Angry people are different

AngrycurveAngry people are different from other people. They are not just an inch or two along some curve. Instead, there’s a gap in the curve, a vertical chasm, separating the angry from everyone else.

You may encounter angry prospects (angry before you even got there) or angry customers or angry regulators or even angry employees. They’re similar to each other but different from the rest of us.

It’s tempting to treat an angry person just like a typical person, just… angrier. This is probably a mistake, because anger brings its own reality along with it. An angry customer isn’t just a little less valuable than a non-angry customer. In fact, she’s on a curve all her own.

I have two suggestions for dealing with angry folks:

  1. Sometimes, you can just avoid them. You can choose not to work with angry people. Just move on. There are plenty of non-angry people out there.
  2. You can acknowledge the anger and understand that until you make the anger go away, all responses are going to be off the charts and completely useless to you. The opportunity in working with an angry person is that you can somehow turn that angry person into a non-angry one… and from there, move them up the curve to a relationship you both value. The mistake marketers make all the time is that we believe that moving the person up the curve is the next step. It’s not. No one moves while they’re angry.

"I’m never coming back to this restaurant again!" is angry.
"Our special next week is lasagna…" isn’t going to do the trick as a response.

"I’m angry that my candidate didn’t win the primary,"
so, "Consider my health plan," isn’t going to work.

"You cancelled my flight!" is angry, thus…
"That’s our policy sir, read the ticket," is obviously a lousy marketing ploy.