5 Phrases That Work Better Than "Ma'am, I Need You to Calm Down."

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The Problem

Telling a person to calm down never works. If your partner told you to calm down, would you? Exactly. That doesn't work with your customers, either.


To tell someone to calm down is to invite conflict. It's like you're pushing your customer into a corner or a seat. As humans, it is our natural response to push back when we feel pushed. So, if telling a person to calm down is pushing, they don't calm down; they push back with a reaction.


Letting the customer rage on isn't helpful, either. Instead of solving the problem, it creates a bigger one; since other customers have to wait, the customer gets angrier, and you become more frustrated. Your boss is also annoyed with you because your handle time is too long. The more angry the customer gets, the more difficult it is to bring the conversation to an end.


It may be that some customers are baiting you. If you say defensively, "Ma'am, I need you to calm down," they know they've got you. Don't give your customer the satisfaction.


The Solution


Assert your way into a conversation without interrupting by using one of these phrases:

One. "We want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do."
Two. Lead with "It seems Like, or It sounds like..." - "It sounds like you've had a frustrating time." or "I know it seems like these things take forever."
Three. "I can see your point on that."
Four. "If I were in your shoes, I think I'd feel the same way."
Five. "I'm so glad you contacted us about this. We appreciate customers who let us know when things aren't right." (This is you calming them with kindness!)


The Benefit

Validating the customer makes them feel heard and understood, allowing them to listen to you.


When you validate, you put yourself on the same side of the issue as the customer, and you're no longer the enemy but rather a partner to the customer, working with them against the problem, working to find a solution to the problem.


Your Turn


Recall the last escalated interaction you had with a customer. Try to remember what you said or typed in response to their anger.

Now, imagine you could have that conversation again. What would you say to validate the customer?



When you validate your customers, rather than push back by telling them to calm down, you'll find it's much easier to lower the temperature and guide customers to the next steps!


Continue the Conversation with Me?

If you find you need more help de-escalating customers, check out my De-escalation Academy. 


When you send your employees to my De-escalation Academy, they learn how to get angry customers to back down without feeling nervous and move interactions to closure without escalating to a supervisor.


Check Out Our Most Popular Training - De-escalation Academy!

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