What is integrity? Integrity is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” Integrity is doing the right thing, all the time, even when people are not looking or watching. It sounds like such a simple concept and one that we all believe we strictly adhere to. But what about when we are dealing with difficult customers or clients? Those that seem as though they can never be satisfied? How do we keep our composure during those times? Is it even possible to do so?
We live with, work with, and interact with different people everyday, sometimes all day long. We are surrounded by people that do not act, talk, look, or think as we do. They do not handle situations the same way we would. This is the point where tensions can arise, and disagreements and arguments can occur if we are not careful. It can be challenging at times to keep our composure when we have an agitated customer yelling at us. Or the client that is unhappy because of the “outrageous fees” your business charges and expects them to pay. However, it is possible to handle these types of people in a polite, professional, and tactful manner: with integrity.
The first and possibly most important thing to do when dealing with an unhappy customer is to realize that they are most likely not upset with you. You are just the messenger, and they do not like the message you are delivering. Unfortunately, you are now the focus of their attention because you are in front of them at that moment. Again, don’t take it personal. Second, take a deep breath. If you need to, count to three or think of a relaxing mantra in your head. Think to yourself, “breathe”, or “relax”. Either technique will help to lower your blood pressure and help you to think logically, rationally, and calmly.
Third, do not react with anger or sarcasm. Doing so will only fuel the fire. When a person is not allowed to express their feelings without interruption or without judgment, they often become more angry and belligerent. Listen calmly, nodding, and periodically saying something like, “OK”, or “I understand”. Be sure your body language is in line with what you are saying. Try to maintain a relaxed posture. Don’t cross your arms, roll your eyes, or frown. These are signals that mean you don’t care or don’t believe what the person is saying is true.
In the end, truly try to understand the person’s point of view and where they are coming from with their anger. Keeping your composure and maintaining your integrity can be tedious during an encounter with a difficult client or customer, but by doing so it will show that you are a mature, rational adult – capable of being the bigger person. Adhering to these standards will save you a lot of unnecessary stress and headaches, and reveal to others what you are made of – and at the end of the day, your focus is to produce the best product and professional services to your clientele. The customer may not always be rational, but they are always right.