Deer Oaks EAP Services- A resource you can trust. Dealing With Complaints and Difficult People
Why Do People Complain? • Because they are not satisfied with the service(s) they received. • Because there are differences (or, more likely, deficits) between their expectations and your delivery. • Because they wish to be validated. • Because they want something specific to be changed. • Other reasons you can think of?
Your Goal – * Customer Satisfaction* • Adopt this as your mantra. • Buy into the belief that customer satisfaction is truly important. • Respect the right of your clients to expect your best and to be upset when they don’t. • Train staff to buy into this notion. • Think of it as a form of prevention
Suggestions On How to Diffuse an Angry Person • Avoid becoming angry too. Do not take their anger personally. • Listen completely until the person stops speaking/runs out of breath. • Pause briefly before responding. • Start with an apology. • Then say “Let me make sure I understand the problem so I can help solve it”.
Clarify the Complaint • You can’t help someone until you understand completely the nature of their complaint. • Ask questions to clarify the concern • Utilize active listening and avoid irritating the person further by repeating questions. • At the same time, it’s okay to restate and reflect in order to clarify.
Solve the Problem • If you cannot solve the problem right away, let the person know your next steps of when you will get back to them. • Remain as good as your word – remember that your company’s image/reputation are on the line. • Offer bonuses or other ways of making up for the shortfall. • Follow-up
Always Follow-Up • Even if everything goes smoothly and the problem is quickly rectified, it is very important to follow-up. • A follow-up call, letter, or email lets the person know that you took their complaint seriously. • It also helps your company remain competitive – especially if clients can get the same service elsewhere!
Why Deal With Complaints? • For every single complaint you receive, there are probably ten others that never come to your attention. Why? • See complaints as opportunities to learn, change, and grow. • Dealing with complaints can increase the number of your loyal customers.
Why Deal With Complaints? • Complaints are a form of feedback that can help you prevent even larger concerns in the future. • Remember that word-of-mouth is an effective form of advertising – and clients are more likely to tell others when they are dissatisfied. • Ignoring complaints can result in a loss of business as well as lawsuits.
The Stress of Dealing with Complaints • Being on the receiving end of constant complaints can make for high levels of stress. • If listening to complaints (customer service) is part of your job, it is important to know how to deal with this particular kind of stressor. • Remember that personality helps – some people are more suited to this kind of job than others. • Are you?
Managing the Stress • Avoid getting baited into unprofessional behavior/language. • Even when personally attacked, understand that the person is just venting their frustration. • Keep letters or cards from previous complainers who commend you after they become satisfied clients. • Remind yourself of your excellence.
Managing the Stress • Breathe deeply to remain calm. • If possible, take short frequent breaks. • Find sources of self-esteem outside of the job. • Engage in pleasant activities and hobbies away from the job. • Learn to leave work at work.
Dealing With Difficult People 9 Difficult Personalities Leading to Conflict in the Workplace (and How to Deal with Them) • The Hostile/Aggressive • The Pessimist • The Complainer • The Know-it-All Expert • The Narcissist • The Skeptic • Shy and Quiet • The Overcontroller • The Indecisive Staller
The Hostile/Aggressive THE SHERMAN TANK, THE EXPLODER, MEAN AND ANGRY • How to Deal with this Personality: • Stand up to them without aggression. If you allow a fight to escalate you will never win. • Be assertive and express your opinion respectfully (“In my opinion…and so I disagree with you”). • Take a deep breath and calm yourself. • Move the discussion to a neutral site.
The Hostile/Aggressive • If attacked, do not counter-attack. Such personalities feed on the anger of others – it empowers them. • Instead ask them firmly to sit down and explain calmly what they have to say. Listen calmly in return. • Give them time to wind down and run out of steam…avoid a direct confrontation. • Take unpredictable actions to distract their attention: drop a book, stand up; firmly call them by name. • 9. Don’t be surprised by friendly overtures as soon as they view you as worthy of respect.
The Pessimist THE NEGATIVIST • How to Deal with this Personality: • Recognize your own vulnerability to being sucked into feeling discouraged. Negativity can be contagious unless met directly with confident, assertive optimism. • Don’t argue with them or embarrass them. You won’t get far by making this a win/lose battle. • Allow them to play the role of “reality checker” by analyzing what could indeed go wrong. Validate the usefulness of their defensive pessimism.
The Pessimist • Require them to cite specifics rather than generalizations. • Offer examples of past successes. Highlight the value of exploring other alternatives. • When alternatives are discussed, bring up the negatives yourself. • Don’t try to talk them out of their pessimistic life perspective. • Discuss the problem thoroughly without offering solutions. • Be ready to take action alone without their agreement.
The Complainer • How to Deal with this Personality: • Break the self-fulfilling cycle of passivity, blaming and powerlessness by using a problem solving approach. • Ask for complaint in writing. • Assign them fact-finding tasks. • 4. Listen attentively. They may just need to blow off steam. • Be prepared to interrupt and take control. • Pin them down to specifics. They may provide useful information.
