by Valerie J. Wilson
Being in business means that you are going to have to deal with all types of personalities. It would benefit every CEO to have a PhD in psychology, as well, but that’s not too feasible, now, is it?
That’s the name of the game in dealing with difficult clients and co-workers, though. Learning how to diffuse, adjust, negotiate, and read into a personality – so that you can best decide how to react – will all increase the efficiency with which you solve tension. It would be really nice if all of the people with whom you come in contact were in the shiny gold and silver category, but that’s not how life works. Be prepared to deal with some rusty folks, as well.
Most of us are born with a perfect set, but along the way, we sometimes forget to really use our ears. Think about it for a minute: What’s the single most important facet of any relationship?
Are you in management and are charged with training a sales force? Or are you interfacing, either in person or through technology, with clients on a regular basis? Or is your colleague making you take far too many deep breaths? If so, take a mini-lesson about the five different styles of listening:
- Informative Listening
- Relationship Listening
- Appreciative Listening
- Critical Listening
- Discriminative Listening
By honing your listening skills and tuning into how to defuse difficult clients, you’ll decrease your blood pressure, increase productivity, and foster more successful relationships.
That is, by far, the most important skill to navigate. But there are also some other tips:
If you’re part of the problem, own it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a sincere apology diffuses a situation. Anyone in customer service will tell you that an “I’m sorry to hear about this…” brings a complainer back to earth pretty quickly, too.
Offer Not One, but Several Choices
Empower the person who is being difficult with a choice. (Hey, it works with two-year-olds, too, and they can be a little difficult when they learn they can say “NO!”) Recently, a frequent flyer was upset about a canceled flight thus missing opportunity to hit one out of the park for a huge sales deal. The folks at Delta offered the choice of some bonus miles in the mileage account – or a partial-flight voucher for an upcoming flight. Both equaled the same amount, but the miffed traveler was assuaged with the choices.
You needed them as a teenager, or you would have turned out like a real knucklehead, right? Each customer and employee needs them, too. Make yours clear. It’s okay to have some wiggle room, but negotiating too much could make you look like a pushover, and you’ll ultimately receive even more disrespect.
Be the hero, and make it happen!
Put on Your Cape
Go on. Be the hero. And tell the difficult customer that is your goal. “I’m going to figure out a way to make this right for you” or “I’d be really frustrated, too; I assure you, I’m going to help you to get full resolution here.” Anything along these lines will calm the attack dog, and it will get both of you clear to get the problem solved.
It all comes down to reading people, listening, and paying attention to the emotions at hand. But, be careful. When someone is being entirely difficult, just for the sake of being difficult, it truly does not mean that you need to be pushed over the edge.
Life’s Too Short
Here’s the deal: If you’re being mistreated or disrespected, let ‘em go. Make peace with that. No one should be trained or conditioned to think that it is acceptable to treat people that way. And you’re spreading the good ways of the world if you just draw the line in the sand.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be sure to be resting better at night and enjoying your job and work place more, as well.
Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about health and wellness, business, and marketing.