Every business will encounter difficult clients at some point. While you can't always prevent tension in meetings, there are ways to stop disagreements from escalating and potentially damaging your objectives. Here are some tips to help you manage and diffuse these situations swiftly:
Keep your coolThe first rule to remember when dealing with an angry client is to remain calm and not let your own feelings spiral out of control. Fighting fire with fire is only going to escalate the situation and will worsen your working relationship in the long term. More often than not, your client's anger might not even be a reaction to your performance, as his or her frustration might have been caused by internal struggles. So, try not to take their behaviour personally, as the cooler head will always prevail.
Let them ventBe patient and let them get it all out. Even if you feel very unfairly treated, do resist the urge to defend yourself and get your side of the story heard before they're finishing with voicing their grievances. Most clients that get angry just want to be heard and understood. In many cases, the best move is to simply listen while your client blows off a little steam. By really listening to your client's point of view you may discover ways to improve your business processes and avoid similar problems going forward. Don't be too apologetic, if you sense that your client's complaint isn't justified. Instead, make an extra effort to understand where their frustration really comes from.
Acknowledge their frustrationWhile it's easy to roll your eyes and dismiss angry comments as irrational, disregarding or belittling a client's concerns will only inflame them more. The quicker you acknowledge their frustration, the faster they will return to a more objective approach. Once you have shown that you understand their concerns, you can steer the conversation back to finding solutions. Validating your client's concerns helps to reduce their need to further justify their anger, and moves you one step closer to resolving the issue.
Agree on a concrete planAlways try to conclude the meeting with a solid plan for moving forward, and email a recap of it to the client with timelines and specifics. This ensures all parties are on the same page. If you didn't manage to reach a solution, set a date to send a new proposal or to have a follow-up meeting. It's crucial to plan ahead so that you keep the momentum going and earn back your clients trust.