View Full Version : How to handle snobby/rude/condescending people over the phone?


BellaVita
11-14-16, 09:02 PM
(I've started this thread so that I don't derail my own other thread - the one about my anxiety problems dealing with drowning in my to-dos)

I had to make several important phone calls today. I will have to make another one tomorrow.

There were two people, especially one person in particular, who was snobby towards me and made some snide/condescending comments.

I am a VERY sensitive girl - like, even when I was little I'd cry if a teacher used a tone of voice that scared me.

Phone calls make me incredibly anxious as it is, I have to write down scripts and questions in advance and I feel very under pressure and unsure of what to say, but dealing with a snobby/rude/condescending person makes it all so much worse.

It's been some time after I finished the calls, and I still feel like crying.

How do I handle people over the phone who are not nice? People who talk down to me/say condescending things?

It makes me want to quit trying to get something done, and not even bother calling. But that's not an option - these calls are important.

These people make me doubt myself and my abilities, I'm already not sure what I'm doing and just doing the best I can, they make me feel bad.

I think a part (not all) of it is - I was trained to be sensitive to this early on - because I was often manipulated/put down by my parents, and so I took everything they said seriously, because I had to focus on keeping myself safe. I'm safe now and don't need to worry that these people will end up doing something bad to me. How do I not take condescending comments they say too seriously?

I feel so drained and like crying and shutting myself off from the world. I need advice and tips on how to handle these types of people/not take things so personally/not be so sensitive to their remarks.

Please help me guys. :(

Little Missy
11-14-16, 09:44 PM
When the person I'm speaking with begins to get 'that tone' or is not actually helping me in any way I take a big breath and ask to speak to their superior, please.

I have also reminded them that I am (also if they are) recording my call to them for my own record. You'd be surprised at how helpful they or their superior can become after that. I do not record them, I just get a little leverage this way. If you do have a way to record them, by all means do. I do not, so it is a little leverage fib I pull sometimes.

Even if I am able to get the upper hand or even the help I needed without really asserting myself, I still ruminate for days afterward. It always seems as even if I am as thorough and in as charge as I can be, somehow there is always something missing.

Honestly, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. But being polite and thankful does help even when going over someone's head.

Greyhound1
11-14-16, 09:48 PM
First thing Bella, you must realize that they are the one with a problem. They don't even know you. There are lots of bitter, mean, unhappy, insensitive, just having a bad day people out there.

I have the same problem except it makes me mad. Usually, I hang up the phone and ruminate what a jerk they were. Usually, thinking of the perfect come back, I should have said. Once, I settle down, I remind myself it's their problem and not mine.

They are just someone's stupid words and I ask myself if they will effect my life. If not, then I can let it go.

I hope you can learn how to stand up for yourself when necessary and not take rude people's comments to heart. Their comments are just a reflection of them and they are just rude and that's the way they are. I am sure they treat other people the same way.

Please don't cry over their stupid words.:grouphug:

namazu
11-14-16, 10:25 PM
Some things I have found helpful:

1. Write down the person's name.

2. Ask in advance for them to please be patient because [you're stressed, you have a disability and might need them to repeat things, etc.].

3. Consider that the person on the phone -- even if they're a customer service person who's supposed to be helpful and polite and patient as part of their job -- may be having a crappy day. Maybe even crappier than yours.

If they sound impatient, frustrated, terse -- it may not be you; it may be that they are feeling awful, or their kid or partner or parent is sick, or their car broke down, or their boss is a jerk who just yelled at them to make calls faster, or they were just diagnosed with some health problem, or...

Make up a sympathetic story about the person on the other end of the line. (Heck, you could pull up a photo of a frazzled call center staffer on your computer and pretend that's who you're talking to. And you can make up a sob story for them in advance.) Pretending that you're talking to someone who's as stressed out as you are can make it easier to not take things personally, and it may also provide a way for you to stay calmer/more collected on the phone. Being extra polite/gentle to the other person -- whether or not they "deserve" it -- can also help you modulate your own feelings.

