Complaints, Confrontations, and Verbal Attacks, O My!

Maybe, as a planning professional, you don’t see as many frustrated guests as those with “boots on the ground” during an event.  But, even if you don’t deal directly with discontented guests, you need to train your support staff on responding with grace, calm, strength and professionalism.

  • Grace. As Christians, we come at this challenge with, I believe, an extra tool. We have seen God extend His grace to us, time after time when we are frustrated, angry, whiney, or disappointed. Extend that same grace to your frustrated guests. Instead of a “this again” attitude, pray that God will give you wisdom to see past their attitude and problem, to a person that is important to God.
  • Calm. Take a deep breath and know that a calm attitude on your part is the appropriate response. This may go without saying, but escalating through gestures, tone, or voice level will NOT help the situation. “A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)
  • Strength. Just because you are extending grace, and responding in a calm way, does not mean you must give in to every demand. There are some guidelines that can’t be broken, no matter how much they upset someone. Along the same vein, no matter how much my children beg, they cannot play in the street. It isn’t. going. to. happen. If you can’t give the guest what they are hoping for, go deeper. What is the underlying issue? Can you address that in a different way?
  • Professionalism. Responding to difficult, frustrated guests is part of your job, see it as such. Imagine getting a performance review after each encounter. What did you do correctly? Incorrectly? How could you improve? This is a part of your job, not an argument to “win” or “lose”.

What are some strategies you have found helpful in dealing with irritated, angry guests? How do you train your team of event professionals to handle these situations?