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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

Bringing humanity into the world of technology

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Whether we work on the help desk or in some other customer service capacity, or even if we don’t work in customer service at all, we sometimes have to deal with people who are angry. I’ve created a customer service training video based on this blog post and the rest of the post is just below the video.

Here are three things we can do to help manage the situation when we’re dealing with anger in another person, such as a customer or end-user:

  1. Pause and keep calm. In my own experience, when I’ve encountered someone who was expressing anger to me, it seems like I’ve become competitive. Recognizing that, I’m getting better at pausing for a moment to gather my thoughts before reacting. Consider the wisdom of counting to 10 before saying or doing anything. Maintaining your calm can help keep a situation from escalating. Breathe, try to step back from the situation (even if you can’t step back physically, you can step back in your own mind).
  2. Don’t try to use reason while they’re angry. Someone who is angry is under the control of their emotional brain. Reason and logic, while they’re in an agitated state, will probably only make things worse. Save the reason and logic for later, after things have calmed down.
  3. Express empathy. A sincere expression of empathy can be a powerful way to start calming things down. Use phrases such as, “I don’t blame you.” Or “I’d probably feel the same way you do if I were in your shoes.” You can even thank your customer or end-user for bringing the problem to your attention!

Anger in another person can be intimidating or scary. It is, however, a fact of life that sometimes we’ll have to deal with someone who’s angry. When we can remember to pause, maintain our own calm, and show empathy toward the other person, we can start the process of de-escalating the situation and moving toward a positive outcome.


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