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5 Steps To Handle Stressful Client Interactions With Ease
As a small business owner, I bet you occasionally find yourself in stressful client interactions--you know those conversations that seem to escalate with no solution in sight. It’s not always easy to be kind and patient when someone is angry or upset. Working with difficult clients can be stressful and even overwhelming. They often have an unending list of requests, demands and deadlines, and they expect you to meet all of them.
I know you are committed to your clients, for they are the reason you’re bringing your product or service to the world. With this in mind, if you can find new ways to handle stressful interactions, you can create new possibilities for your working relationships. In this article you’ll learn five steps to handle stressful client interactions with ease, to transform difficult situations into easeful ones. This will enable you to create a successful, profitable business that makes a real difference in the world.
1. Approach Each Client Situation in a “Charge Neutral” Manner
In the process of dealing with a stressful client interaction (whether on the phone or face-to-face), quietly check in with yourself to see what it’s causing for you. If you’re feeling anxious or defensive or “revved up,” it’s helpful to become neutral quickly. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention on your feet for a minute. 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
You know the saying, “The Customer Is Always Right”? It’s quite true. 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. Doing slow, deep breathing (in and out of your nose with your mouth closed) allows you to slow down enough to get curious.
4. Ask Powerful, Clarifying Questions
During a stressful interaction with a client, it’s a good idea to ask them some specific open-ended questions (in a charge-neutral fashion) 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’re like to have included?” or “What questions do you have about this?” 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 (clients appreciate it when they get to choose how a problem will get resolved.) Once you agree on the solution, create a clear agreement around it (with specific, measurable and time-bound parameters) 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.
One of my clients did this when dealing with an angry customer in his eco-printing business. He momentarily changed his focus in the midst of a difficult conversation. He took a few breaths and consciously stayed very calm. He soon noticed that his customer actually calmed down as well. They quickly reengaged and came to a solution to the problem they were facing. By approaching the situation in a charge-neutral manner and tapping into his mind-body connection, my client was able to get himself and his customer to create the perfect result. With ease in mind, he brought a new lightness to the situation, producing wonderful new possibilities.
I wish you well as you begin to look for ways to handle all your client interactions with ease. May you know joy, may you know peace and may you work with ease.
Visit www.WorkWithEase.com to receive your free audio program entitled “7 Simple Strategies to End Work Stress and Overwhelm with Confidence.”
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