How to Calm Down a Cursing Client

by Lisa McQuerrey

At some point in your career, you're likely to run across a client who gets so angry and frustrated that she loses her temper and uses inappropriate language. Handle cursing, angry clients with kid gloves to protect yourself and your colleagues and to resolve the issue before it gets out of control.

Maintain Your Cool

If you start to get angry, your anger will only fuel that of the client and escalate the situation. Remain calm and even-tempered as you soothe the angry individual, and avoid getting drawn into a war of words. Don't interrupt the client in the middle of a rant or tirade; rather, look for appropriate openings to acknowledge the frustration with a soft-spoken phrase such as, “I understand you're upset, and I'm trying to help you.”

Try to Reach Compromise

Trying to devise a compromise with a cursing client requires fast thinking and a rational approach. Know in advance what type of service parameters you’re qualified to work with, such as issuing refunds, repairing or replacing products or allowing returns. Attempt to find out what the customer is cursing about and what type of resolution he's looking for. If his request is within reason and you can quickly take care of the situation, do so. If what the customer is asking for is outside the bounds of your authority, contact someone who can respond to the client appropriately. If the client is completely out of line, calmly state the company's position and be prepared to call for backup if the situation becomes more contentious.

Don't Allow Language to Continue

If a client continues to use inappropriate language despite your efforts to diffuse the situation, take control of the situation in a more forceful manner. “Ma'am, I cannot speak to you when you're using that type of language,” or, “Sir, this language is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. If you calm down, we can discuss this professionally.” If the client’s temper continues to escalate, it's time to employ your company's best practices for handling irate customers.

Call Security

An angry and irate client who is screaming a blue streak with no signs of settling down runs the risk of becoming violent and hurting you, your staff members or other customers. Call security to intervene if you can't quickly resolve the matter. Your company should have a policy for handling potentially violent situations, such as bringing in support staff, distracting patrons away from the conflict or calling the police.

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