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(Updated June 2015)

Do you feel that you have to work with all clients, no matter how difficult they are? They may be more trouble than they're worth. Find out how to deal with difficult customers, when and how to "fire" a customer, tips on managing stress, and much more. (C. Dodge, Information Specialist)

E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.

Ten Tips for Dealing With Difficult People

  1. Maintain self-control
  2. Ask non-threatening questions
  3. Listen to the customer's reason for being difficult
  4. Acknowledge the problem
  5. Don't argue
  6. Apologize
  7. Offer to rectify the situation
  8. Continue to act professionally
  9. Analyze what caused the client's behavior
  10. Set limits on what you will tolerate

Handling Difficult​ Customers

How to Avoid 'Losing It', (REALTOR® Magazine, June 15, 2015).

3 Tips to Deal with Difficult Customers, (Forbes, July 28, 2014).

Handling a Disgruntled Buyer Once the Sale Is Final, (RealtyTimes, May 18, 2015).

8 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Client, (American Express, Apr. 18, 2014).

3 Strategies for Dealing With Toxic People, (Entrepreneur, Apr. 15, 2014).

Why You Need a 'Calmer' at Home Inspections, (REALTOR® Magazine, March 2014).

Stress M​anagement

How Job Stress Might Be Killing You, and What You Can Do About It, (U.S. News & World Report, June 15, 2015).

Stress Management - Ways to Relieve Stress, (WebMD, Nov. 14, 2014).

Dealing with Angry People: Learning How to Defuse Tense Situations, (MindTools, n.d.).

Coping with Job Stress, (PsychCentral, Jan. 30, 2013).

Coping with Stress: Workplace Tips, (Mayo Clinic, May 25, 2013).

How to Fire​ Your Difficult Customers

10 Ways to Tell When It's Time to Fire a Client, (About Money, n.d.).

3 Painless Scripts to Free Yourself of Problem Clients, (Nick Reese, n.d.).

4 Reasons to Fire a Client, (Forbes, Oct. 20, 2013).

5 Customers You Should Fire, (Inc., Jan. 16, 2013).

How to fire a client, (ActiveRain, Aug. 3, 2009).

Useful We​bsites

REALTOR® Safety — Helping NAR members understand the risks they face through knowledge, awareness, and empowerment.

HelpGuide — A trusted non-profit guide to mental health and well-being.

The American Institute of Stress — The mission of AIS is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence of stress management in education, research, clinical care and the workplace.

MindTools — Learn the leadership, management and personal effectiveness skills you need for a happy, successful career.

Active Rain — ActiveRain is a community of real estate professionals who exchange ideas to grow their business. It provides a way for agents and other real estate industry contributors to connect, share, and learn.

eBooks & O​ther Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

151 Quick Ideas to Deal with Difficult People, (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Make Difficult People Disappear, (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Advanced facilitation strategies: Tools & techniques to master difficult situations (Adobe eReader)

The complete idiot's guide to coping with difficult people (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Conversations for change: 12 ways to say it right when it matters most (Adobe eReader)

Dealing with difficult people: 24 lessons for bringing out the best in everyone (Adobe eReader)

Getting them to see it your way: Dealing with difficult and challenging people (Adobe eReader)

How people tick: A guide to over 50 types of difficult people and how to handle them (Adobe eReader)

Perfect phrases for dealing with difficult people (Adobe eReader)

Who's your Gladys? How to turn even the most difficult customer into your biggest fan (Adobe eReader)

Working with difficult people (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Coping With Difficult People In Business and In Life, (OverDrive WMA Audiobook)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Agency Disclosure

Field Guide to Due Diligence for Home Buyers

Field Guide to Errors and Omissions Insurance

Field Guide to Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Field Guide to REALTOR® Safety

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.