Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

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Stay Pleasant with Mean Callers

Q.  I'm a customer service tech for a company that provides Internet service to consumers and businesses. During a recent storm season we were inundated with calls from customers that lost Internet connections. We were able to help some of them restore service, but others had to wait for repair people. The problem was they were shouting with anger by the time they were connected to me. Also, most had turned their speakerphones on so they could walk around the house while waiting. That meant they couldn't understand me, and vice versa, and when I asked them to turn back to regular tones they got even angrier. Was there some nicer way to do that? I always said "Please."

Ans. The best way to diffuse anger is to agree. You could say you are very sorry they had to wait, very sorry they have a problem, and that you'll do your best to help because you know what a strain they are under. The speakerphone is a bigger problem because so many people think that enhances the conversation when it too often causes more difficult hearing. Again, keep saying please, and do the best you can. Unfortunately, you can't control the other end of phone conversation. Bear with it if you want to keep that job.
Hearing anger is part of it.

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