We’ve all been there – we’re helping a customer who doesn’t seem to want to be helped. Maybe he keeps interrupting you while you’re explaining what would help him. Maybe you’re on the phone and there’s a screaming baby in the background or their TV is on full volume. Maybe the customer is so angry that by the time you get involved, he’s yelling at you from the start.
It’s never easy to keep your cool if a customer is loudly venting his frustrations, or worse – chewing you out. But keeping your cool is exactly what’s expected of you – and it’s exactly what you should do. Here are some tips that will help you stay calm when the pressure is on.
Breathe. Just breathe.
Don’t blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind (which is probably something like “hey jerk, stop yelling at me!”). Instead, take a deep breath. Doing so will not only relieve your stress, but it will give you a second to calm down and stop you from insulting your customer. Go ahead, try it: inhale through your nose, hold that breath for a second or two, then slowly breathe out.
Count to 10
Your mom was right: the old counting-to-ten trick actually works. In a heated situation, take a moment and slowly count from one to ten. By the time you get up to ten, you may find that you are no longer upset. Give it a shot the next time a customer interrupts you or tells you you’re wrong.
Create a peaceful work environment
Maybe you’re soothed by a classical piano piece, or maybe just one glance at a photo of your cat brings an instant smile to your face. Surround yourself with whatever brings you peace. Turn your office into your happy place: dim the lights, add an aromatherapy diffuser to your desk, or add a tranquil water feature to the top of your bookcase.
Get it off your chest
After you hang up the phone, take 30 seconds to vent to a co-worker. It helps to discuss your work-related stress with someone who understands what you’re going through. It’s even better if your co-worker can see some humor in the situation and make you laugh.
If your co-worker doesn’t make you laugh, find something that will. Whether it’s puppy videos on YouTube, a humorous blog, or a joke of the day website, sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.
Remind yourself that you’ll regret it later if you lose your cool
Sometimes it’s as simple as that – knowing you’ll regret it later will make you realize there’s no point to yelling back at your customer. In fact, there’s often a price to pay for losing your cool. The last thing you want is to make a bad situation worse by adding a lecture from your boss to your already rough day. And even if your boss doesn’t sit you down for a talk, there’s a good chance you’ll feel bad about the way you talked to the customer and wish for a do-over.
Take a break
When things get really intense and you don’t think you can handle one more complaint, take a break. Get away from your desk if you can – take a walk to the break room, get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, or stop by a co-worker’s desk to say “hi”. If you can’t walk away, let your mind wander – check Instagram or close your eyes for 30 seconds. Getting physical or mental distance from a stressful situation will make you better prepared to jump back into your work a few minutes later.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
And you know how the saying ends – “it’s all small stuff”.
Now, using these tricks doesn’t mean you can check-out for the rest of the day – you want to simply reset your brain to help you keep your cool. It may feel better in the moment to lose your temper when a customer is yelling at you, but try out some of these tips and be happier with how you handle these tough situations.