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Friday, October 30, 2015

It’s Not About You: 3 Ways to Avoid Letting Tough Customers Get the Best of You

avoid letting tough customers get the best of youWhen it comes to working with the public in your post-rehab job, it’s easy to get discouraged. Sometimes it seems that you’re surrounded by people who are stressed, overwhelmed, and angry—particularly if you work in a customer service setting. Conflict is unavoidable, but it helps if you prepare to deal with difficult people before you encounter them. Most importantly, remember that your old, maladaptive coping strategies (turning to drugs or alcohol) are no longer an option. Now is the time to develop constructive ways to deal with workplace and social stress.

Whether the people you encounter are handling situations poorly, taking their anger out on you, or are just plain rude—the following tips can help you remain in control of yourself and your responses.

1. Take a breath before reacting. 

Take a deep, abdominal breath before responding to an angry customer. If you respond in kind, the situation could escalate. Studies show that practiced, diaphragmatic breathing (1) increases oxygen to the brain, and (2) stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to induce a state of relaxation.

2. Remember—it’s not usually about you. 

There are times when it is appropriate to correct your behavior or apologize to a client, but don’t get defensive if their frustration has nothing to do with you. Defensiveness is the number one reason we overreact to a difficult person. When we feel personally attacked or begin to internalize criticism, it is tougher to problem-solve. An angry customer is most likely frustrated with their service experience or unhappy with a product they purchased. Begin repeating in your head, “This is not about me. He is not upset at me; he is upset about his circumstances.” Then, listen to understand and ask questions to clarify the complaint. You do not have to put up with continuing verbal abuse, though. If you cannot solve a customer’s problem, offer to involve a manager before the situation gets out of hand.

3. Lower your voice.

As a customer’s voice escalates, consciously speak lower and slower in return. This type of response indicates your commitment to handling the situation in a professional manner, and may also have a calming effect. If you are responding to customers online through email or instant chat, take a deep breath and compose yourself before firing off a response. Remember, it’s usually not about you, and this is no time to pour kerosene on an already fiery situation.

Maintaining Sobriety During Stress 

When life stress has you contemplating a drink or a fix, call your therapist, your sponsor, or the Hope Academy team. Our credentialed addiction specialists are here 24/7 to answer your questions and provide post-rehab support, and our relapse prevention planning and sober communities are designed to help you achieve sustained sobriety as you return to school, work, and social situations. To learn more about our vocational training and college prep services click here. Dial 866.930.4673 to begin the admissions process or inquire about insurance and self-payment options.
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