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Field Guide to Working With Difficult Customers

(Updated August 2013)

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, and much more. (C. Dodge, Information Specialist)

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

Should You Ever Fire A Client?, (colestreet.com, May 27, 2013).

10 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers, (foxbusiness.com, July 20, 2012).

Relationship management: 6 bad client behaviors you'll encounter, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2011).

What you had to say: 5 ways to deal with difficult clients, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2011).

Keeping it civil, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 2010).

Help emotional clients keep their cool, (REALTOR® Magazine, Sept. 2008).

Dealing With Unhappy Customers, (mindtools.com, n.d.).

Handling customer complaints, (Sideroad.com).

How to Fire Your Difficult Customers

It’s Time to Fire Your Client When…, (realestatecoach.com, 2010).

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

You don't need the aggravation: When to fire a client, (U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 24, 2008).

7 signs it's time to drop a client, (About.com, April 21, 2008).

How to Fire a Client, (realtytimes.com, Nov. 25, 2003).

Letting Go: How to Fire Your Agent or Client, (about.com, n.d.).

Top 10 ways to fire the client from hell, (InsideCRM).

When and how to fire a client, (rswarren.com).

eBooks & Other 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 Errors and Omissions Insurance

Field Guide to Mediation and Conflict Resolution

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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.