How to deal with the most difficult coworkers and customers
When an angry customer or frustrated coworker verbally attacks you, the first rule is to stay calm. Aggression comes from frustration so your first task is to stay calm and bring the conversation to calm waters because only then you'll be able to successfully solve the problem the other side has.
If you stay calm, you will also avoid escalation of problem, no matter is the problem real or imagined, you shouldn't allow more aggression to take place because things can get really nasty. Looking from your point of view, if you stay calm you'll have clear mind and you'll able to focus on the problem, rather than thinking "Oh, why is this happening to me?"
Second, from the very fist moment make clear that words "always" and "never" are forbidden. "Your products never work," "You always fail" - those statements are not true. Words "always" and "never" have just two function: to put you in a defensive position and to allow the attacker to be stronger and dominate. So, eliminate that right from the start.
Just for an example, you may say "Let's forget 'never'. Please, tell me what's really bothering you so that I can help." You are going out from defense and along the way you are forcing your opponent to focus on real problem. And, along the way, he will calm down which will allow both sides to focus on the problem and forget personal issues and possible insults.
Now, with just those two simple rules you have a good foundation to continue your conversation in a civilized manner. They are in fact enough but we'll give you even more tips.
First, remember that you can’t fly like an eagle if you hang out with turkeys. In other words, no matter how difficult your customer or coworker might be, always be diplomatic and don't accept his rules.
Keep a healthy distance - that doesn't mean you're the king, he's a slave - and if you see that the other side accepts no arguments, don't spend the whole day in vain. Politely say that you will try to solved the problem and wish him a good day.
Second, the sooner your achieve the equal position, the better. You must transition from defending your products to a position where you actively trying to help the other side as an equal party.
Forget your feelings and attacks aimed directly at you. It may be hard but there's no point in "Sir, a person with half a brain can use our product!" Not good. In fact, very bad for both sides.
Third thing - and very important! - to remember is to separate the person from the issue. Remember that that angry customer may a) have a lousy product you sold b) has a bad day or c) is simple a person enjoying insulting other people.
Be it a, b or c, if you focus on the problem, you will stop further attacks, the person will calm down and you will talk about the real problem at hand.
There are numerous situations in which an angry customer was converted to a loyal buyer thanks to clever use of customer-company negotiations. So, keep calm head, raise to the equal level and focus on the problem and you will deal with the most difficult persons just like that. ■
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