Our manners tell people a lot about who we are. When they are bad they speak volumes to the people we encounter. When it comes to interacting with people who either you work for, with or encounter at your job dealing with bad manners can be very difficult.
I was reminded of this the other day in our medical office. A patient was angry about a bill they received. They proceeded to verbally attack my front office assistant with slanders about how we run our business, to doctors make too much money and this is what is wrong with our system. The more that she tried to explain to him why he owed the more this man, went off about why do doctors think they should make so much money, he was a computer technician and his job was just as important.
When I heard this I realized that no matter what my assistant said, she was not going to get anywhere. So I stepped up to the counter and said “Good morning, my name is Tina, I am the office manager and I will try to help you.” Immediately he stopped, regrouped and directed his attention toward me.
The switch helped, but did not resolve the problem totally. He still didn’t like the fact that his insurance company had a deductible or the fact that he had to pay.
I gave a heads up to the back office of this man’s bad behavior as I did not think it was over so that they could be prepared.
I was correct, he did not stop and he not only went on and on to the back office assistant but also to the doctor.
What did help was that we (the office staff) all helped one another buffer ourselves as we encountered this badly behaved person. Which as we all know we will encounter again. When you work with the public this is a given.
There are three things you can do to help when people are behaving badly;
1. Remain objective, do not make comments back that could cause you to look unprofessional, just keep them on track as to what the main point of your encounter is.
2. If they are over the top, you may need to ask for assistance from a supervisor to step in and help handle the situation. Or if you are the supervisor step in at the appropriate time. Sometimes I have not had to say anything but just having someone else stand there will cause them to calm down.
3. Lastly be compassionate, which can be difficult when handling someone who is behaving badly, but remember there usually is an underlying reason for it.
By maintaining a professional attitude in handling the situation you can walk away from it knowing that the problem is not yours.