5 Action Ideas to Deal with Difficult People

Jan 15 19:43 2006 Alan Fairweather Print This Article

Do you find it stressful dealing with difficult people? This article provides five simple steps that will show you how to deal with difficult customers, colleagues, or your boss!

When was the last time you had to deal with a difficultcustomer? It was probably and external customer but perhapsit was an internal customer,Guest Posting such as a member of your team,a colleague or even - your boss!

I'm sure that you always want to provide exceptional serviceto both your internal and external customers. However, inthe real world, things go wrong and mistakes are made. These "customers" will often judge your level of servicebased on how you respond to a mistake. Do it well andthey'll probably forgive you and possibly even say positivethings about your business or your abilities to otherpeople.

The important thing to realise when dealing with an upsetcustomer, be they internal or external, is that you must -deal with their feelings, then deal with their problem.Upset customers are liable to have strong feelings when you,your product or service lets them down and they'll probablywant to "dump" these feeling on you.

You don't deal with their feelings by concentrating onsolving the problem, it takes more. Here are 5 action ideas that deal with the customers' humanneeds:

1 - Don't let them get to you - Stay out of it emotionallyand concentrate on listening non-defensively and actively.Customers may make disparaging and emotional remarks - don'trise to the bait.

2 - Listen - listen - listen - Look and sound like yourlistening. The customer wants to know that you care and thatyou're interested in their problem.

3 - Stop saying sorry - Sorry is an overused word, everyonesays it when something goes wrong and it's lost its value. How often have you heard - "Sorry 'bout that, give me thedetails and I'll sort this out for you". Far better to say"I apologise for ......" And if you really need to use thesorry word, make sure to include it as part of a fullsentence. "I'm sorry you haven't received that informationas promised Mr Smith". (It's also good practise to use thecustomers name in a difficult situation).

4 - Empathise - Using empathy is an effective way to dealwith the customers feelings. Empathy isn't about agreement,only acceptance of what the customer is saying and feeling.Basically the message is - "I understand how you feel".Obviously this has to be a genuine response, the customerwill realise if you're insincere and they'll feelpatronised.Examples of empathy responses would be - "I can understandthat you're angry", or "I see what you mean".Again, these responses need to be genuine.

5 - Build rapport - Sometimes it's useful to add anotherphrase to the empathy response, including yourself in thepicture. - "I can understand how you feel, I don't like iteither when I'm kept waiting". This has the effect ofgetting on the customer's side and builds rapport.Some customer service people get concerned with thisresponse as they believe it'll lead to - "Why don't you dosomething about it then". The majority of people won'trespond this way if they realise that you're a reasonableand caring person. If they do, then continue empathising and tell the customerwhat you'll do about the situation. "I'll report this to mymanager" or "I'll do my best to ensure it doesn't happen inthe future".

Make no mistake about it; customers, be they internal orexternal, are primarily driven by their emotions. It'stherefore important to use human responses in anyinteraction particularly when a customer is upset or angry. If customers like you and feel that you care, then they'remore likely to accept what you say and forgive yourmistakes.

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Alan Fairweather
Alan Fairweather

Alan Fairweather -"The Motivation Doctor" - is the author of
"How to get More Sales Without Selling" To receive your free
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