General Question

cookieman's avatar

Are you super nice to rude people?

Asked by cookieman (35570points) July 9th, 2008

I just got off the phone with the RMV. After a 45 minute wait on hold, I spoke with this insanely rude person.

My attempt to “kill her with kindness” fell on deaf ears as she was all kinds of rude through the whole conversation.

The finale was when I thanked her very much for her time at the end – and she hung up before I finished the sentence.

Have you tried this approach? And how has it worked? Any alternatives?

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18 Answers

autumnofage's avatar

I’d approach it by asking for her boss

amandaafoote's avatar

I’m just twice as rude back :D

wildflower's avatar

Yes! As a customer support agent, coach/trainer and manager, I’ve used this approach countless times!
I’ve kinda trained myself to respond this way. Once someone starts getting rude or aggressive, instead of sinking to their level, I put on a smile, take a step back and become far more polite, to the point of being formal.

If a situation really bothers me, but I know it’s not wise to show it, I aim to slip in a little sarcasm that the other person won’t detect, but I know is there and that serves as my venting :)

Most of the time it works brilliantly because the aggressor thinks they’re getting the upper hand, but actually I am because if they keep going, they’ll keep damaging their case – a bit of “give ‘em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”

tinyfaery's avatar

In a situation like you described I would not have taken your approach. She is a customer service agent, it is her job to assist you in a polite and efficient manner. I would have calmly told her she was being extremely rude and inappropriate, and then I would have asked to speak to her supervisor. Most call centers record and monitor calls, so there is likely proof of the conversation.

In other situations I often use your tactic, especially when dealing with people I see regularly. For the most part, it is effective. I refuse to tolerate abuse, so if it becomes too much, I never hesitate to walk away.

cheebdragon's avatar

if someone is rude to me, I will be very rude back.

SuperMouse's avatar

During my time working with disgruntled customers I perfected what I refer to as the “Bob Newhart Stammer” approach to customer service. When they are done venting to me, yelling, cursing, crying, or whatever, I stammer my response. It may sound silly but it works every time. I think it catches them off guard, makes them think they have shaken me, and that they’ll get their way. From there I am in control of the conversation.

iceblu's avatar

If someone is rude to me, i am very nice, i ask for the persons name and what dept. they are in and the supervisor on duty. When i feel the need, ill ask them to transfer me to the supervisor and explain to him/her what the problem is/was. If the supervisor is rude to me, since i have his name, and the last persons name, ill call back and speak with someone different. Ill explain to them what happen and see if there is anyone higher then that person i can speak to about the situation at hand.

flameboi's avatar

I try to be sarcastic :)

marinelife's avatar

I try nice first as you did. Often it works, as wildflower indicated.

Unfortunately, there are some people (who should not be in customer service) who take your responding with niceness as a sign of weakness, and then they escalate their bad behavior.

At that point, I usually stop them and say, “Please give me your name. Well, name, you have no right to be rude to me (or use that tone of voice or whatever the actual description is). If you do not stop, I will report this conversation to your supervisor.” If I am at that point, I always follow through too.

Knotmyday's avatar

I like to defuse the situation quickly so I can get on with my business.
“Waaait a minute. You know what?” then pause impressively until they say “What?” everybody says “what”
Then you say:

“I LIKE you. I really do. I think you’re a cool person. You are! You know what? I want to buy you something. I have twenty dollars right here, and it’s burning a hole in my pocket as we speak. Do you like flowers? You sound like a flower person. Chocolate? Chocolate is gooood. Twenty bucks worth, that’s a handful! Gum? Do you like gum? I love gum. You could have 40 packs of Wrigley’s spearmint. You could have 80 gumballs. I could hand deliver them, it would take like, 9 or 10 trips but I’d do it! I would do it right now, you could be chewing them as we speak…”

You have to say it really fast, though. And you have to smile while you’re saying it, otherwise you sound like an ass. I think the “You know what” really throws them off balance.
If they haven’t hung up at “I LIKE you,” they will be laughing by “80 gumballs.”

Knotmyday's avatar

just remembered something- it only works if they fully understand your language. Out-country service techs usually just get confused and belligerent. “What are you mean I am flowers?” etc. Ugly.

cheebdragon's avatar

that’s the strangest and yet most creative approach i have ever heard…..
; )

Adina1968's avatar

When someone is rude to me I politely point out there behaviour to them at a volume and tone just loud enough to be heard by the people around them and hope that it embarasses them and makes them feel like the jacka** that they are.

susanc's avatar

I am pretty nice, but I throw myself on their mercy: “I’m new at this – I need your help.” Should be obvious, but people forget.
If they’re not trying very hard, I ask them to please transfer me to “someone who knows what to do”. I don’t say “supervisor” because that implies the conversation is now
about their performance. I’m not interested in getting people in trouble; I just want my business dealt with.
Rudeness doesn’t happen much because I don’t allow power struggles to develop. If one did, I would hang up, call the same number, probably get another person, report the bad behavior, and move on.
I try to get names at the outset when there’s not yet any
difficulty.
If it works out, I say “Maeve, you’ve been fabulous,
thank you for making this work for me.” It may be recorded and she deserves the boost if she’s hung in.

cookieman's avatar

@knotmyday: I love this approach. WIll definitely try it.

@marina et al.: Usually when I’ve asked for a Supervisior, they’re just as rude. This behavior tends to roll down hill, as it were (especially at the RMV)

Thanks to all for the feedback. Fluther on.

scamp's avatar

When I am the caller, I ask for the name of the person I am speaking to at the beginning of the conversation so I have it handy if things go downhill. If it seems like they aren’t going to cooperate, I let them know that I am holding them personally responsible for the outcome of my request, and I will let their supervisor know, good or bad. That seems to help in some instances. If the person I am speaking to is not doing a good job, they perk up a little, and if they are, they are happy to know they will get a good report.

When I am on the receiving end of a complaint call. I remain as calm as I can, let the person know that I understand their anger, but I want to resolve the issue. I have been know to tell a client, that I will help them, but the longer they complain, the longer it will take to resolve the issue. If they are too rude, and use foul language, I tell them that if they continue in that manner I will end the call. I don’t get paid enough to suffer that type of abuse.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

kill em with kindness

chelseaaanicole's avatar

Hahaha, yeah it tends to piss people off even more.
(:
I love it.

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