4. If it goes beyond tone of voice or impatience or irritation into explicitly discriminatory statements, direct insults, etc., and you're feeling too flustered to deal with it right then, write down what they said. And then, when you hang up, consider sending a letter or e-mail to someone in a position of authority to let them know about your experience (including the time of the call, the name of the person you spoke with, and the offending statement).

It won't necessarily make the comments sting less, but at that point, you can be assured that the other person is out of line, which doesn't reflect on you. You may also be helping other people avoid having a rotten experience by reporting what happened to people who have the power to re-train and/or hire/fire customer service people.

5. Breathe!

Good luck! You got this!

Simargl
11-14-16, 10:32 PM
I've spent a lot of time on both ends of the line. I've had a couple of jobs doing tech support and my current job has me making occasional calls. I'm not sure if this is someone you're dealing with on a personal or professional level though.

It's crazy how many people won't take a woman doing tech support seriously. I had to learn how to take control of the call.

It's okay to start the call with a casual open: "How's your day going?" Etc.. That human connection can soften someone that's been taking calls all day. It reminds them that you see -them- as a person and that -you- are a person.

But after that get to the task and try not to let them stray off the course.

My normal tone of voice changes when I'm controlling a call. It's not harsh-- just confident. I'm still nice but the person on the other end knows that there's work to do-- let's get it done, please.

I don't feed rudeness. I keep my tone steady. It's rare when being rude back will make the situation better. I've had people screaming at the start of a call and joking with me at the end- mostly because I kept my cool and that calm can be contagious.

I guess one thing to keep in mind -- it's not personal. It's not you. You might be dealing with someone who's had the worst day ever. It's possible they were just screamed at and now they're on edge. They might just be a nasty irritable person who needs a new job. They might think they're the nicest person ever and they're oblivious to their tone.

ToneTone
11-14-16, 11:39 PM
I'm sorry to hear that these folks got under your skin today, especially when they're giving me some dumb rule that I already know about and that doesn't apply to me.

One thing to try to remember/focus on is these people talk the way they talk TO EVERYONE in your situation. Their tone is more about them than it is about you.

I sometimes foolishly try to get condescending in return ... or combative ... But I do that less and less because I get more upset and heart starts racing.

I sometimes play the thankful customer. "I really appreciate that you did this. Thank you SO MUCH!" ... This would be so helpful. I know. I have to do a better job ..." Some of these folks LOVE praise of any kind and you can shut them up with some loud "thank you's." When I'm doing this, what allows me to put up with their tone is that I think of myself as in control ... because I'm fooling this person by pretending to be nice.

Sometimes I just remind myself that I have a goal with the phone call and having this particular person talk to me in a particular way isn't my goal. My goal is to get X done or X accomplished and if I have to put up with a few minutes of nonsense, that's OK ...

Depending on the office you're calling, it might be worth it to hang up when you hear that tone that gets under your skin and call back and reach someone new. There are huge differences in attitudes, I've found, between one customer servie rep and another. I get a jerk and then everyone is going to be a jerk. Then I call back and get someone really sharp and helpful.

Funny: growing up, my father would just put up with these kinds of calls, focusing on his goal. On the other hand, my mother would pull the phone away from her ear and roll her eyes and shake her head before putting the phone back to her ear and saying, "yes" in a polite voice.

Good luck.

Tone

sarahsweets
11-15-16, 04:31 AM
(I've started this thread so that I don't derail my own other thread - the one about my anxiety problems dealing with drowning in my to-dos)

I had to make several important phone calls today. I will have to make another one tomorrow.

There were two people, especially one person in particular, who was snobby towards me and made some snide/condescending comments.

I am a VERY sensitive girl - like, even when I was little I'd cry if a teacher used a tone of voice that scared me.

