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August 2018

You might want to rephrase that

YouMightWanttoRephraseThat.jpg‭By Whitney Reid Pennell, President RCS HOSPITALITY GROUP

Famed restaurateur Danny Meyer says, “Service is the technical delivery of a product.  Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel.”

Are you putting the same time and attention into the delivery of your in-person messages? How you say it – the delivery – matters in how your message is received.

The most obvious way to improve the message is to use positive words, and avoid the negative ones like can’t, unable or impossible. Next, make sure your message is consistently presented through your words, body language and tone of voice. You can’t say helpful words while standing with your hands in your pockets or not smiling and still appear attentive and caring.

Consider the differences: “This project CANNOT be completed if you DON’T provide me with X Y and Z” – or this – “If you can provide me with X Y and Z, we can complete the project on time.”

Remaining focused on what can be done, rather than what can’t happen, sounds more hospitable.  Use caution also with words that can sound forceful and scolding, like “should” or “you have to.”

When faced with service recovery situations or customer conversations, if you begin the sentence with “I can” or “You can,” it is possible to find an alternative and positive solution.

Consider this exchange upon a customer’s arrival: “I forgot my golf glove. Do you have any?”
As a customer, which response sounds more hospitable and helpful?

“Nope. We don’t have them here, you HAVE to go to the golf shop.” – or – “You can get everything you need for your round today, including a glove, at the golf shop. I can show you where it’s located.”

Consider creating common situations or scenarios that happen at your club and use them as role-playing examples with your team.

Think of role-playing practice like a sports drill for a team – when the ball is snapped, the movements should be instinctual because they have been practiced over and over.

Whitney Reid Pennell is a management consultant, educator and speaker. For more information, phone 623-322-0773 or go to


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