Coach's Corner

Michelle Gladieux, president of Gladieux Consulting (team training and executive coaching), answers your questions about communicating strategically.
Michelle Gladieux
Coach's Corner

Hi Michelle,
I’ve heard some pretty rude things said to customers lately, and it’s a poor reflection on all of us. How do I get co-workers to see that their words matter?

Thanks for the great question. 

When a co-worker is unprofessional as a communicator, I agree with you that it affects their reputation, and your company’s standing as well. Spoken and written words carry energy. Language and tone have the power to build up or tear down relationships, and make or break service. 

Your team serves both external customers – those paying to do business with you who are affected by your attitude and skill – and internal customers – those paid to work with you affected by your attitude and skill. A question for all readers: with which group are you more professional and intentional about words and tone? What might you do to better serve those you overlook?

Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote: “Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.” A helpful challenge for all of us, don’t you think?

During Customer Communication training events, we offer exercises to help participants polish their interactions. You’re welcome to share this one with your team. I recommend you do so humbly, acknowledging that you’re far from perfect, just like them.

Instructions: List a few details about a recent encounter you had with a customer. 

To whom were you speaking or writing, and about what? Briefly document the situation, then write one small way you might have improved your part of the communication, even by a small margin, obvious to you now since hindsight is closer to 20-20.

Audience members around the U.S. have shared some great answers this year, including:

  • I could have avoided saying something rudely
  • I would have gathered more facts first before making up my mind
  • I might have shown more empathy instead of sounding arrogant
  • I would have picked up the call sounding like I cared (ouch!)
  • I forgot to thank the person and could have used their name
  • I interrupted several times, could have slowed down a bit
  • It would have been helpful to my co-worker if I had followed up sooner
  • Probably should have prepared before I made the call, then prepared the person I transferred to

If you choose to bring demonstrated rudeness up to a colleague, do so with a light heart and state your motive – “I’m offering feedback because I know you care about your reputation,” and “Please let me know what you see that I can improve” is a smart way to broach the topic. 


We’ll never get it right every time, but we can strive to set an example as we journey though life. At GC, our goal for every interaction includes 3 P’s: positive, poised, professional communication. Join us! It’s a worthy goal. 

Are you dealing with a career or communication challenge?

If you’ve got a question, write to for publication consideration. Questions remain confidential and anonymous. 

FW Neuro

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