The Complainer • Be careful when agreeing. You do not want to validate that everything is your fault and that they are blameless. • If all else fails, ask them how they would like the discussion to end; what results do they want to achieve? • Acknowledge their feelings but avoid complaining along with them; don’t get sucked into their dysfunctional pattern. • State the facts clearly without apology…remain in problem- solving mode.
The Know-It-All-Expert • How to Deal with this Personality: • Help them consider alternative views while avoiding direct challenges to their expertise. • Do your homework, prepare well, discuss facts in an orderly manner, and ensure you have accurate information. • 3. Don’t “ball park” it or they will dismiss you as incompetent. • 4. Don’t be intimidated or let them take over a meeting.
The Know-It-All-Expert • Do listen to them and try to benefit from their expertise. • Listen and acknowledge. Paraphrase rather than interrupt; it shows that you respect their expertise. • If you must point out an error or omission, question with confidence and ask for clarification (e.g., “How might that look 5 years from now?”) • Resist temptation to assert your own expert credential. It won’t work. No one knows more than they do in their opinion.
The Narcissist ALWAYS RIGHT • How to Deal with this Personality: • 1. Know how you feel about the person and how they affect you. • Identify and recognize their talents – especially underutilized ones – and lead them to activities that test these talents. • Avoid the temptation to burst their bubble – they are fragile underneath the confident exterior. • 4. Encourage their participation in activities that require dependence on others. • 5. Give them opportunities to teach and work with others.
The Narcissist • Have them role-play a timid or shy person to feel the other sides. Use similar techniques to encourage empathy. • State correct facts or alternative opinions as descriptively as possible; avoid deflating their opinions. • 8. Provide them with a means to save face; don’t humiliate them. • Be ready to fill the conversation gap yourself. • Coping with them when they are alone (one-on-one) is easier.
The Skeptic THE BACKSTABBER, THE NAY SAYER • How to Deal with Them: • 1. Disentangle yourself from their web of suspicion. • 2. Never pass suspicion down. • 3. Watch yourself and monitor your reactions carefully. • 4. Open dialogue with others to relieve suspicion. • Don’t believe anything they say about you in person or behind your back.
The Skeptic • 6. Document everything. • 7. Be open, honest, and professional – and therefore guiltless. • Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated or targeted. • And remember that the truth, like sunshine, always comes out!
The Shy and Quiet THE CLAMS • How to Deal with this Personality: • 1. Put yourself in their shoes. Do not mistake shyness for aloofness. • Use one-to-one and small-group environments to draw them out of their shells. • 3. Encourage them to join work-committees and organizations. • 4. Develop trust and friendship with this person whenever possible. • 5. Help them prepare for tough situations. • 6. Ask open-ended questions.
The Shy and Quiet • 7. Wait as calmly as possible for a response. • 8. Don’t rush to fill in silence with your conversation. • 9. Plan enough time to allow you to wait with composure. • When they open up, be attentive. • Flow with tangents, they may lead to something enlightening. • Leave them with food for thought and establish another meeting.
The Overcontroller THE WATCHDOG, THE DRAGON • How to Deal with this Personality: • 1. Free yourself mentally from being suffocated. • Know what is happening to you and develop skills to deal with it. • 3. Provide a lot of feedback. • 4. Know your own strengths and limitations. • 5. Be properly and respectfully assertive in all interactions.
The Overcontroller • 6. Be as proactive as possible (out-think them). • 7. Write things down in front of them. • Don’t argue without supporting evidence. • Don’t let them entice you into unprofessional behavior. • Avoid the temptation to micro-manage them – such passive-aggressive retaliation serves no purpose.
The Indecisive Staller • How to Deal with this Personality: • Make it easy for them to tell you about conflicts or reservations. • Listen for indirect words, hesitations, or omissions that might provide clues. • 3. Help them make a decision by examining the facts. • 4. Find out if the problem is you and reassure them it is not. • 5. Emphasize the importance of quality work.
The Indecisive Staller • 6. Give support after they make a decision. • 7. If possible, keep the action steps in your hands. • Watch for signs of abrupt anger or withdrawal. Try to remove them from this situation. • Maintain some control of important tasks.
Listening Skills for Dealing with Difficult People Inaccurate Reflection or Distracting Comments: 1. Changing the topic responses. 2. “I know better than you” response 3. Judgmental responses. 4. Advising response. 5. Discounting and premature reassurance. 6. Psychoanalysis 7. Questions 8. Telling your own story
Listening Skills for Dealing with Difficult People Purposes of Active Listening • To communicate to the speaker that you value him/her as a person. • To gain an understanding of the speaker’s experience. • To communicate that understanding to the speaker so that they feel • heard and understood. • This can increase a person’s comfort, interest, and motivation.
Listening Skills for Dealing with Difficult People • Active Listening: • Active listening, as the name suggests, is an active process. As you listen to the person speak and watch their facial expressions and body language, you’re actively asking yourself the following three questions: • 1.What is or was this person feeling? • 2. What exactly did this person experience? • What did this person do? • What is it like to be in his/her shoes?
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