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client discussions

Sorry for the infrequent posting, when I do end up getting downtime, I try and stay away from computers. Still backed up on questions - on to the December 2011 questions...

When you encounter errors during your testing, how do you address it to the client in a nonconfrontational manner? As gentle as I try to be, as non threatening and polite as I try to phrase any questions, it's still always a difficult topic to breach with clients and some people get defensive(yelling, being generally dismissive, or sometimes shutting down conversation completely!). Since this is anonymous I don't feel the need to be modest...I can't help thinking that part of this problem is I happen to be pretty cute and the menfolk don't like looking incompetent in front of the hot auditor lady. It's hard because sometimes I find myself playing dumb and speaking in a lower tone as to not come off aggressive or condescending in any matter and still be able to get the information I need, but honestly, I die a little inside every time I do this, and I'm a little sick of placating people's egos. Any advice? And how do your hot lady coworkers handle this sort of thing? 

How does one tell the client that they messed up? Do not act like you found something huge and do not take pride it in front of them. Understand that we are independent but at the end of the day we are in the client service business. I've dealt with all sorts of client personalities, and it gets really hard. Be very nice to them and say something on the lines of  - 'I think this is off', or "I may be wrong, but there might be a mistake here." If they get defensive and say there's nothing wrong, ask if they can explain their thought process behind the issue, and correct them where necessary. Avoid doing this through emails, tones sometimes never come off the way you want it to be conveyed. If they keep getting defensive and you're not getting through (trust me, I've been there), just go up to your superiors and tell them the issue at hand, so they can talk to the client. It's good practice doing it yourself. I've had clients who I've had really good discussions with, so we can walk through the guidance and I can point out where they're wrong, and I've had clients who know they are wrong but just get defensive and say they are not going to change it. It gets really frustrating, but it's part of the client service game, as much as we want to yell at them, we can't. At the same time, be assertive in your answers, and be confident, so they understand you know what you're talking about.It's a fine line.

As far as the second part of the question goes, 70% of me thinks this question is in jest, but let me humor you. Attractive coworkers have what's called the halo effect going for them. The Halo effect, according to Wikipedia (yes, yes, not a true source, but whatever, this isn't a paper), is "a cognitive bias that involves one trait influencing others in one's judgement of another person or object. Although numerous interpersonal dimensions are involved, the halo effect is most commonly observed along the dimension of physical attractivenessUsing this as an example of the halo effect, the benefits of physical attractiveness are implicitly assumed to pervade all aspects of an attractive person's life. In this case, the halo effect states that physically attractive individuals are assumed to possess more socially desirable traits, live happier lives, and become more successful than unattractive people. Similarly, physically unattractive individuals are assumed to be less intelligent, friendly, happy, and successful than their attractive peers." I think this explains itself. At the end of the day, as long as you are assertive and convince them that you know what you're doing, they'll start respecting you more. The more the intelligent conversations you have with them, the more their respect level for you goes up.


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