Complete Guide To Dealing WIth Difficult, Angry, Aggressive And  Abusive Customers

Learn what to say, when to say it and stay stress free, safe, and professional under pressure

Is There A Difference Between An Angry Customer and A Hostile One?


Yes, there is. And, it's an important difference since you will choose to manage an angry customer in a different way than a hostile one.

Anger is a human emotion, and we all experience it. You can't eliminate it in others, and often, provided the customer isn't "acting out", or being attacking in a personal way, you let it run its course. The problem you might face isn't anger, but how the customer chooses to express the anger.

Hostile Customer Behavior From Customers Is Different

Here's a short excerpt from

If It Wasn't For The Customers I'd Really Like This Job: Stop Angry, Hostile Customers COLD While Remaining Professional, Stress Free, Efficient and Cool As A Cucumber

There is a difference between reasonable expressions of anger (angry behavior) which is short lived and not aimed at you personally, and unacceptable behavior that we call hostile or abusive behavior. Not only are they different, but we may choose to handle these two different situations in different ways.

Hostile and abusive is intended, consciously or unconsciously, to have some or all of the following effects:

  • Put you off balance
  • Manipulate and control you
  • Demean you in some way
  • Cause you to feel guilty
  • Cause you to experience other negative emotions
  • Intimidate you


It’s this kind of behavior that causes the greatest amount of stress for people who serve customers, because it involves ranting, insulting, and using intimidation tactics. Abusive behavior, because of the intent to elicit a reaction, involves  pushing the buttons of customer service staff, making it more likely they will do something to makes the situation worse, not better.

While you may tolerate some degree of angry behavior without being concerned, hostile and abusive is something you do not want to accept. The primary goal, with abusive situations, is to cause the abusive behavior to stop. Once that occurs then you can work to reduce the angry feelings of the customer, and address his or her problem. You cannot help a person who is acting out or being abusive. It’s virtually impossible. So, first stop the bad behavior (and we’ll teach you how).

There are different “containers for abusive and hostile behavior, starting with verbal abuse.

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