Is Rude the new ‘Tude?

When did it become fashionable to be so rude? In the past several weeks, I’ve had several people ask me about those rude customers that I referred to in my blog titled “Why are you (as a customer) so rude? Disgruntled employees want to know.”  One question asker works in retail and the other works in a hotel. Both mentioned that in the past 15 years or so, customers are becoming more and more rude. In fact, one worker mentioned that 80% of her customers are rude. And after 40 hours of working with this type of people, it tends to wear you down.rude-customer2[1]

So, what’s a customer service rep to do? You have two options:
1. If you like your job and are truly passionate about serving and helping customers, then YOU will need to be the one who changes her attitude. Remember, a positive attitude is contagious.
2. If you don’t like your job and upper management does not support you, then it may be time to look for another job.

I have found that if a customer service rep has an attitude of service — truly wanting to help — customers will see this and, many times, will change THEIR attitude.

Real world story: Years ago, I worked in the technical support department of a medical diagnostics company. Approximately 99% of the people who called were mad because something wasn’t working correctly. Usually, after listening and empathizing, I was able to turn them around. However, I remember a particular call in which the customer just kept yelling at me. Inexperienced and not knowing what to do, I yelled back. This didn’t go over too well with the customer. He demanded to speak to my manager, so I said, “Fine!” I went running to my manager’s office to let him know what had happened. After my manager dealt with the “incident,” he gave me a lecture about how to handle irate customers. He taught me the LEAR model – Listen, Empathize, Acknowledge, and Respond – which is what I use to this day. It’s amazing how well LEAR works with irate people. The model reinforces the well-known phrase “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So what can you do if you’re getting tired of people yelling at you? Following are several options. The key is to do what works for YOU!

  1. Take a break
  2. Drink some water
  3. Eat chocolate
  4. Talk to a friend
  5. Tell a joke
  6. Read something inspirational
  7. Look at a picture of your children
  8. Don’t look at a picture of your children
  9. Listen to your favorite songdancing-employees-pan_11910[1]
  10. Sing
  11. DANCE
  12. Go for a walk
  13. Be grateful
  14. Organize your office
  15. Pet your dog or cat
  16. SMILE
  17. Think about your angry customer’s perspective
  18. Look at the big picture
  19. LAUGH
  20. Compliment someone

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Learn, practice, and use the LEAR model – Listen, Empathize, Acknowledge, and Respond.
  2. Never combat rude behavior with rude behavior – no matter how tired you are.
  3. Have an “attitude of service” at all times.
  4. Relieve your stress by doing something that you enjoy.

What do YOU do to deal with difficult customers? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Responses to “Is Rude the new ‘Tude?”


  1. 1 Sam Hatman March 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Watching body language and listening are key behaviors to practice with the rude. Now that I’m 60 rude is not as frequent toward me. But I do take names. This is to follow up. I bring suggestions to management. My management is available and will interface directly with the “rudeness” when I have not achieved a mutually profitable resolve. I will implement your suggestions. Chocolate is effective, and sometimes for the customer chocolate helps if your senses indicate a willingness there.

    But, meeting the management face to face is usually the most effective resolve for the truly irate. We as a firm do the very best for our customer. A quality effort is felt on the visceral and intellectual levels concurrently. I am privileged to serve and outstanding population and employer.

    • 2 bnkhozam March 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment on my blog. I love your positive attitude. It sounds like you work at a supportive and respectful company. And that makes me happy.
      Keep up the great work!
      Barbara

  2. 3 Angelo April 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

    If the customer is rude he has a problem, he is either unhappy with a service or product. That problem is the most important thing to the customer, so as customer service representative it becomes your most important problem to solve. If you take this attitude, it will show empathy, taking ownership, and your ability to resolve the matter.

  3. 5 Top April 9, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Combine the two so you are off and working on your technique
    to overall health.

  4. 6 La'Shanae June 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I just smile and say have a nice day 🙂


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