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Dealing with Difficult Clients

Mar 1, 2019

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You are speaking with a client or customer and suddenly the conversation turns sour. They are curt, flippant and aggressive. You try and keep the discussion track but it seems like you have lost control of the situation. How do you bounce back when it seems like a bridge is starting to burn right before your eyes? A difficult customer can ruin anyone’s day, especially if they personally insult you, but here are some tricks to help you salvage the situation and hopefully smooth over any hard feelings.

It is hard when a customer goes on the attack right away and your first reaction is to get defensive. Instead of hearing what they are trying to say, your brain immediately searches for reasons that they are wrong and you are right. Or you anticipate what they are going to say next and try and prevent it. If someone is mad at you, or the company that you represent, chances are they are not wanting someone to start contradicting them. Instead, begin listening to their concerns and rephrasing it in a way that shows that you understand and are willing to help. Instead of saying “I get what you are saying, but…” You can lead with “So what I am hearing is that you are frustrated because…” This changes the tone and creates a better dynamic.

Be Patient
When in a professional setting, always take the higher road. There are times when you might want to lash out at someone, especially if you feel like you are being attacked or treated unfairly. Yelling, swearing, or resorting to physical violence will never remedy the situation, only make it worse. You will more than likely lose your job and get the company in trouble. If someone flies off the handle, then it is up to you to remain calm and not escalate the situation. If you ever feel like you are in danger, then get immediate help and remove yourself from the area as soon as possible. People respect others who don’t lose their temper in stressful circumstances, and it will only reflect poorly on the customer, not you.

Think Ahead
This might be the most difficult process of the situation: the solution. Instead of throwing out a quick solution that won’t solve the root of the problem, implore the client to help you come with an answer that will work for both of you. It is even ok to admit that you don’t have the perfect answer right away and that you need time to contemplate your next step. It may come off to the customer that you are not taking the matter seriously and trying to brush it off, but not rushing into things will save you a lot of stress in the future. Even going to far as to thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention will make them less hostile and more willing to work with you in the future. Luckily for you, creating solutions is our specialty.

It’s no secret that having a disagreement with someone can ruin your day. If you remain calm, professional, and attentive will help you remain in control of the situation. Try not to take their accusations personally and just remember that sometimes people can be stubborn, egotistical and unreliable. But don’t let that become the lens that you begin to view the world with. Instead, try and combat anger with understanding, impatience with patience, and negativity with optimism.

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