We all know it is easy being kind with kind costumers. However, how does one react to complaints, threats, manipulation, cursing, grumbling, overgeneralization, stubbornness and other uncomfortable behaviors by the costumers, where the mere kindness is not enough? And how does one save their mental and physical health if they waste their energy working with these kinds of customers? The ‘Novi Sad – City of Kindness’ project was initiated with an aim to find a solution in contemporary business psychology, offer psychological support and get enough people for promoting kind and professional way of behaving.
The idea is to educate workers who provide services to the citizens (workers in culture, tourism, catering industry, taxi drivers, counter clerks, public transport drivers…), in order for them to become promoters of kindness and subsequently set new standards of culture of behaving in Novi Sad, the future European capital of culture.
In the first phase of the project, during this year, six trainings titled ‘Communication with Difficult Customers’ have been planned. The trainings will be open to about one hundred participants. Early this year, the first two cycles were implemented in the cultural stations Egység and Svilara, while the rest of them were held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. The third cycle of the training was held last week, while the fourth one will be implemented tomorrow, on the 17th of November.
‘After the two classic 12-hour, small group trainings were held during February and March this year, and after the break during which we all hoped the pandemic will end soon, we decided to adjust our programme of education to this new reality, adhering to all recommended measures of prevention. The programme includes participants’ preparatory work, a three-hour webinar and additional literature, as well as online office hours with the teacher after the webinar. The webinars are held in small groups involving from 12 up to 20 students. The first impressions are very good, the students are actively participating in the whole process and we’re trying to see the advantages of this kind of work together. During a webinar, we all agreed that, especially due to these difficult circumstances, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to join together and share our experiences and support each other in solving difficult situations regarding our jobs. Thus, psychological skills and knowledge in dealing with complicated and uncomfortable situations are very needed,’ said Vera Dunjić, author of the project, graduate psychologist and business communications coach.
Thematic framework of the training are differences between successful and unsuccessful communication, definition of a difficult customer, psychological advantages of being kind, how to establish trust with the customer, difficult situations when working with customers – based on examples and experiences, there are seven golden techniques of business communication.
For some workers participating in this project, this is the first kind of educational and psychological help that they got, as was the case for the ones working in the City Administration for General Affairs of the city of Novi Sad, who constantly provide services to the citizens in the City Hall, marriage officiants, clerks in offices and local communities, archivists, counsellors and managers who participated in the first tranings early this year. Currently, the trainings for cultural workers are being implemented.
After the educational cycles end, the promoters’ working spaces will be labeled ’Kindness Zone’.
The ‘Novi Sad – City of Kindness’ project is implemented by ‘Zona Ljubaznosti’ association and in cooperation with the ‘Dr Lazar Vrkatić’ Faculty of Legal and Business Studies with the support of the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation.
Photo: Uroš Dožić