Ten Key Points to Consider When Dealing with Difficult Customers
Written by Diane Pinkard
Valuable information for all those that have a hard time keeping their emotions out thier difficult encounter.
There will always be difficult people! No matter how “people-smart” you believe you are, most likely you will continue to encounter difficult people and tough situations. So instead of letting these troubling circumstances anger and frustrate you, view these challenges as your best teachers for learning valuable lessons. Rather than focus your awareness on their negative behavior, direct your attention back toyourself.
When you are willing to confront your own struggles, you are opening yourself up for a marvelous opportunity to acquire great sales tools and personal gifts—the lessons learned from yourdifficult experiences. Silently thank your difficult customers and most challenging encounters, for these golden learning opportunities will offer you the chance to raise your level of personal and professional excellence.
Keeping the following points in mind when dealing with difficult customers will also help you,keep peace of mind.
ü Today our world feels like it is gyrating out of control. Life has become hectic, and very chaotic. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed causes people to act and react in unpleasant ways. Just to accomplish mundane tasks often seems stressful. Therefore, it is important that you learn to emotionally separate yourself from your customer’s personal dramas, poor attitudes, and bad behaviors. When people are offensive, do not take their actions personally. Difficult people are hurting far worse than the people they are hurting!
ü Remember, as adults we are just kids in big bodies. Consciously or unconsciously, we all have needs that must be met to make things feel right. And when things don’t feel right, just like a child, we may act up and run off. So pay attention to your troubling interactions with upset clients, and if too many of your prospects are walking, you had better make some changes to your style of talking.
ü Remove yourself emotionally from challenging encounters by seeing yourself as an observer rather than a victim. Consciouslyseparate your emotions from theirs and stay focused on theproblem so you can move to resolution. Set imaginary boundariesthat you won’t allow your angry customer to penetrate. Don’t respond to their angry emotions, for reacting to them willonly perpetrate more ire. Remember, their emotional agenda and behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you!
ü When you have an angry customer, whatever you do, do not fall into their wrath. Bullies are really cowards in disguise; theyget a power charge from acting like “drama queens.” They lack thetools and/or skills for personal empowerment, so they resort totheir primitive instincts and roar. If you dare to involve yourselfand strike back, all you are really doing is using them as anopportunity to vent your own frustrations and angers. Always keepin mind that it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you chooseto do with what happens to you. It is not what people say to you, it is what you allow yourself to hear.
ü Keep your feelings out of your difficult interactions, completely! Whatever you do, don’t tell difficult people one single thing about what you are feeling! It’s so tempting to want to tell them how their bad behavior is affecting you, but don’t. Why not? The answer is simple: they don’t really care. And that’s because, if they had healthy feelings of self-worth and positive regards for self-respect they wouldnever disgrace themselves by demeaning you in the first place.
ü By exposing your feelings, you are letting them know you are taking their bad behavior personally. In return, their interpretation is, their bad behavior is working—they are getting to you, and that is exactly what they want to do. Now the focus of attention has totally shifted to the wrong place; the focus is on your upset feelings and not on the troubling business issue at hand—solving their problem. Remain emotionally detached from their bad behavior, stay focused on the troubling issue at hand, and reserve your energy for problem solving.
ü Successful solutions come from fostering the positive, not by attacking the negative. When a problem unexpectedly blasts intoyour calm domain, remain stable and choose peace. Don’t dwellon the negative or fuel the fire. Instead, honor the grievance andbegin to seek solutions as efficiently as possible. Problems canonly be resolved when you are calm, stable, and confident. A positive approach gives you the best opportunity forrenewing optimism and creating the win-win solutions you andyour customer both want.
ü When you have an angry customer, respond in a constructive manner. Whether in person, on the telephone, or in an email, acknowledge theiranger and give them the opportunity to express their frustrations.Remember, anger is simply a manifestation of fear, hate, or frustration. So allow the angry person the chance to vent; give them reasonable time to air their grievances. Validate their problem andparaphrase their words back to them so they know you are really listening. Acknowledge their feelings for being upset by saying, “Yes, you have every right to feel the way you do.” This is an easy thing to do, and it makes a world of difference.
ü Literally, listen to your own heart. If you are not in touch with yourself, how can you hope to connect or resolve issues with others? While you are taking your few seconds away from your angry customer to regain your composure, pay attention to your heart rate and other physical signs that reflect anxiety or stress. Literally breathe into these parts of your body and sensations. If necessary, physically remove yourself and step outside or into another room. Continue to breathe deeply and move so you can reconnect with your personal power. If you allow yourself to become physically and/or emotionally charged along with your troubled client, you will succumb to trouble. And that is certainly not where you want to be! Maintain your emotional IQ and visualize a win-win outcome!
ü Never be afraid to apologize. Practice this simple wisdom: When you are right, say nothing. When you are wrong, apologize. If you don’t know when it is right for you to apologize, ask yourself, “Is what I just did the right thing to have done? Would I like that if someone said that to me?” If your answer is “No,” apologize with sincere accountability and heart!
Diane Marie Pinkard