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(Updated October 2016)

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 manage expectations, deal with difficult clients, and how to fire them. Also learn about the effects of workplace stress and what you can do to manage it. (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

Managing Client Expectations

How To Set Expectations With Clients, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2016).

Managing Expectations Like a Pro, (James Archer, June 2015).

3 Ways to Help Buyers Set Realistic Expectations, (Market Leader, Dec. 10, 2014).

5 Questions Every Agent Should Ask a New Real Estate Client, (Placester, Dec. 18, 2012).

Managing Expectations, Teaching Change, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 2011).

Handling Difficult​ Customers

Dealing With Difficult Real Estate Clients, (Middlegate Funding, Feb. 18, 2016).

Brokerage Reminder: Agents beware – 5 signs of a difficult client, (FirstTuesday Journal, May 20, 2015).

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

The 5 Most Difficult Real Estate Clients, (The Real Estate Word, Nov. 5, 2014).

The 8 Most Challenging Types of Real Estate Clients, (Disqus, May 14, 2014).

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

Help Emotional Clients Keep Their Cool, (REALTOR® Magazine, Sept. 2008).

Stress M​anagement

Coping with Stress at Work, (American Psychological Association, 2016).

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

Listening v Hearing: How to Diffuse Angry Customers, (Business 2 Community, Sept. 16, 2014).

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

Anti-Stress Action Plan: How To Deal With Stressful Clients, (Startup Savant, n.d.).

How to Fire​ Your Difficult Customers

When is it OK to Let a Real Estate Client Go?, (Follow Up Boss, Mar. 28, 2016).

Why Your Realtor May Say "You're FIRED!", (The Las Vegas Luxury Home Pro, Nov. 20, 2015).

Firing Offenses, (The Ready Agent, Mar. 1, 2015).

How to Fire a Real Estate Client Gracefully, (Zurple, Feb. 17, 2015).

Before You Fire That Real Estate Client, (Zurple, Aug. 26, 2014).

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

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

Useful We​bsites

Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual — National Association of REALTORS®.

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)

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)

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

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)

Make Difficult People Disappear, (Kindle, 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)

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 Home Inspections

Field Guide to REALTOR® Safety

Field Guide to Working With First-Time Homebuyers

Information Services Blog

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