It’s sometimes surprising what the triggers can be for some angry parents who catch you completely off-guard with their rude outbursts. A confusion about their child’s grade. An error in an invoice. Lost property. A suspicion of neglecting their child’s concerns in class. Issues that can be easily resolved with a simple, open discussion could end up getting blown out of proportion just because they choose the offensive route to bring it to your notice.
While some outbursts might be rooted in genuine concerns about the welfare of their child or possible disappointment in the service you offered, some might defy all logic and could just be the way the person reacts to problems in general. Now, how do you get yourself to manage the situation gracefully, prevent the incident from escalating and tarnishing the reputation of your organisation?
What is the best way to deal with angry parents?
It is only natural to feel agitated or intimidated when you have an angry parent looming over you and shouting at you in your face. Even though your instinctive reaction might be to get defensive and retaliate, it is important to keep your cool and maintain composure to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
Retorting in kind will only add fuel to their aggression and aggravate the tension. Take a few deep breaths. Count to ten and bring on your poker face. Remember to keep your body language relaxed and try to maintain appropriate eye contact. No eye rolls or crossed arms which could suggest aggression or defensiveness from your part.
Do Not Take It Personally
Remember the anger is not aimed at you. An emotionally fuelled reaction from your side will only end up shifting the attention from the actual problem to hurt egos. Remind yourself that they do not know you as a person and it’s part of your job to address the concerns of your customers (parents) professionally.
Hear them out. Try to keep your focus trained on what they are trying to say and not on their tone of voice or their intimidating body language. Give them the opportunity to vent their frustration without interjecting with explanations. Wait for them to finish and calmly summarize what they said, confirming whether that was what they meant.
As difficult as it would be under the circumstances, make an effort to offer them an apology (without sounding forced) – something along the lines of ‘I am sorry that you are unhappy about what happened. Let me see what I can do to resolve this.’
Offer a Fast Resolution
Ask them if they have any suggestions on what needs to be done or put forward what you think might be a fair solution that can be implemented without delay. While this would help you bring the situation under control in most cases, there are times when you will find the parent still raging on with atrocious demands if they are just bent on being rude and unreasonable.
In such cases, make sure you calmly remind them that you are trying to help them and offer further suggestions that would be acceptable to both parties. And ensure you follow up on your word.
Get yourself a breather
Despite the brave face that you put up and the professionalism you try to exude, its only natural that you’d find yourself emotionally drained and exhausted after a rude confrontation. Do not let the stress get bottled up inside. Take a short break, get some fresh air or have a chat with a colleague who can lift your spirits up.