Dealing with angry people : 12 most common mistakes (part 4/4)

This is the final article in this series about dealing with angry people.

In this article, the word “client” is used to refer to either an external client of the organization, an internal client / colleague or a friend / family member.

The objective of this series of articles is to provide you with some basic psychological insights into ways of dealing with angry people, either face-to-face or by telephone, in a more effective manner.

Problem # 10: NOT Showing that you are Listening to Them.
When dealing with an angry person it is imperative that, at all times, they hear and feel that you are listening to them. In face-to-face communication people subconsciously process the three communication channels – Verbal (7%), paralinguistic (38%) & non-verbal (55%) – during the conversation. When the communication is by telephone, the non-verbal element is missing which means that the listener has to “fill in” the missing information using their own knowledge, or feelings, which could be incorrect and lead to serious, and unexpected, consequences.

Solution: Use Echoic Responses.
One of the best way of showing that you are listening to someone is by using an ”Echoic Response” which is when the listener repeats the last few words or last phrase used by the other person as an introduction to what they are going to say. The listener is literally “Speaking their Language” which is subconsciously understood and appreciated by the listener and viewed as one of the best and fastest methods of obtaining rapport with someone. It is also a clear example that the listener is actually listening! An additional benefit of this technique is that it can be used in other contexts such as Sales, Negotiations, Meetings, etc.

Problem # 11: Not Focussing 100% on the Client.
When working with an angry person, especially by telephone, many people are easily distracted by thing that are happening around them which means that their attention wanders from the task they are doing (& getting paid for!) : attending to an angry person. People will notice if you are not focussed on them: you ask them to repeat what they have just said; you hold “Parallel Conversations” with another person; you ask them to “Wait one minute, please”, etc.

Solution: Focus on the Person.
The only way to ensure that you are focussed on them is for you to ACTUALLY be focussed on them. Remember that your job is to solve their problem and remove their worries & fears as well as give them renewed confidence in your organization.

Problem # 12: Forgetting that any Angry Client is an Opportunity to Create Brand / Organizational Loyalty.
A multinational organization with headquarters in France considers that a complaint from a client is a gift; an opportunity to improve and to create brand loyalty. This is even more true with an angry client. A client who has their problem solved rapidly & effectively will become a loyal one which means that they return and purchase more products from your organization and recommend it to other people. You only have ONE opportunity to create a great impression, so do not waste it!

A Boston Consulting Group study indicates that a client who is happy with his treatment by an organization will tell an average of 13 people about it in a way which is positive for the company. However, an unhappy client will express his feelings to 24 people in a way which is negative for the organization. When you consider the knock-on effect of  bad comments that go from unhappy clients to friends & family and then are re-transmitted to their friends and family…How many clients are being lost indirectly by not treating an angry client properly and effectively?

To read the previous articles, please look at my previous BLOG entries with the same title.

© Ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., 2012.

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About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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