How many of you just want to throttle people who give an attitude all the time? I know I would love to smack a few people. Common decency in dealing with the public can be extremely trying especially when they do everything in their power to get you into trouble over something you have very little to no control over.
One of my favorite examples is when people get really bad service. Now, every professional in the world will tell you to kill them with kindness. And that is the best advice they can give but there are those few exceptions that you have tried to appease and NOTHING makes them happy. There is a local restaurant in Greensboro, NC that is notorious for getting orders wrong, the management doesn’t even try to fix the issue and the owner won’t respond to complaints. I finally stopped going there and they have shut down several restaurants over the last couple of years. They are only down to two locations left and I couldn’t be happier. But having said that. They are just one establishment of many that are poorly run, poorly managed, and don’t really care about their customers. They are outdated and will soon be in the history books.
In my current line of employment, we get all kinds of folks. We get the really nice ones, the ones who are there only for a short period of time and do lots of damage to the facility, then we have folks who are respectful. Earlier today, I had a woman who was livid because I wouldn’t let her into her unit. Now, before you all jump down my throat, this woman was two months behind on her rent and it’s in the contract that she must be paid in full before she is allowed back into her unit. I bent over backwards being nice. Nothing I did was right. By the time she finished on her tirade I almost craved a cigarette and I haven’t smoked since 2003. I did exactly what the experts say. I spoke in a calm voice, tried to diffuse the situation and she got madder. There are some days that you just can’t win no matter what you do.
Because of her actions today, I needed a little refresher on how not to tell someone off that I would really have loved to have told to go jump in a lake and cool off. So, since I needed the refresher, I thought it might help some of you too.
I got my information from Psychology Today. Some of the bullet points they bring up are
1) Ask yourself if they are justified. Is there a reason that they are angry? Did the company, person or you do something that may have triggered it or are you just an outlet? Even if a person is justified in their anger, you don’t have to take the abuse of their anger. If someone is swearing at you and threatening you in any manner, then politely apologize for their frustration but ask them nicely to calm down.
2) Stay Calm – This one is much easier said than done. The phrase “fake it til you make it” applies with this. On the outside you have to appear calm even when you are trembling internally. This will help to diffuse situations.
3) Avoid Character Assaults – This means don’t egg on the situation by rubbing in their face their part in the problem. This usually makes folks madder and they are more likely to explode with venomous anger aimed in your direction.
4) Know when to Disengage – Sometimes you just need to get the person out of your hair. If you can’t handle the person, get them to someone who can. Sometimes people are just looking for a fight and sometimes they just want to be heard. If you feel that you are in over your head, it’s okay to ask for help.
5) Stay safe – In our society today, this is getting harder every day. There are more attacks on people and places daily. The main thing is to do your best to stay safe. You don’t want to start something that will make anyone feel threatened.
Most of the time, people are affected because they have a lot going on in their personal lives and just want to vent. It could be anything that triggers the outburst and you might not have had anything to do with it. Be sure to listen to the person. Let them know it’s ok. And when they leave it’s okay to take a deep breath and walk away for a second. Learn to accept the responsibility for your role in things if you had a part in it and take ownership for your part. If you had nothing to do with it, shake it off.
The main thing is know that it’s okay to be a little pissed when people get under your skin. Just don’t let them see that they got to you. There’s a lot of power in perception. It took me a long time to understand that concept. The most important thing you can do is to be okay with how you handle yourself and that you did what you could to diffuse something. After all, the real power we have is helping others. Sometimes in dealing with the angriest of individuals, we start to look at things a little differently. As I’ve been typing this tonight, I’ve been reflecting on my own attitude. I really try to go the extra mile but did I say something that set her off? I don’t think so. She was mad when she walked in the door. I took a shower before work so I know I didn’t stink. I guess the hardest part for me is I don’t like it when people are mad. They may push every button I have but that doesn’t give me the right to treat them without respect. Respect may be earned but in customer service, the customer truly believes they reign superior. In many cases, they do. Never forget that you have the power to control yourself. You can’t control them, but you can control your actions. In the meantime, destress, walk away, and breathe. Me? I’m going for the glass of wine and listening to some music. That always helps after dealing with difficult folks.