Phone calls make me incredibly anxious as it is, I have to write down scripts and questions in advance and I feel very under pressure and unsure of what to say, but dealing with a snobby/rude/condescending person makes it all so much worse.

It's been some time after I finished the calls, and I still feel like crying.

How do I handle people over the phone who are not nice? People who talk down to me/say condescending things?

It makes me want to quit trying to get something done, and not even bother calling. But that's not an option - these calls are important.

These people make me doubt myself and my abilities, I'm already not sure what I'm doing and just doing the best I can, they make me feel bad.

I think a part (not all) of it is - I was trained to be sensitive to this early on - because I was often manipulated/put down by my parents, and so I took everything they said seriously, because I had to focus on keeping myself safe. I'm safe now and don't need to worry that these people will end up doing something bad to me. How do I not take condescending comments they say too seriously?

I feel so drained and like crying and shutting myself off from the world. I need advice and tips on how to handle these types of people/not take things so personally/not be so sensitive to their remarks.

Please help me guys. :(

Tell them to f**k off.
(like how I quoted myself there?)
You know how in most situations that the above would be my go-to. But A- I know its not your style and B- if it doesnt actually help you get from point a to point b then its not worth it. I would tell you to say something like that if it would give you satisfaction and if you never had to deal with them again but that doesnt sound like the case.

My question though is, did you get what you wanted out of the call? Like if you needed help, direction or info, did you get that despite the snotty talk?
If so, chalk it up to them being ****oles and not YOU being 'too' sensitive.
If you didnt get what you needed thats a different situation.

Other people gave good tips. Humor is my armor and weapon so if at all possible I try to make light of something and almost always get a chuckle. And, as Namzu suggested I almost always say something like:
"I know this isnt your problem but I was hoping you could help me understand/figure out/solve xyz."
I have found that when people feel like they are personally helping you on a "personal" level vs just doing their job, they are more motivated to be human beings.
If nothing works, I usually flip it on them:
"I am hearing what you are saying but your tone/attitude/manner is really upsetting me. Is there someone else I can talk to about it or are you able to explain it in a different way?"
This IME disarms even the biggest Jerks.

BellaVita
11-15-16, 04:06 PM
I wasn't expecting such amazing replies, thank you everyone!!!

Lots of gold and wisdom there - I tried to rep each of you but for a few it said I had to "spread some reputation around."

I always am polite when I speak on the phone - I'm actually embarrassingly horrible at attempting to be snarky back - I don't even try - I just freeze up and stutter and try to hold back from crying.

:o

But seriously, reading over all of these thoughtful replies really helped give me the confidence to make the call today.

Thinking of it as a "goal" like someone mentioned, where I have to get done/find out x y z is something that is helping me. And remembering to sound thankful.

Each one of your posts helped me, to think about this in a different way.

The person I spoke to today was kind and helpful. Unfortunately there was something that delayed the process of what I'm calling about....so I have to call back again tomorrow.

I will keep re-reading these gems of posts to help me have the confidence to call again.

Seriously, wish I could print all of these or post them on a blog because the advice here is better than I'd find in a web search. :)

midnightstar
11-15-16, 04:14 PM
What I do if I'm speaking to someone on the phone who is being an arsehole is I imagine them talking in a stupid voice so instead of crying I'm trying to hold back the giggles, I then get off the phone as soon as I can so I can let the giggles out :) Works for me anyways :o

BellaVita
11-16-16, 04:31 PM
Had to speak with a few places today, the delay in processing is being caused by a stupid computer system issue.

Man, felt like forever, on the phone. I sure am drained. Due to the issues on their end, and the fact that they have to speak with other important people to get it working, I have to wait and call back Friday. And *maybe* it'll be okay then. (You know you've called a place a lot, when you start learning the names of the people who work there)

I tried to sound cheery yet confident. I made an effort to say "thank you" and "I really appreciate your help" whenever I could. (I hope I said it at right times)

One lady I had to speak to for a brief period of time was a "I'm having a bad day" sounding person, I tried not to take it too personally (okay, still hurt a little) and think of what the goal is. That I'm calling these people and have to hear their words but there is an end goal and this is just something I have to hear and listen to while things are getting worked on.

