Are you flustered when prospects or customers get angry over botched orders, typos in sales contracts or some other miscommunication?

It helps to understand that people express anger differently. Three common profiles:

Blamers typically start off with, “You should’ve…” or “I thought you…”, suggesting you’re in the wrong. They focus on others instead of admitting “I’m angry,”or “I’m upset.”

Exploders shout, scream, or holler when something doesn’t go their way. This behavior is most common among authority figures – they may use anger to intimidate or manipulate. It may also be a defense mechanism.

Saboteurs give you “the silent treatment” by avoiding communication. Included: ambiguous or vague e-mail replies, skipping scheduled meetings or calls and other passive-aggressive moves.

What to do? First, don’t try to threaten or control a blamer or exploder. Let them vent without asking them to calm down or trying to explain.

Second, show you understand. Say “I understand how you feel, and I’d be angry, too.” That’s simple and doesn’t imply you agree with any criticisms lodged against you.

If someone is engaged in sabotage or passive-aggressive behavior, draw them out. Ask something like, “Do you have any concerns that would get in the way of us moving forward together?”

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