How to Deal With Difficult Customers During the Holidays

The holiday season seems to bring out the worst in some people. If you consider all the stress that the season can bring – cooking, shopping, decorating, worrying about money, dealing with family issues, taking vacations – the list can go on and on.

There is not a day goes by that I don’t hear a complaint(s) about dealing with a difficult customer. These complaints come from all levels and industries; customers who:

  • make demands, wanting their needs met in their way, no matter if it follows protocol or not
  • treat you as if you don’t know what you’re talking about, talking down to you
  • have no patience for the process, becoming exasperated at your (perceived) lack of effort
  • don’t understand the direction you are giving them
  • go over your head with a complaint about your behavior, which may or may not have been adverse, but not looking at their own behavior in the situation; they skew the story from reality but you still get called on it
  • are gruff or rude
  • feel entitled (to have what they want when they want)

Let’s face it – we’ve all most likely exhibited one (or more) of the behaviors listed above, perhaps in our busyness or when a personal issue arises that is the underlying cause for our behavior. I’ll admit I’ve been there at time or two myself.

People have their own perspectives and expectations of which lead to conflict of some type. Keeping this fact in mind – individual perceptions and expectations – would help to deal more effectively when facing a difficult customer. It seems that expectations have become wanting the latest and greatest, and now -now- now.

Here are some tips to help you deal with a difficult customer:

  • Check yourself each day: question your beliefs, perceptions and expectations about others and how you are presenting yourself; check for any biases you have, or defenses, such as if someone comes up and doesn’t smile does not mean they are not a nice person
  • Breathe – take a deep breath before responding to a difficult customer; you don’t have to respond right away. Taking a few breaths will slow your response down so you can think and communicate more clearly
  • Prep your mindset – mentally preparing yourself will go a long way to dealing with demanding or other adverse behaviors; some suggestions include: visualization, mindfulness, setting an intention each morning to set the tone for the day, taking a break and going outside, using self-talk and validation that you will get through a situation calmly
  • Read up on conflict management – see if your organization offers a course or read books/blogs to learn why conflict exists and steps to resolve it. This will help you to be a more effective communicator and leads to better interactions
  • Remember, it’s about them, not you – people respond by how they think and feel which has nothing to do with you. Remembering this – and being empathetic – will allow to take their behavior less personally when you realize they may be having a bad day or they may be worried about an ill family member or their job
  • Remain calm in how you interact and diffuse any issues needing resolved; let them that you hear their concerns, which is really what they want. The calmer you are, and the more you validate their concern, the less angry or demanding they will be.

Difficult people are a fact of life, some being more difficult than others. It doesn’t seem to be getting better, with advancing technology and fickle consumer needs. The holidays seem to bring this out more with the stressors of the season.  Learning how to deal with these increasing changes and being more aware of human behavior, yours included, is what will help you to deal with those difficult customers you encounter on a daily basis. The holidays won’t be a dreaded season any longer.


Setting Career Intentions to Get a Jump on the New Year

10 Tips for Career Intentions

As we are in the final days of the year, how are you coming on your planning for next year? Most people will start their new ‘resolutions’ come January but not finish them; in fact, it is estimated that up to 80% fall off within the first 30 days!

This can be attributed to a lack of proper planning and mindset. The resolution word seems to be a problem in the goal process as the word resolution means you need to resolve something which isn’t very motivating. That’s why a better word is to set intentions, which has action behind it.

Setting intentions for your career will bring you more focus and success. So I thought I’d repost tips from when I was  interviewed for an article in a newspaper several years ago, but think they are still valid today. I hope these may help you to get serious about your career search or for revving up your career:

  1. 1. Set the intention – decide on what it is you want in your career – do you want to find a new job, keep your current job, change industries, move into a leadership role, be a better employee, or is this the year you will start your own business; being clear on what it is you want – and why – will help you structure your time and efforts more effective.
  2. Commit – to the process; what tools and resources do you need that will aid you in effectively managing your career.
  3. Assess – write down your skills, talents, abilities, interests, values, experiences or, in other words, what do you have to offer an employer ; also assess your preferred work environment – where do you your best work and feel happiest; what type of company culture aligns with your values and will support you.
  4. Research – who is hiring for the job you want and then explore the position you want – the pay, the benefits, the responsibilities and skills to see if you have them; look at the organization itself to assess it stability and offerings; what is the state of the industry you are in or want to move into.
  5. Set goals – what is that you want – type of job or position, company, etc.; be specific and exact. No matter how you set them (I’ve given you several in the last few days) it’s important that you do as they are the roadmap for your daily routines and future achievements.
  6. Action steps – define what activities you need to do on a daily or weekly basis that will take you to your goal.
  7. Develop a job search strategy – what types of job search activities will be most effective to use:

Job boards;  Published positions; Unpublished positions;  Networking;  Associations;  Alumni Associations;  Friends/family ; Direct contacts;  Job Fairs;  Recruiters/headhunters;  Chat Sites;  Company Websites;  Social networking – LinkedIn, Facebook, Connections, etc.

  1.  Set up a specific daily activity log – how you will spend time in job- search mode on a daily basis; this will help you to keep focused and productive.
  2. Self-care – activities or interests that will help to keep up the emotional level; take time to de-stress, like taking a walk or listening to music; find some mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing or meditation will help you sleep better, so you are at your best, but also helps you to deal more appropriately when the workday frustrations come.
  3. Support system – find support to help you when you might frustrated or discouraged, such as family, friends, a career coach or a job seekers support group.
  4. This is a new tip I’ve added, which is:

Mindset – set an intention that you will work at your highest each day, that there is always something you can learn in your work tasks; that you will commit to being more helpful – to your boss, your coworkers or customers you serve – and do so with a smile; and that you will stop any negativity about your job, either by you or a coworker, and that you will intend to love your job each day. Gratitude goes a long way to help with developing a positive mindset.

I can’t stress enough the importance of goal-planning for your career; having focus each day will lead to more productivity and managing your time both of which leads to feeling more accomplished, satisfied and engaged. All of which are a recipe for more recognition, advancement opportunities, and career success. Why wait until the new year begins – get a jump on your career goals now!

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! or





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