sweetly" and mock him with "a lack of planning on your part is not an emergency on mine." Leaving aside what lack of planning she was talking about (not carrying emergency tanks of gas? Not knowing the closing schedule of every gas station he might come across?) many posters didn't approve of her self-proclaimed "polite spine." The post can be read here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/?p=4755#comments

One person in the comments mentioned that the phrase, "I'm afraid that won't be possible" would be better used. So I ask, in what situations does one use "I'm afraid that won't be possible" and when is "a lack of planning on your part is not an emergency on mine" appropriate?

shhh its me

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2015, 03:13:51 AM »
  To your boss or a customer "A lack of planning..." is almost never appropriate, its an atom bomb. Its the very last ditch to remain polite but scathing.  It's as harsh as you can be without being rude. The phrase imparts a lot; I will not help you, because you caused your own difficulty. I will not help you because this is not my emergency.  It is not my responsibility to fix your mistake. It also implies; I don't care and I judged you not worthy of assistance.    Sometimes you need to tell someone "It is not my responsibility to fix your mistake."


Semperviren

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2015, 07:12:55 AM »
I agree with what shhh said.

Also, it's canned, a cliche, meme-speak. It comes off sounding smarmy.

Wittyone

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2015, 08:06:10 AM »
I would go as far as saying one should never say that aloud to another, for reasons already stated. It's a great thing to say to yourself, to help with the polite spine, so you can remember it's not your responsibility to fix other people's mistakes. But saying it out loud is rude and condescending.  I'm afraid that won't be possible is polite, pretty final and doesn't JADE.
California

Psychopoesie

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2015, 08:35:55 AM »
Agree with prevous posters. It's something I'd say to myself so I wouldn't cave in the face of unreasonable demands from others. Out loud, to the person, no way - comes across as sanctimonious.

It isn't a phrase I think of in every situation. It's more helpful in setting boundaries with people who are inclined to trample them. Sometimes I'm happy to drop everything and help someone out, even if their lack of planning played into the situation. Everyone stuffs up at times and I can only hope that others respond similarly to my own very human failings. If someone was in real trouble, I'd want to help if I could, not smack them down verbally when they were already stressed.

That won't be possible is neutral. So is saying sorry, I just can't be there/do that.

TootsNYC

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2015, 12:47:38 PM »
I see it in workplaces, and if I were a boss, the person who put it up would be in my office for a long discussion.

For one thing, in this age of layoffs and "nonessential staff" being let go, there is no better way to prove how valuable you are than by saving someone else's butt.

And...it comes across incredibly holier-than-thou. What, you never mess up? You never need someone to help you?

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2015, 02:05:15 PM »
My employer once hired a well-known customer service consultant to train all staff. One of her mantras was "the customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer." Which amounts to the same thing: you don't have to give into unreasonable demands, but it is possible to be firm without also being an [epithet]. You never know, the customer may actually come back.

I've actually seen that happen more than once. Someone who finally took "no" for an answer later came back because "even if they couldn't help me, they were polite about it."

Nutrax
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camlan

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2015, 04:12:31 PM »
I've had to train a variety of people for several different customer service roles, and if anyone I supervised said the "lack of planning line" to a customer or patron, I'd be upset.

Customers don't want to hear the word "no." Sometimes you have to tell them that. But if you do, then good customer service is to immediately offer them something else. "I'm sorry, that's not on sale today. But this [similar item] is." "No, I'm sorry, we don't have black fuzzy toe warmers, but we do have red ones and blue ones." What you are offering isn't exactly what they want, but a) it might be a reasonable substitute and b) the offer shows that you are trying to help them. That's all most customers want.

In the case of the gas station attendant, pointing the customer to the nearest open station wouldn't have lost their station the sale--they couldn't sell gas at that time. And the customer might have left their station thinking, "Gee, that was helpful. I'll have to remember that station," instead of "#%$^#%%#^ I will never go there again!"
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


sammycat

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2015, 04:31:34 PM »
I've had to train a variety of people for several different customer service roles, and if anyone I supervised said the "lack of planning line" to a customer or patron, I'd be upset.

Customers don't want to hear the word "no." Sometimes you have to tell them that. But if you do, then good customer service is to immediately offer them something else. "I'm sorry, that's not on sale today. But this [similar item] is." "No, I'm sorry, we don't have black fuzzy toe warmers, but we do have red ones and blue ones." What you are offering isn't exactly what they want, but a) it might be a reasonable substitute and b) the offer shows that you are trying to help them. That's all most customers want.

In the case of the gas station attendant, pointing the customer to the nearest open station wouldn't have lost their station the sale--they couldn't sell gas at that time. And the customer might have left their station thinking, "Gee, that was helpful. I'll have to remember that station," instead of "#%$^#%%#^ I will never go there again!"
My employer once hired a well-known customer service consultant to train all staff. One of her mantras was "the customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer." Which amounts to the same thing: you don't have to give into unreasonable demands, but it is possible to be firm without also being an [epithet]. You never know, the customer may actually come back.

I've actually seen that happen more than once. Someone who finally took "no" for an answer later came back because "even if they couldn't help me, they were polite about it."

I've been that customer who wasn't able to get what I was after, but was dealt with so politely and nicely, that I wanted to go back at a different time and become their customer (and have done so at a few establishments).

OTOH, someone like the attendant in the ehell blog linked in the OP was so smug, rude and condescending that it would ensure I never, ever, set foot in their premises again in my life and also put in a complaint about the employee.

Paper Roses

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2015, 04:46:05 PM »
Honestly, I really don't see that there's anything to be gained by telling someone that "a lack of planning on your part . . .".  I think it's rude, condescending, and mean.  And I think it just makes matters worse when we pat someone on the back for saying it. 

I know there are some people who are just unreasonable, of course.  But I don't think being a jerk back to them solves anything, and it just means there are two jerks in the interaction instead of one. 

I don't think there's anything wrong with making someone think you want to help them, and would if you could, but you just aren't able to.  Even if it's not true.  The gas station attendant said later in the story something like, "I work closing and not opening, so I don't really know how long it takes to restart the pumps . . ." after she said she told the customer it takes several minutes.  Which, ok, whatever.  She said that to get out of helping him.  But rather than being so smug, would it have killed her to say it with a less abrasive tone?  "I'm so sorry, but once the pumps are shut down for the night, we're just not able to restart them until the next day."  She would still have accomplished the same thing - not helping the customer.  But at least she wouldn't have appeared to get such satisfaction out of it.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2015, 05:50:46 PM »
I don't even think saying, literally, the words "That won't be possible," is not a pleasant-making thing either.  (for one thing, "won't" implies that you have decided it's not possible; there's a distinction with "it isn't possible," which implies the machines don't work that way or something)

Saying, "I'm so sorry--I can't," or "The store's policy doesn't allow for that" is much better. Especially in a customer-service arena.

cass2591

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Re: Not Possible vs. Not an Emergency on My Part
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2015, 07:57:06 PM »
There is already one thread focused on this topic, and that's enough.
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