An important skill to master in real estate, as in life, is dealing with another person’s anger. Angry clients are a fact of life. Sometimes they’re angry for a legitimate reason. Perhaps you were late for a meeting, made a mistake on paperwork or any of myriad things that can go wrong in handling a listing. Or maybe the client is having a bad day, and you become the target of their frustration simply because you were the first person they spoke to on that bad day.

There’s an old adage: “People are never angry for the reasons you think they are.” Which is another way of saying, don’t take a client’s anger personally.

Of course, an angry client can be particularly challenging if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t feel comfortable in the face of another person’s anger.

But the reality is, you can’t avoid angry clients (or spouses, or children or the person behind you at a traffic light who is leaning on the horn). Which means you’ll need to work on your relational skills, to learn how to diffuse a situation with an angry client.

Here are a few tips to help you in this process:

  1. Put your listening skills to work: The most important thing you can do to defuse a situation with an angry client is to listen. You need to hear what they have to say, or maybe just to let them vent. Be caring an understanding. Play back what you have hears so they feel as if someone is listening. Sometimes an angry person just feel as they need to be heard. And validated.
  2. Practice empathy: The most effective way to diffuse a situation with an angry client is to ensure that the client feels valued and understood. The first step is to listen. But you may need to go deeper. As their listing agent, try your best to understand what that person might be going through. What emotions are they dealing with? Why are theyt selling Perhaps their decision to sell is health-related? Or perhaps they are going through a financial crisis? Or maybe a job transfer is taking them away from the neighborhood where they’ve been raising their family? While selling a home (especially in a seller’s market) can be exciting and rewarding, it can also be traumatic and emotionally-draining for any number of reasons. If you can appreciate where they are coming from, and know that anger is often about fear, you’ll go a long way to diffusing the situation and creating a stronger bond with your client.
  3. Ask insightful, intelligent Don’t let someone’s anger or negativity dominate the situation. By trouble-shooting with intelligent questions, you can set the table for a mutually-beneficial partnership. What motivates them? Why are they moving? What are their dreams and aspirations? Effective questioning reveals that you have an interest in their goals, which can go a long way to building trust.
  4. Make sure you execute flawlessly. One of the best, and simplest, ways to minimize the chance of having an angry client is to do everything you promise, when you promised it. Arrive on time or early for every meeting. Make sure your listing presentation is well-thought-out and easy to understand. Return phone calls as quickly as possible. Make sure signs are up when promised, and that paperwork is in order and timely. In other words, the best way to establish a positive relationship (and minimize the opportunity for anger to take root) is by always exceeding your clients’ expectations.

The reality is, even if you follow these tips, you’re going to have face angry clients with whom you’ll have to work extra hard to build and maintain a positive relationship. After all, we’re all human, and anger is part of the human condition. You might even have situations where nothing you say can change someone’s attitude. If so, you might need to walk away, to cut your emotional ties for the benefit of both parties.