- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

How to calm an angry person down

1st March, 2023

How to calm an angry person down

I was hold listening to Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red for 48 torturous minutes.


A customer service representative, Clare, finally put me out of my misery.


I’d been trying to close an old bank account for months.  I’d written dozens of emails and made countless phone calls, but nothing seemed to work.


The darn account was like a zombie rising from the dead.  


So by the time Clare answered, I was spitting feathers.


But Clare, unlike her previous colleagues, knew just what to say.


First she acknowledged my anger:


‘I completely agree that closing a simple bank account should never be this hard.  It’s crazy.’’


I felt myself softening.  


Secondly, she showed she understood my goals:


‘I totally understand how this ongoing battle must be stopping you from moving forward with your new bank.  How frustrating.’


Dang, Clare was good.


And then the sucker punch – a proper apology, in simple language.  Not ‘I’d like to apologise on behalf of [Rubbish Bank]’ but just:


‘I’m so sorry.’


Now of course none of this would have counted if Clare hadn’t managed to close my account (she did).


But I already felt better.


And this approach works brilliantly in all communications when dealing with someone who’s frustrated:

  1. Acknowledge their feelings
  2. Show you understand their objectives
  3. Use simple, human language (and never be too proud to apologise)


(Caveat: it of course needs to be genuine, not just lip service.  And you need to offer a solution too.)


Would Clare’s approach worked for you?  Or do you have a cold, dead heart?

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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