Handling Difficult Customers
Customer service is a necessary position in the job world today. It helps companies give customers what they want and what they need. Although many customers can be difficult, with the right training, skills and knowledge, any difficult customer can be handled properly and effectively. With a positive attitude you can effectively deal with the most difficult customers and both parties can end the conversation satisfied. In our next series of Blogs, we will share some of the ideas we look at in more detail on our handling difficult customers workshop and excellent customer service workshops.
The Right Attitude Starts with You
Keeping a positive mental attitude in the face of difficulty isn’t easy. In fact, according to psychologists our brains seem to be hardwired to focus on the negative, as studies have shown. However, here is some postivity to focus on: many studies have also demonstrated that cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” and engaging in regular exercise and meditation can have dramatic effects on our sense of well being.
It’s natural and easy to focus on the negative things that happen in our lives. When a reckless driver cuts you off on the road, your pulse races and your adrenaline begins to flow. Maybe you start to shake and it’s likely that this feeling will stay with you for a while. All too often, the good things in life escape our notice. Whether it’s the person who greets you with a smile or the one who holds the door open for you. Taking note of the good things in your life involves a conscious decision, but it has a huge payoff. Oprah Winfrey once noted that the single most important thing she’s ever done was to write five things that she’s grateful for in a journal at the beginning of each day. And the science backs her up. Psychologists from the universities of California and Miami performed an experiment in 2003. The results found that keeping a daily journal of what you’re grateful for can increase your own sense of wellbeing throughout your life.
Make Gratitude a Habit
Sustaining a positive outlook requires consistent practice. If, by taking a moment to note what’s going right, you get a good feeling, imagine the cumulative effect of doing so daily. In order make this sustainable, you must cultivate a habit.
Forming a habit:
- Use a reminder. For example, at the end of your workday. Let this act as a cue to list five things you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal.
- Develop a routine. Try to write in your gratitude journal at the same time every day.
- Reward yourself. Although developing a cumulative sense of gratitude is its own reward, the act of setting up a specific reward helps to divide a large task into many small tasks. For example, after a week of successively keeping your journal, pick a small reward for yourself.
- Take your time. Doing something consistently becomes automatic over time, but that time can vary between 18 and 254 days to do so. The average amount of time to make a habit automatic is around two months.
- Be gentle with yourself. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Take note as to why you missed it and find strategies to counteract whatever caused you to miss it. Be aware that a change in routine can disrupt habitual behaviour and may require the development of a new reminder and routine.
Invoke Inner Peace
Cultivating positive thinking is also a process of invoking inner peace within. Here are some ways to do so:
- Identify negative and automatic thoughts and counter them with alternatives. Typically, these thoughts frame situations in terms of black and white and either/or terms. They also tend to make logical leaps. For example, your boss may have a look of disapproval. An automatic thought might be to assume she is angry because you were late to work. But you were only late to work by a couple of minutes, and you’re always on time if not early, so it’s ridiculous that your boss should be so angry. Frustratingly, the train of assumptions can go on indefinitely. When you encounter such thoughts, reframe your assessment from terms that this is the case to this may be the case along with other possibilities. Consider other possibilities, including those that have nothing to do with you. Practice reality testing by asking your boss if she is upset with you and what can you do to improve the situation.
- Practice meditation regularly. This helps you to focus on the moment as well as to feel more relaxed. Doing as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can have powerful effects.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. This can be particularly helpful during times of stress. It can help you to both articulate and organise your thoughts. One study found that writing about an intensely positive experience for three consecutive days still contributed to positive moods three months later. Source: Burton, Chad M. & King, Laura A. (2004) “The health benefits of writing about intensely positive experiences” Journal of Research in Personality Vol 38 (2).
- Schedule time for play. Make sure to take time to relax and enjoy life on a regular basis. This will not only help develop a positive outlook but also will help to increase your creativity.
Monica was experiencing some big challenges in her life. She had just graduated from college with a mountain of student loan debt. She had no job, even though she had been looking for months. Her savings were dwindling fast, and to top it all off, she had a nagging toothache and knew a trip to the dentist would cost a small fortune. When she thought about all the problems facing her, she became overwhelmed. She grew depressed. Her life consisted of wasting away on the sofa watching daytime TV. When she saw the episode about gratitude on Oprah Winfrey, Monica decided to give it a try. She did have some things going right in her life, after all. She now had a degree. She had a working car. Best of all, Monica had family and friends who encouraged her, including a professor who was willing to recommend her for an office job. The more she focused on what she did have, the better she felt. In fact, instead of feeling depressed over everything that lay before her, Monica started to feel enthusiastic about the potential the future held.