Is Angry and Hostile Customer Behavior A Result of Their Personalities

Everyone acts badly on occasion, and the majority of your angry customers are probably just like you: normal people who get frustrated

Is Angry and Hostile Customer Behavior A Result of Their Personalities?

Think about some the difficult customers you have encountered.. What did they look like? What did they do? What unpleasant things did they say?

Here is an important question. What percentage of nasty customers you face are nasty ALL the time, to everyone in their lives? If that percentage is high, let’s say 90%, it means that most hostile and abusive customers are that way because of personality traits they bring with them wherever they go. If that percentage is much lower, it means that angry, hostile and abusive customer behavior is “situational”. In other words, it’s triggered by circumstances and situations.

If nasty customer behavior is a result of “personality”, then we are in trouble because we can’t “change the personalities of difficult or abusive customers. We’d all be helpless.

Luckily, nasty customer behavior isn’t a result of “personality”. The percentage of nasty customers who consistently behave badly all the time is rather small. That’s not to say consistently nasty human beings don’t exist. It’s just that they are in the vast minority. Most unpleasant customers CAN behave pleasantly and respectfully given the right situations.

How about you? Have you ever lost your temper, yelled at someone, or made an obscene gesture? Maybe you have argued aggressively or pressured someone to get your way? Of course you have. These lapses into aggression are part of being human.

Does it mean that you have some kind of personality defect or character problem as a human being? No. It means, that you ARE a human being. So are your customers.

That doesn’t excuse aggressive or hostile behavior, though that’s small consolation for the recipient of the aggression. What it does mean, though, is that your own angry behavior, just as with the angry behavior of your customers, is tied to the circumstances or situation you are in.

That’s good news. If nasty behavior is at least partially tied to the situation (customer’s problem, environment, how they are treated, what you say and do when dealing with the customer), then it’s possible to DO something about it. We can’t change their personalities, but we can alter the environment, address customer problems, and alter what we say and do. We are not helpless. The core of defusing customers involves addressing the things we have some control over.

Finally, that doesn’t mean that personality is completely irrelevant to the hostile customer issue. Obviously some people are more aggressive than others, even in the same contexts, and some are more prone to aggression. That said, we need to focus on the context/situation and what we can do, rather than fixed characteristics of aggressive customers.

Author: Robert Bacal

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