Whether they’re having a bad day or merely misplacing their dissatisfaction, everyone has had to deal with difficult chamber members.
From off-the-wall requests to disgruntled event attendees, chamber pros sure hear their fair share of griping. Here are a few tips on how to deal with these situations.
How to Deal with Difficult Chamber Members
Diffuse the situation with positive language
Instead of using negative words, rephrase them with a positive sentiment. For example:
Instead of: “You can’t host this month’s member networking event.”
Try: “I have next month available for a member networking event. Interested?”
A genuine smile can be very comforting to people. However, if you have someone who is on a tirade don’t go full clown smile. That can incite anger. Instead go for empathy.
Nod your head in understanding and do your best to make them feel like you are listening because you’re interested not just placating them.
Speaking in a calm way can also soothe an angry member. It’s hard to continue to spew volcanic ash when someone is being nice to you.
I don’t believe in rewarding people for bad behavior but once that member calms down, be creative in solving their problem. Consider inventive ways you can help.
The answer may not always be within the confines that have been done before but if you meet them halfway and help solve their problem, they will remember that (assuming they are not your local Eeyore).
Go for the CARP
Customer service people are often trained in a methodology called CARP.
That stands for:
Control the situation
Acknowledge the issue
Refocus the conversation
Problem-solve a solution
Avoid Meaningless Excuses
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t admit you don’t know the answer but never use these tired excuses because members simply don’t care about them. Phrases to avoid include:
“Sorry, I just got back from vacation.”
“I’m new here.”
“The staff didn’t make me aware of this issue.”
These excuses may be valid but as far as the member is concerned, they don’t affect them. These phrases merely irritate them.
Dealing with difficult chamber members takes training.
While some people are natural soothers, most are not. Our initial response when attacked is to run or attack back.
As a chamber professional, you don’t have the luxury of attacking back. Whatever you say, can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion — or worse — social media. Instead, look for ways to help difficult people that are mutually beneficial. Then share the story with your friends later.