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How to keep calm
in challenging situations

Beyond napping, which isn’t always feasible, especially in tense situations, what’s the best way to remain calm and relaxed as you go through challenging situations as a support person? There are a few tactics that you can use before, after, or during a stressful conversation with a customer that can help you keep your cool and close your conversation with minimal conflict.

  • Practice calming exercises. While on the phone, email, and chat, or off, it’s valuable to practice calming exercises for yourself. This could look something like meditation, or it could just be learning to breathe through your nose, out through your mouth. Either way, determining a type of calming exercise that you can use on or off the phone will help you when you have a customer interactions that are making you lose your cool.
  • Don’t take it personally. Remember, no matter what someone says to you that, ultimately, the issue did not stem from you. They were having trouble before they reached out to support, and are now using this opportunity to vent off some of their frustration. That is okay! It’s your job to absorb it, after all, but do not take it personally. The person potentially sitting there yelling at you is angry at something that happened outside of the interaction, not because of something you did or said.
  • Be empathetic. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. Try to get a mental picture of where the customer is before getting frustrated and judging them for their questions. For example, last winter my father had a stroke and I chatted with a car rental agency to push back my car rental. They seemed to not even have heard me, and I got angry and aggressive, I’m ashamed to admit. But, from the other side of things, I would have understood why someone whose father was dying might have been more easy to anger than normal.
  • Apologize genuinely. If you’re going to apologize at all, apologize genuinely. Don’t just say “sorry” and leave it at that. Make sure that they believe it, and make sure that you believe it when you say it, otherwise, it’s just more lip service that they probably don’t want to have paid.
  • “Chunk” the problem. When there is something large and unwieldy that you’re trying to deal with in regular, non-work life, what do you do? You break it up into smaller pieces, or into chunks. As you chunk the problem it becomes slightly easier to solve and figure out, and much less overwhelming. So, as you encounter something stressful or nerve-wracking, take a moment to break it down into chunks and see if that helps.
  • Focus on finding and solving the root problem. Another great way to solve difficult problems is to find the root problem at hand, and try to solve that first. Once you’ve gone down the path of finding the root problem, you have a much better understanding of each of the steps that it took to get there, also.
  • Take time. If you’re truly at your wit’s end and you just don’t know what to do, take a step away from your desk and the situation and try to move forward that way. Maybe that means a change of scenery, like walking around the block or in a nearby park, or perhaps just heading to a quiet room and reading a book for five minutes. No matter what you do, give yourself some space away from the problem to gain additional perspective.

We also asked our own Customer Champions for some tips. Here’s how they stay cool, calm and collected on chat:

  • Get a squishy toy, slime or playdough — something that you can squish in your hands. It really helps us relax.
  • If you work remotely, like us, saying whatever you think about the customer out loud can help blow off some steam. However, we don’t recommend doing it if you work in an office or in a co-working space, for obvious reasons :)
  • Exercise also helps relieve stress. If you have a chance, turn on your favourite song, stand up and do some jumping jacks or even dance, you’ll feel better in no time. If there are people around you, doing some simple movements to relax your stiff shoulders and neck can do wonders too.