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

What's a Verbal Softener?


Verbal softeners are phrases and words like "sometimes", "it could be", "perhaps" and so on that state things in a more ambiguous and less harsh way. They fall into the family of techniques that we call cooperative communication techniques, and are used both to prevent escalation and to defuse emotional situations.

From "Perfect Phrases For Customer Service":

People don’t respond well to language that sounds absolute,authoritarian, or harsh.For example,“We never make those kindsof mistakes” is very categorical and likely to antagonize evenmild-mannered customers. Here’s another way to put it: “It’sunlikely we’ve made a mistake.” The word “unlikely” is a verbal softener. Other softeners include “perhaps,” “sometimes,” “it’s possible,” and “occasionally.”
Here’s another example for a situation where the employee believes the customer has made a mistake.You could say,“Clearly,you’ve made a mistake.”That would be bad.You could soften the sentence by saying, “Perhaps you’ve misinterpreted something here.”“Perhaps” is the softener, but notice we’ve also replaced the word “mistake” with “misinterpreted,” a less harsh word.
Verbal softeners are valuable tools in helping you appear more cooperative and likable to customers and to prevent conflict.

For more on cooperative language techniques see:  What Is Cooperative Communication?

Search Our Site:

Most popular FAQs RSS

  1. Customer Needs/Wants/Customer Expectations - What's The Difference (117802 views)
  2. What To Do When You Don't Have An Answer ... (67495 views)
  3. When Does Customer Behavior Cross the Line To Verbal ... (57305 views)
  4. Can I view the complete table of contents before ... (52005 views)
  5. What Is Hostile and Abusive Customer Behavior? (51943 views)
  6. Should I Ever Hang Up On A Customer? (49290 views)
  7. How to handle a customer who interrupts my conversation ... (47763 views)
  8. How Can I Be Notified Of Updates To angrycustomer.org? ... (46601 views)
  9. Which of your customer service books would be best ... (44927 views)
  10. How To Build Rapport During The Customer Greeting? (43199 views)

Latest FAQs RSS

  1. I'm a manager and often have to deal with ... ()
  2. I want to fire a customer who is very ... ()
  3. Are My Peers (the people I work with) Internal ... ()
  4. Why do some customers stay angry even after I've ... ()
  5. Should I Ever Hang Up On A Customer? ()

Sticky FAQs