Honestly, this feels like the social equivalent of running a marathon. For me anyway.

I feel like I've spoken to enough people this week to last me for 5 years. It sucks being an adult and having a situation where I do have to make these calls. I've....never called so many people like this in my life. It's been really hard for me, like insanely hard.

So, I did do my best to take advice posted here. It did help, really. :)

Pilgrim
11-16-16, 05:43 PM
Yeah, don't take **** from anyone.nobodys better than you.

Uncomfortable call script it out. If you gotta bow and scrape, that's cool, everyone does.

I know the call won't last forever.

BellaVita
11-16-16, 05:55 PM
So I was so done with talking for the day....surprise! got a call from one of the places, a person I never spoke to.

Guess I had to experience (the worst of the day) the rude and unhelpful attitude just again, my day couldn't be complete without one more. :(

And now I'm left thinking ....umm what? Very unhelpful, she seemed to not even be trying to help or be kind. And like she tried to make me out to be stupid, when really there's no way I could know this stuff. And now I suddenly have lost my confidence and feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

Still will have to call back, but not today, I can't do it again today....especially after being left with that unhelpful crap where I don't even know how I'm supposed to interpret the info.

Help....I need a pick-me-up! What can I say to myself to get over this and not burst into tears?

Little Missy
11-16-16, 05:59 PM
Call back and find out exactly what you want and tell the person to quit messing with you. No more "please" and "Thank you" either.

Tell them they are working for you, not the other way around.:eyebrow:

Pilgrim
11-16-16, 06:22 PM
It's always a mission dealing with people who don't like doing what their paid to do.

Having something complicated to do, and someone just being, ' I don't care ',

I'm not polite back though, manners are a two way street.

BellaVita
11-16-16, 06:47 PM
Thanks guys, I can't do it. :( Can't handle any more phone calls right now. Especially can't handle another rude unhelpful person

Not today anyway. I'm not functioning well anymore after all that.

Little Missy
11-16-16, 07:12 PM
It's always a mission dealing with people who don't like doing what their paid to do.

Having something complicated to do, and someone just being, ' I don't care ',

I'm not polite back though, manners are a two way street.

and all they have to do is Push A Damned Button to get the information.

ginniebean
11-17-16, 02:10 AM
They smell blood bella. Your sensitivity.. Brings it out. Next time, have all written down .. Your requeats, your questions.. Be calm and do the best you can.

BellaVita
11-17-16, 09:55 PM
They smell blood bella. Your sensitivity.. Brings it out. Next time, have all written down .. Your requeats, your questions.. Be calm and do the best you can.

Thank you, I bet you are right.

I've been relying on pages of scripts and questions - it just catches me off-guard and I don't have a good script for when someone is rude to me.

BellaVita
11-17-16, 10:00 PM
Today I called and got one of the main people who was speaking to me originally about everything.

The computer system issue got fixed a day early.

You wouldn't believe how easy it was to talk to her compared to the rude person from yesterday - also it is clear to me that the rude person from yesterday didn't know what she was talking about. The stuff she told me was wrong info. I was surprised how easy the thing I was calling about was, since the rude lady from yesterday made it seem like some impossible thing and that I was stupid.

Feeling much better about it all.

Thank goodness for nice friendly people that are helpful. :)

ToneTone
11-17-16, 10:29 PM
So interesting. I was dealing with a medical bill a few weeks back and I called the hospital billing office and really didn't like the person.

Well they sent me the wrong bill again, and I was ticked off. I braced myself and made another call--ready for a fight ... ... and dang! Totally different person with a much better personality, who didn't pretend she knew everything, but she got exactly what I was complaining about.

I could almost here the difference in the person's voice in the first few seconds of talking. It's like my heart slowed down and I could feel my body relax--something about this second person's voice felt safe.

