The Secret to Handling Difficult Customers

Myra Golden BW-2

I’m about to reveal a hidden way for you to literally
convert “nightmare” customers into an almost endless source
of loyalty, goodwill and profits.

Simply put, you can use these insider secrets to instantly
turn angry customers into raving fans for you and your
company – without giving away the farm.

Amazing but true … and the best part is virtually nobody
knows about these techniques!

What I’m talking about is my “Stop Screaming At Me” online video training.

Check it out here.

[Video] 15-Minute Skill-Sharpener — How to Handle Irate Customers

Imagine your next phone call is from an angry, irate customer and you’ve only got a few seconds to gain control.

Are you 100% confident you can handle it? If not, watch this excerpt from my popular “Stop Screaming at Me” customer service video training.


Like this training? Want more? Please read below.

I promise, after just 90-minutes with me in this special “Stop Screaming at Me” workshop, you will be inspired and thrilled with how much more effective you can be at getting angry customers to back down! And once you’ve gotten a taste of using verbal self-defense tactics and a little psychology on difficult customers, you will be completely STOKED! Get the full story here.

Verbal Aikido: A strategy for handling difficult customers

Two young women dressed in kimonos bowing to each other

In my live Verbal Aikido workshops, I demonstrate the martial art Aikido and offer it as a strategy for diffusing anger. I began teaching this unconventional approach to managing conflict after having my breath taken away as I watched Steven Segal effortlessly defeat his opponents without violence or aggression in half a dozen of his movies. Aikido is a non-violent martial art that never meets force with force and can be applied to conflict situations with demanding, irate or unreasonable customers. (I’ve personally used Aikido in situations with customers, employees, and co-workers.) Using the principles of Aikido, you too can diffuse anger and demonstrate fantastic control over all aspects of verbal attacks.

People using “verbal aikido” can respond to heated situations directly and assertively without being pulled into the drama of the battle, and they can lay the foundation for win-win resolutions that maintain the customer’s loyalty – even with angry customers. Here are 6 Aikido principles that will help you more effectively respond to anger.

1. An Aikidoist strategically calms down the attack. This is done by both the use of relaxed body posture and open hands. Verbal attacks from irate customers also need the same calming strategy. In Aikido, the master will step aside rather than confront the attack. This takes power and speed out of the attack and allows the master to stay centered and calm. When you respond to your customer with “Clearly, we’ve upset you and getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.” anger begins to dissipate. You’ve addressed the anger directly and non defensively, and you haven’t been pulled into the drama of the attack.

2. Aikido never meets force with force. In fact, there are no direct attacks and very little striking or kicking. When dealing with angry customers, it is natural to respond to attack with an attack. If the customer yells, we escalate our voice. When the attack gets personal, we become defensive and less willing to work with the customer. While we may feel justified in launching our attack because we’ve been attacked, we must realize that a defensive (forceful) response only escalates the original problem. Let’s learn from the Aikido masters and not attack back defensively. Instead, we will respond carefully and strategically.

3. Aikido emphasizes quick, decisive movements that are designed to use the attacker’s force against him. This is done through evasive movements, body shifting, and leverage. Taking this to a verbal level, you’d take a customer’s intensity and sense of urgency and use that to your advantage with a reply like: “No question, we’ve messed up. Getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.” Instead of letting the customer’s intimidation tactics negatively impact you, you turn that energy back at the customer by pacing his actions.

4. Aikidoists blend with their opponent’s energy. In Aikido, this looks as if you move toward your opponent and then change places with them. In a verbal attack, blending with your customer is finding common ground with the customer. You can blend with your angry customer by listening with a sincere intent to understand their pain, frustration, and needs and then responding with empathy. The knowledge you gain from listening to your customer becomes your force and positions you to redirect the energy in a productive direction. Once you’ve blended with the customer, that is, once you truly understand the customer’s situation, the attack can be neutralized and redirected.

5. Aikido students learn to turn with their opponent’s force and let that force go past them. When we respond to angry customers in this way, we’re able to keep our cool when customers get hot. We don’t get caught up in the emotion of anger. Instead, we allow the customer to express his feelings, and we don’t take comments personally, and we don’t allow our feelings (anger, rejection, offense) to control our responses.

6. An Aikido Master never seeks to kill his opposition. When we transfer this principle to customer service situations, we realize that our goal is to never hang up on a customer, blow a customer off, or “fire” a difficult customer. Our goal is to find more diplomatic ways to communicate and reach win-win resolutions.

7. In Aikido, all opponents are considered partners. Think of your angry customer as your partner and let this mindset direct you to use interactive dialogue to work with your customer to solve the problem. Try to not resist or coerce your “partner.” Work with your partner, talk with your partner, and seek solutions that benefit the customer and the company.

Applying the principles of Aikido to challenging situations with unhappy customers allows you to maintain composure and control, and efficiently diffuse anger. The next time you’re faced with a demanding customer, why not go Steven Segal…you’ll have fun and you’ll be amazed how productive you’ll be!

Was This Helpful?

I’m asking you because my newsletter offers ideas like this all the time. If you’re not yet subscribed, sign up here.

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones and Words Really Can Hurt Me

Lauren today by Myra Golden
Lauren today, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Whoever said this, lied through their teeth. They lied or they have veins of steel.

Last night my daughter came home from her 6th Grade Social visibly down. She looked beautiful, but something clearly burdened her. When I asked about the social and what went on, she put up a strong front, yet she was transparent. She went upstairs and napped. She never naps. When she awoke, we talked. After much probing, I learned that a 6th grade boy, accompanied by his “boys,” walked up to her and called her an ugly b#@%&. “I was really strong mommy. I managed not to cry the whole time.” That broke my heart. This isn’t the first incident we’ve had with this boy.

As you can imagine, I was livid. But my first priority was to make Lauren feel better. We talked about how people can say ugly, mean things and that what this boy said was not true. I told Lauren that she is absolutely beautiful. I held her, caressed her, prayed for her, and gave her pointers on how to handle mean people. Lauren couldn’t concentrate on anything the entire evening. She couldn’t eat, couldn’t read, couldn’t even sleep. She came downstairs about 11:30pm and just cried in my arms. She told me that she never wanted to ride the bus again. The little boy rides her bus and gets on and off at her stop. My heart broke last night.

This morning I took Lauren to school so she wouldn’t have to ride the bus with the boy. I wanted her to feel safe and comfortable, but I don’t want to teach her to run away from her problems. I know that we need a proactive solution; not avoidance. As she got out of the car, I promised her that Daddy and I would handle the situation. I cleared my business calendar and made my daughter’s issue my only focus. My husband called the boy’s father and they discussed the words spoken and my daughter’s crushed spirit. I spoke with the school counselor. Then I called up a client who is also a friend. Her daughter has been a victim of bullying. My client assured me that my feelings of outrage, heartbreak, helplessness, and fear are normal. She gave me concrete ideas on how to proceed and how to protect my daughter from ugliness at school.

My daughter will get through this. Her Daddy and I will make sure she heals and learns from this. Words really do hurt. Words can shatter people and leave scars. I think words can hurt more than sticks and stones. Parents, please talk to your kids about the impact of their words. Encourage your kids to THINK before they speak.

Your words can really, really hurt someone. Think…before you speak.