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How to deal

By Lauren Smith

If you work in any spectrum of customer service, you’ve likely dealt with them. They’re high-conflict personalities.

As much as it hurts dealing with these high-conflict personalities, sometimes there’s no way around it. Unless your work requires zero interpersonal communication, chances are you will have to deal with a difficult person at some point on the job.

While it can be trying to deal with a high-conflict personalities, there are a few tools to help you out and prevent a difficult customer/coworker from ruining your whole shift: 

  1. Listen. When it comes to customers or coworkers, taking a moment to give them your attention and listen to their complaint will allow them to feel heard and validated (maybe they’re upset because they felt ignored). Plus, it gives you the chance to assess the situation to determine what the real issue is and allow you to respond appropriately.
  2. Stand your ground. If they are being unreasonable, you need to assert yourself and express your concerns, in a respectable way, of course. If they are communicating in a destructive way, you need to be confident and express to them how it is affecting you. Explain that the conflict cannot be resolved if both parties aren’t calm and want to work towards a solution. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself.[1]
  3. Don’t escalate. It can be difficult when someone is yelling or being obnoxiously rude to you. No one deserves to be treated that way and you certainly don’t have to put up with it. However, the last thing you want to do is engage in an argument and become defensive. That is a battle that will have no winner. It will leave you frustrated and make you look unprofessional. Your best bet is to remain calm and focus on finding a solution.
  4. Ask for help. If you’re dealing with an angry customer, client or coworker, don’t allow them to bring you down. First listen, stand your ground and calmly respond. If there isn’t a solution in sight and the person doesn’t want to cooperate, you should take the issue to your manager. Even among coworkers, sometimes third-party mediation is needed to resolve conflicts.

It can be challenging to remain calm and professional when faced with a difficult interaction, but the best thing to do (aside from these tips) is to channel your inner Yoda:

For more tips on dealing with difficult people, check out:

One Response to “How to deal”

  1. […] you’ll make a new friend who can help you out later in life, just like Chunk did. Lauren has a blog post on managing high-conflict personalities if you want to find out […]

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