I know this is a bit perverse but don’t you think angry people are quite amusing? Some people are able to get steamed up very easily; I saw one ranting away in the supermarket car park about a wonky trolley wheel. The poor assistant was at first apologetic, then bemused and flustered, eventually calling for security.
As one of the rubber-neckers who slowed to enjoy the entertainment, it felt like being in the crowd at a Roman gladiatorial contest; uncomfortable to view but at the same time exhilarating. I found myself gripping the handle of my trolley ever more tightly as things started to get completely out of hand. Eventually a man in uniform stood between Angry Shopper and Unwitting Assistant. The latter now feeling secure enough to respond with a few choice comments about the parentage of his assailant. The event, by this stage, had managed to gather quite a crowd.
Like rutting stags, the altercation finished with a few snorts and hoof scrapings. Our Unwitting Assistant rounded up his trolleys and corralled them protectively back to the entrance of the store, including the slightly lame one that started the whole business. The crowd gave him admiring glances as they resumed shopping and all were, like me, secretly thankful it hadn’t been their responsibility.
To avoid this happening to you should you encounter an Angry Man here are a few tips:
- People get angry when they believe no one is trying to understand what they are saying.
- Visibly tune in to the customer.
- Listen actively with an open mind. Not judgemental, it’s important to them.
- Listen for the highlights. What is the problem? What is important to them? How do they feel about things?
- Feed back the highlights. Acknowledge strong emotions straight away. Link feelings to causes. Don’t just parrot back what you hear it can sound phoney. If you’re uncertain – check it out
- Golden Rule – Every response you make should indicate in some way that you’ve been listening
- Work to get the full picture.
- Summarise for complete clarity. ‘Let me see if I’ve got this right’
- Manage their expectations about what can and can’t be done for them, give timescales and as much certainty as possible.
Or fix the trolleys with wonky wheels.