On an evaluation from a Fully Engaged Customer Service workshop I taught, someone made this comment: “I would like to see some techniques for dealing with unreasonable people that don’t require us to sacrifice our self-esteem” I wish I could talk to the person who wrote it. As much as it might feel like it, nobody can “require you to sacrifice your self-esteem.”
Self-esteem is not for others to give or take away. It’s yours. Don’t give them the power. Remember it’s not personal even when they resort to name-calling. Try stepping into your customer’s shoes for a moment and realize that there is probably something very wrong in their life to make them act that way. When a difficult situation arises, take a deep breath, and tell yourself “I’m good at my job.”
At the start of my customer service workshops, almost everyone talks about wanting to know how to change other people. You aren’t likely to be able to change them but what you CAN do is change your reaction to them. Since emotions are contagious, if you can stay present and available and not go into defensive mode, there is a good chance they will shift their behavior. If they don’t, and they really are just mean people or are having such a bad day that they can’t get over themselves, you can still end up telling yourself “ I did the best I could in the situation” and then let it go. If you are successful and can be available for the next customer, most likely it will be one of the 90% of your customers that is reasonable and very happy to get help from you. Instead of your self-esteem taking a hit, you will get a boost from handling a difficult situation with grace.