Handle Angry Clients

The Ultimate Emergency Guide to Calm Angry Clients Down

Sometimes it just happens. You don’t even know what’s going on, but something had to go wrong – at least in the eyes of your client.

Not too long ago you were celebrating the success of your last project. Now you find yourself in a situation where your client is screaming at you, freaking out and saying things you don’t deserve to hear. How can you deal with such a situation?

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6 Steps to Calm Angry Clients down

1. Let the Dragon Vent

The most important thing to do is to take the client’s anger seriously. Don’t even think about ignoring or belittling your client’s resentments. When your client is hopping mad, pay attention but don’t disturb.

Furious people often just need to scream their anger out. Think about little kids. They scream often without a real reason. So let your client talk. Be patient. This is the first step in de-escalating the situation.

Depending on the level of anger, you might try to show your empathy by saying things like “I am sorry you are upset. Please tell me what happened Mr. XY.” Addressing your client by his or her name makes you look even more caring.

2. Stay Calm and Smile

I know it can be tough, but keep calm. It helps me personally to remember that most people don’t mean the things they say when they’re angry.

When you’re on the phone, try to smile. It seems a bit weird, but it’ll relax you. Your voice will be more friendly and open immediately.

Secret Weapon

Researchers discovered that smiling during a period of stress helps to reduce the body’s stress level. The remarkable thing about it: It works regardless of whether a person feels happy or not. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you are genuinely smiling. Just the fact that your cheeks form a smile will calm you down.

Source
Stay calm and smile.
Stay calm and smile.
(Photo by Patty Sue O’Hair / CC BY / Cropped and color correction)

3. Listen Actively, Repeat Your Clients Concerns

What went wrong? What does he or she expect you to do? Your goal is to find out why your client is upset. If you understand his or her problem you can work towards it.

Try to paraphrase and record what your customers tell you. Whenever you hear something important, try to repeat it. For example, you could say something like, “Let me make sure I understand right: You were doing…”

4. Apologize to Calm an Angry Client

When your account is flipping out, you have one main goal: Try to change your customer’s emotional state. As long as your account remains furious, you can’t work towards the problem. All you want is to bring your client back to a rational level.

A good way to reach this transformation is to show empathy, simply by stating that you understand. Show that you would feel the same. You could say things like, “I totally understand why you are upset. I would be too.”

It’s very important not to make up any excuses or place blame. Even if it’s not your fault, (which is typically the case) take full responsibility. The best thing you can do is to say sorry. This will show your client that you take care of his concern.

5. Propose a Solution

“Stop worrying about the problem. Worry about the solution!”

If you manage to bring your client back to a more rational level, you should try to offer solutions. A good way is to step in his or her shoes to make sure you offer something convincing.

A couple of times I’ve made the mistake of promising something – something I was not able to deliver. I know it’s much easier to just promise anything to calm your client down. But be warned. This will backfire on you.

Why? You will either be forced to admit to your client that you can’t keep your promise or your colleagues will have to take on the burden on your behalf. I would definitely avoid both situations.

In case you’re insecure about your solution or your client doesn’t accept it, try this. Pass the ball to your customer. Bluntly ask what would make him or her happy.

If you can’t accept your client’s proposal, explain why. Then offer another solution. You can say something like “I definitely want to work out a solution together with you that suits you. What do you think about XY as compensation?”

6. Take Action and Follow up

Once you agree on something, your client should calm down. Now you need to take action. Explain the steps you are going to take to fix the problem.

Stick to the steps that you communicated, no matter what happens. Remember to follow up within the next few days and make sure your client is happy. Whenever possible try to exceed your client’s expectations

Key Takeaways

There will always be angry clients, no matter how good you are. Sometimes customers just have a bad day. Their favorite sports team lost, they had an argument at home or their boss put extra pressure on them.

The Ultimate List

To calm an angry client down and make him or her happy again you can follow this 6-step emergency guide:

  1. Give your client time and space to vent.
  2. Try to stay calm. It helps when you smile, even when you are not happy.
  3. Listen actively to your client and repeat the core issues.
  4. Apologize to show empathy and bring the customer back to a rational level.
  5. Figure out a solution and agree on it.
  6. Show the next steps clearly and take action on them.

What helps you to calm your customers down? How do you handle situations like this? We at Filestage are curious to learn more about your experiences.

You may also like: “Client Feedback Doesn’t Need to be Painful” and “What Happens When Clients From Hell Give Feedback on the Bible?”

Passionate about communications and client relations. He loves to dig into behavioral economics to uncover the irrationality in our daily behavior.

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