I worked with a woman who left half a brownie in the fridge for weeks and then went back expecting it to be there. Once she saw it wasn’t there she went crazy. She keep saying, “I need a brownie fix, where is it?” (We were told to date our food and that if it was still there after two weeks, it would be trashed.) The other day I was looking for a piece of candy that I put into the freezer last year—yes last year! I would have killed for the candy.
While doing some training on anger for a business group, I told them about the cupcake. At first, they just looked at me but by the end of the session, they were saying to each other, “I think you’re in dire need of a cupcake!” My hunch is that’s their new mantra. If nothing else they’ll l probably not hear anything the person says after they begin to think “cupcake.”
Anger is a complex emotion. It is upsetting to many people who have been brought up not to express their anger or displeasure. Anger is considered a secondary emotion; in other words, it is covering up a primary emotion. This could be scared, humiliation, or fear to name a few. Anger is used to create distance between people. Anger can also be considered an act of violence; it can be painful and hurtful. So what should you do with an angry person or customer?
- It has nothing to do with you. It is a weapon being used against you. Its purpose is to scare and immobilize you. Remember you are never the cause of the anger; check out this article from Psychology Today.
- Take anger seriously. Take a deep breath and think, why are they in dire need of a cupcake, what happened to make them so fearful?
- Listen to the complaints or accusations and breathe. The worst thing you can do is tense up so much you can’t think.
- Consider, what is the underlying scare? Are they afraid they’re losing face, feeling stupid, scared or humiliated?
- If possible, side with them and state, “I understand why you would be angry about what happened; it would bother me too.” That doesn’t mean you’re giving in, you’re showing empathy.
- Give them enough room to let them run out of gas. Continue saying you understand. When they’ve finally calmed down, define the problem in logical terms.
- If it’s a black-and-white situation, hold your ground. If you have room to compromise, give it a shot.
Anger can be frightening. If you can let the person continue until they run out of steam, it will be easier to deal with them. If you need to, amuse yourself with the cupcake scenario.
Have problems with your business? Lisbeth will be happy to speak with you. Call her at 518-495-5380.