IF YOU have to deal with upset customers or difficult situations, you will know how stressful these encounters can be. Here are some guidelines you may find useful:

Seven general rules
1.Don't take an upset customer's rantings and ravings personally.

Don't get emotionally hooked. When you let him "push your buttons", you lose. When you respond emotionally with anger, sarcasm, frustration or tears, you cannot respond rationally. He wants to upset you because he thinks you will give him what he wants to get rid of him.

2. Make it a game or a challenge.

See how many upset customers you can turn around. Winning an angry customer over and getting him to be reasonable is an achievement. With each little "victory", you will gain confidence and improve your coping skills too.

3. Look for the "gifts" that upset customers offer you.

These "gifts" are what people can teach you about dealing with ugly human behaviour. The better you deal with angry customers, the fewer upset people you will have in your life. People will see through your body language and from your composure that you are confident you can find a solution without getting rattled.

4. Use psychology.

Understand that obnoxious customers are often embarrassed because they made a mistake and want to blame it on you.

5. Always be professional.

Respond by being reasonable, firm, pleasant, mature and professional to show that you are going to do what you think is right no matter how obnoxious the customer gets. Some people think that being rude is the only way to get action.

6. Don't give away the store to shut a customer up.

That rewards his behaviour and teaches him, and others, that acting belligerently is the way to get what he wants.

7. Put things in perspective.

Remind yourself that this abusive person must really have problems if this is how he treats others. He does not respect himself, so he does not show respect for others. But he does not know what you know about how to get people to do what you want - happily.

Seven specific actions
1. Listen fully and don't interrupt.

If you do, it will escalate an upset customer's anger. Take notes but look up often to maintain eye contact. Assume body language that shows you are interested and concerned.

2. Use a respectful tone.

Even though you do not respect the person's behaviour, use a calm but concerned tone of voice. Don't get distracted.

3. Remove him from the main customer area, if possible.

An angry customer who rants and raves to get attention knows that many people will give him what he wants to shut him up quickly.

4. Let him cool off if he is on the phone.

Tell the angry customer that you need to research the situation and possible solutions, and ask if you may call him back. Then do so at the appointed time. He probably will have calmed down by the time you call him back.

5. Talk about what you can do, not what you can't do.

Put it positively. Don't talk about the "policy". This will anger him more.

6. Use the "broken record" technique.

Repeat firmly, yet politely, what you can do for him.

7. Ignore his impoliteness and cursing.

A customer is really lashing out at your organisation, even though he may say, "You're incompetent" in a variety of ways.

If you allow his words to offend you, you have lost your objectivity and control, and he has won.

Edit his comments in your head so that you can make sense of his words without getting upset.

For example, if he says: "You're a fool. Why did you get this wrong? Who would ever hire an incompetent worker like you?"

You can translate this into: "He's really upset. Something is wrong. What can I do to help set it right?"

An important point to remember is that you cannot please everyone.

You should do the best you can, but there are some customers whom your organisation can do better without.

It is the management's responsibility to determine if this customer is one that should be encouraged to utilise someone else's services.

Upset customers can be unnerving. But with the right attitude and techniques, many of these people can be turned into satisfied, loyal customers.

It is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.