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Anger Management

How to deal with irate customers without losing your cool

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This story appears in the April 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Your grand opening is well underway when a customer startspitching a fit at the checkout counter. Don't let thisperson's hysterical ranting scare off the other customers, saysAndra Medea, author of Conflict Unraveled: Fixing Problems at Work and inFamilies. When unruly customers are really worked up,they're not even hearing you, she says. Lower the tone of yourvoice, take the expression off your face, and place your palms onthe desk to project authority. An uncomfortable smile, backing awayand using a high-pitched voice will project nervousness and causethe customer to be more aggressive, says Medea.

Take a deep breath, and ask questions. "Get them toconstruct a sequence for you," says Medea. Avoid words likeshould--say things like, "I'm here to help." Walkinga short distance with a person can also help calm him or her down.Then outline how you'll deal with the problem.

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