Occasional stressful client interactions are inevitable, and it’s not always easy to be kind and patient when someone is angry or upset. They often have an unending list of requests, demands and deadlines, and they expect you to meet all of them.
But you’re committed to your clients, for they are the reason you’re bringing your product or service to the market. With this in mind, here are five steps from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan to handle stressful client interactions and create new possibilities for your working relationships:
1. Approach Each Situation in a “Charge Neutral” Manner — In the process of dealing with a stressful client interaction quietly check in with yourself to see what reaction it’s causing for you. If you’re feeling anxious or defensive, it’s helpful to become neutral quickly. Take a few deep breaths and focus on the problem. This will shift your energy, disperse some of the adrenaline, and reduce the stress in the conversation so you can be more calm and productive during the interaction.
2. Honor Your Client’s Perspective — Even if you don’t always agree with your client, it’s important to respect their perspective and needs. Set aside your own opinions and requirements. Allow yourself to honor your client by listening intently to what they are saying. Then tell them that you’ve heard them and appreciate their concerns. By doing this, you begin to re-establish trust and truly honor the circumstances and problems they are experiencing.
3. Be Curious About Your Clients and Their Issues — One of the best ways to build long-term success with a client is to find out more about the issues they have and what is making them upset. When you can step away from your own feelings and your own way of doing things, and instead stay curious about your clients, you can better understand them and can better fulfill their needs. Closely monitor your tone of voice and body language during your interaction. Stay open and inquisitive without fear or judgment.
4. Ask Clarifying Questions — During a stressful interaction with a client, it’s a good idea to ask them some specific open-ended questions to help you fully understand their concerns. This will help defuse the situation so that you can explore potential solutions to the problem. Examples of such questions are “What one thing would you like from me?” or “What is missing that you would like to have included?” These types of questions will allow you to stay focused on them to resolve matters more quickly.
5. Create a Clear Agreement About the Resolution and Next Steps — Once you’ve fully understood the particular situation and your client’s concerns, it’s helpful to suggest two possible solutions to the problem. Once you agree on the solution, create a clear agreement around it and also a clear set of next steps to implement the solution. Confirm with the client that it fits with their expectations.
It’s absolutely essential that you can enter into a stressful client situation in an easeful way. If you have to step away from an interaction so that you can get your own focus and calmness back, then take that time. Simply trust that matters can be resolved in a calm manner and you’ll be on your way toward handling all your client interactions with ease.
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @micarnegie.