When the Customer's Tone or Language Puts You on the Defensive, Here's What I Want You to Do.

how to handle difficult customers q & a

Here's a transparent and great question from one of my subscribers.



How do I keep calm and maintain the right tone when a caller uses foul language and puts me on the defensive?


My answer 

First, it's entirely normal to feel defensive when we're disrespected. I love that you're aware of feeling defensive and want to do something about that proactively. Secondly, here are six steps I'd like you to try.

  1. Take a deep breath: Before responding, pause for a beat, and take a deep breath. This will help you regain your composure and remain calm. (This is something I'm still learning to do myself!)
  2. Stay focused on the issue: Remember, your primary goal is to resolve the customer's concern or problem. Don't let their language distract you from addressing the issue at hand, or take your power.
  3. Empathize with the customer: Understand that the caller may be frustrated, and their language may reflect their emotions. (This does not justify inappropriate treatment!) Express empathy for their situation by saying something like, "I understand that you're upset, and I'm here to help."
  4. Use a calm and steady tone: Speak in a calm, steady, and reassuring manner, even if the caller continues to use foul language. This will help defuse the tension and encourage them to calm down.
  5. Set boundaries: Politely but firmly inform the caller that you're willing to help, but expect them to treat you respectfully. For example, you could say, "I want to help you resolve this issue, but we must communicate respectfully." Here are 57 phrases that can help you set boundaries and calm almost any customer.
  6. Stay in control: Remember that you can control the conversation. If the caller's language becomes excessively aggressive or offensive, you can end the call and escalate it to your supervisor.


By following these steps, you can maintain the right tone of voice and remain calm, even when faced with a caller who uses foul language or puts you on the defensive. You've got this, my friend!

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