Diffuse the Difficulty | Working with a Difficult Customer

At some point, you are going to come across a difficult customer or even co-worker. Those situations are often uncomfortable.

What do you do if you have an irate customer on the line or a co-worker screaming about something you did or did not do?

First, make sure you RESPOND to the situation instead of REACTING to it.

Reactions typically mirror the action and fuel the situation. Reacting to negativity with negativity only creates pain for yourself.You must realize that it’s about them, not you.

People promote negativity as a reaction from their own emotional state. Never take their words or actions personally. Don’t feed into it and don’t fight about it. Take a moment to think through your next step and try a positive response. Reacting with an impulsive remark will only create a downward spiral because you or the other person will be angry. If you respond negatively to a customer or co-worker, that negativity will then bleed into other areas of either the workplace or your life. Focus that “could-be” negative energy onto something more positive and productive. Both parties have the freedom of expression. Allow the person to talk and express their feelings. You also have a right to choose how you respond. Make the decision wisely.

You can choose peace or you can choose conflict.

There are several steps you can take when talking to a difficult person either on the phone or in front of you. Different situations may require different responses but here are a few that work:

  • Forgive first
  • Wait it out
  • Accept not always being right
  • Put yourself in their shoes
  • Learn from the situation
  • Observe others interactions
  • Avoid heated discussions
  • Give them a compliment
  • Have a method for distressing after the confrontation, for example, write it all down.

The biggest lesson is to not let the difficulties of a negative personality weigh heavily on your own outlook, otherwise, it will affect your attitude and work. Always remember the Golden Rule….


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