Coaching Firm Lawyers and In-House Counsel

How to Deal with an Irate Client

Lawyer CoachingWays to Bring a Boiling Conversation Under Control

Angry phone calls and heated conversations are common occurrences for attorneys. They often bear the brunt of their clients' frustrations. And, quite frankly, this is to be expected.

What is NOT expected, however, is for you to fight back. Dealing with irate clients is not about who's right and who's wrong. Nor is it about "winning" the argument. It's up to you to bring a boiling conversation back down to a simmer.

Also read: Facing Confrontation with Confidence

Here are some ways you can calm an over-heated client.

1. Show compassion by apologizing.

An apology isn’t a confession of culpability. It's a statement of compassion. It immediately defuses the situation and allows the conversation to move forward, giving you an opportunity to find out what went wrong. An apology also opens up dialogue about the possibility of preventing similar future problems.

2. Make the client feel you're working together.

This is critical to client satisfaction. Say something positive to ensure your client that you're willing to work with him or her to find a solution. Don't be their adversary!

Also read: 4 Ways to Manage Client Expectations

3. Be open to negotiation.

Ask the client what he or she would consider a decent deal creates a healthy starting place for negotiation. It shows the client that you are fair and reasonable, especially if you're asking the client to make the first offer.

4. Don't be patronizing.

Sometimes a simple question can be misconstrued into something very negative. For instance, phrases like "How can I help you?" and "How can I make you happy?" sound patronizing and may belittle the importance of the client's complaint.

These tips won't solve every client conflict, but they'll certainly help diffuse most situations. Remember - it is not you against them, or vice versa. Cooperation is key!

Also read: Are You About to Lose a Client?


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