Anyway, great news. Thanks for sharing.

Tone

Simargl
11-18-16, 12:41 AM
Today I called and got one of the main people who was speaking to me originally about everything.

The computer system issue got fixed a day early.

You wouldn't believe how easy it was to talk to her compared to the rude person from yesterday - also it is clear to me that the rude person from yesterday didn't know what she was talking about. The stuff she told me was wrong info. I was surprised how easy the thing I was calling about was, since the rude lady from yesterday made it seem like some impossible thing and that I was stupid.

Feeling much better about it all.

Thank goodness for nice friendly people that are helpful. :)

I love this. (: I'm glad you got the help you needed.

This thread helped me realize that I get a little defensive when people talk about phone support.

I know there are a lot of people out there that aren't cut out for phone support. It takes a lot of patience, active listening and empathy. It's the kind of job that people burn out of quickly. Some techs take the knowledge that they've learned from the job for granted since they deal with the same issues again and again-- most call centers don't offer proper training. It's typically sink or swim when you're put out in the floor. That's not the way it should be but that's how it is..

Most call centers are stressful to work in and the companies could care less if you get fired or quit. They'll just bring in the next batch of noobs. I worked for a place for a while that seemed to be designed for a quick turn over. I stayed there for a year and was lucky enough to snag my current job.

Lloyd_
12-14-16, 05:53 PM
(I've started this thread so that I don't derail my own other thread - the one about my anxiety problems dealing with drowning in my to-dos)

I had to make several important phone calls today. I will have to make another one tomorrow.

There were two people, especially one person in particular, who was snobby towards me and made some snide/condescending comments.

I am a VERY sensitive girl - like, even when I was little I'd cry if a teacher used a tone of voice that scared me.

Phone calls make me incredibly anxious as it is, I have to write down scripts and questions in advance and I feel very under pressure and unsure of what to say, but dealing with a snobby/rude/condescending person makes it all so much worse.

It's been some time after I finished the calls, and I still feel like crying.

How do I handle people over the phone who are not nice? People who talk down to me/say condescending things?

It makes me want to quit trying to get something done, and not even bother calling. But that's not an option - these calls are important.

These people make me doubt myself and my abilities, I'm already not sure what I'm doing and just doing the best I can, they make me feel bad.

I think a part (not all) of it is - I was trained to be sensitive to this early on - because I was often manipulated/put down by my parents, and so I took everything they said seriously, because I had to focus on keeping myself safe. I'm safe now and don't need to worry that these people will end up doing something bad to me. How do I not take condescending comments they say too seriously?

I feel so drained and like crying and shutting myself off from the world. I need advice and tips on how to handle these types of people/not take things so personally/not be so sensitive to their remarks.

Please help me guys. :(

It's easier said than done but the one thing I'll tell you is when you try to force yourself to be less anxious is how you'll set yourself up for having a nasty panic attack, it becomes self fulfilling prophecy. I used to get it really bad and still sometimes do but it's manageable now.

Just be casual and upfront with the person if you're not sure what to say, I HATE talking to people on the phone but I did work at a call center for a little bit years ago so it helped me with the problem you're describing.

Normally with condescending people I would get so angry on the phone with them in those days but I learned that when you reply with some zingers to their snarky comments they usually back down and it gets to the point where now I just don't even respond to it....water on a duck's back if you know what I mean?

I presume you're still somewhat young and from your parent's abuse stunted your growth emotionally.

The good news is like with anything else you do more than a few times, it gets easier and the more self confident you become the less people will try to pick you apart.

You have to be tough as nails in this messed up world of ours, it surly is an unforgiving place and you might of started out as the runt of the litter but I promise you'll become the lioness of the pack if you believe in yourself and never let these ******** bring you down! :)

sarahsweets
12-16-16, 04:47 AM
I usually just shoot lasers out of my eyes and wound the cold heart of the person on the other end of the phone. ;)