Larsen’s Words – Some GREAT, Some Not So Much

As a motivational speaker I am in a LOT of hotels and experience first hand some fabulous customer service, and some that is not-so-fabulous.  And I remember quite vividly something that happened a while back that taught me a LOT about communication.

When I told the front desk clerk at the hotel where I was speaking that there were two boxes for me in the hotel holding area, and asked her to please have them brought to the table in front of the large ballroom, the first words out of her mouth were, (with a slightly condescending tone) “That’s vague.”


There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Oooooh.  I am so sorry that I was vague.  What a bad, bad customer I am.  Banish me to the broom closet right now.”

Instead I said….

Words That Work (in response to what feels like a put down)

 Wow.  That sounded accusatory and harsh.  Was that your intention?”

Moral of the story:  When someone says something to you that sounds _____ (demeaning, flip, condescending, sarcastic, etc.), don’t let it slide and say nothing.  Simply respond in your most clear, unemotional, and straightforward way, “That sounded ______.  Was that your intention?”

Words That WOULD HAVE Worked Great (if she’d only known)

The clerk could have created a much, much happier customer if she had said (with a warm smile on her face), “No problem.  Are you referring to the Crystal Ballroom?  And will you be at the table to receive them?”

Ahhhhhhh.  Nice.

From your hyper-vigilant motivational speaker, Linda Larsen, listening intently for what works – and what doesn’t


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. This is so true, Linda. And as a motivational speaker, I teach people that even before the right words comes the right motive. If people had a genuine motivation to serve, it would be a lot easier to use the right words!

  2. How about ANY words!!  I am so thankful to you motivational speakers on communication because I just experienced, well, is it customer service when they don’t look at you once or speak one word???  Seriously, I went through the checkout line at Office Max with my 1 item (I love new spiral-bound-at-the-top notebooks) and I had a feeling this girl wasn’t going to go the distance so I put her to the test.
    “Hi!”, I said with a welcoming smile as she turned towards me with eyes cast down.  Nothing.   Since I was using a debit card there wasn’t any need for her to tell me the total.  More silence.  She bagged my purchase and put the receipt in the bag and handed it to me.  Still no eye contact.  “Thank you!”, I said as I took the bag from her.  Silence as she turned away.  Unbelievable.  I guess the silver lining is that big companies will always need you brilliant speakers to improve their customer service!

    • Wow, Polly.  How crazy is THAT!  I actually just had that happen recently at a Starbucks (where they are usually so nice.)  She didn’t look up, seemed very “stern” and distant.  Usually I try to open a conversation by saying something like, “I’ll be you’ll be glad when this day is over.”  But since her eyes looked all bloodshot, I thought maybe it was something different.  So I said, “Allergies bothering you today?  Mine sure are.”  She shook her head and when she did, I could see tears rolling down her cheeks.  I felt AWFUL!!!!  I said, “I’m so sorry – whatever it is – and hope it will be better for you soon.”
      So good for you for being nice to her when she clearly didn’t want to interact with anyone.  We just never know what sad thing might have just happened in their life! 

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