Many people can identify a situation where they have dealt with a difficult or angry customer or colleague.

It is important to establish fully the details and reasons for the anger.

By identifying the cause, you can emotionally distance yourself from the situation and start to help to diffuse it.

Being respectful at all times will also help to reach a solution.

If somebody is so angry that they do not want to listen to what you are saying, it is OK to tell them you are leaving the room and will return when they are calmer.

You could also try this approach if you are talking to an angry customer or colleague over the phone.

You should advise them that you will be putting the phone down, to allow both parties to reflect.

Try not to get emotionally involved.  Even if the person is angry with you, do not respond with anger.

This will make the situation worse and will get in the way of identifying the cause.

Some other tips include:

  • Show empathy; try to imagine how the person is feeling and understand why they are upset/angry.
  • Ask open questions to help identify the cause.
  • Look for a resolution, and apologize if you think it will help. This does not mean that you are acknowledging any guilt, but the apology may help to calm them down. ‘I’m sorry that you are feeling this way’ is a useful neutral apology that you could try.


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