Prior to coming to the company I work for now, I worked in the crisis care center for an EAP company. This is one of the biggest lesson’s I learned from my client’s while working there.
In my line of work people almost never call me to say that they are having a good day. For me when someone is particularly difficult to deal with I know it’s not just because they are being a jerk but mostly it’s because they are dealing with something that is pretty heavy.
I always relax a bit when someone is extra difficult because something will often be revealed to me that shows just how hard their struggle is. My black heart has hardened a bit as a survival mechanism. I hear it all and in order to get through my day, have to create a bit of distance. However from time to time something’s get me. It hits me hard.
After struggling through a particularly difficult call with such a client. He shares with me that he needs support with a counselor to help with a family matter. He fights with me on almost everything. He’s gruff and short. Yet at the end he thanks me for being so patient with him and how thankful he was that I was there to get him the support he needed.
He then asks me to do one personal thing for him at the end. He says, “Go hug your mom this weekend for me because I won’t be able to hug mine”.
My calm, patient, perfectly professional voice cracks a bit at that point. I will. I promise. Take good care. The tears are instantaneous at the same time I release the call.
This particularly difficult client taught me to take a step back when people are difficult. Instead of pushing back I listen because you never know what might be going on for them.