Customer Experience News & Trends

5 practical ways to deal with people you can’t stand

The elves may get along in their contact center – after all, when Santa’s your boss, who wouldn’t get along? But most contact centers aren’t that jolly.

Whether it’s a tough customer. moody coworker or overly demanding boss, some people on some days are tough to deal with. (Some are even awful to deal with every day).

Most employees aren’t equipped to resolve the conflicts that come up at work when dealing with difficult people. In fact, just 12% of workers say they’re great at avoiding or resolving conflict at work, a recent SmartPulse survey found. While many workers feel they’re good at dealing with people and circumstances they can’t stand, a lot say they actually make it worse or even provoke it.

Any kind of incivility in the contact center can hurt productivity and morale. So it’s everybody’s job to curb or eliminate conflict.

Here are five practical ways to deal with people you can’t stand, flat-out enemies or tough situations and the co-workers involved in them.

  1. Watch what others do. If you have a hard time dealing with a certain person, you’re probably not alone. So keep an eye on how co-workers deal with a perpetually tough customer or in-your-face boss. Follow their cues — whether it’s to ignore, agree with or even respectfully counter the offender.
  2. Kill her with kindness. If you have a difficult time dealing with a person who is unkind, be extra kind. The clear contrast in attitudes can often help difficult people lighten up. If that doesn’t work, smiling and kindness will lower your stress level anyway.
  3. Offer help. Beneath a prickly surface, difficult people often hide a great need for acceptance and help. It’s easy with tough customers — you must offer them help. So make sure you tell them that you want to help. For colleagues who are less-tolerable, offer some assistance when they complain, holler or are otherwise ill-behaved. It might help them see that they’re acting out of line.
  4. Avoid the same behavior. One of the worst things any contact center pro can do when dealing with difficult people or facing a difficult situation is to act the same as the others involved. Instead, stay focused on a calm voice and attitude. Walk away and suggest chatting later if you find yourself using similar tone, language and intensity as anyone who is unraveling.
  5. Stay in control of what you can. That doesn’t mean you want to control the situation or person. You want to stay in control of your own emotions and reactions to people you can’t stand. Bite your tongue, if you must. Vent to an outdoor wall. Take a walk. Stay in control.

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