Every now and then we can find ourselves in a position where we have to deal with multiple customers – a board of directors; a committee; a husband and wife making a purchase; a family faced with a decision; a group of friends trying to agree on something; etc. They each have questions and different concerns, and they each want to be heard. Whether you’re selling something or in a customer service/support role, it’s a situation can quickly go sideways if not controlled properly.

The dynamics of dealing with a group of people is quite different than dealing with an individual. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Things to do:

1. Make sure that you’re patient, and listen to everyone.

2. When someone verbalizes an opinion different than yours, always acknowledge, and be respectful of, their perspective.

3. Control the interaction by asking relevant, open-ended questions.

4. Try and make sure that everyone is engaged.

5. Don’t voice your opinion unless you are asked – and even then, temper it.

Things to avoid:

1. Resist the temptation to try and identify the “primary decision maker.” In group decisions everyone plays a role, and trying to focus on one individual can be counter-productive.

2. Resist the temptation to argue. You don’t want to put someone in a position where they might look stupid in front of friends, family or peers.

3. Don’t take sides if two people in the group are disagreeing.

4. Don’t talk too much. Never pass up an opportunity to shut up.

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