Recently, we published an article on “5 Easy Steps to Win Over an Angry Patient on the Phone.” In that article, we shared the steps to complete a call from an angry patient successfully. Notably, we only talked about what you can do during the call.
But what happens when you get off the phone and you feel hurt, exhausted, or possibly angry by the intense negative emotions you received from the caller? You have more patients to help and other tasks in your day that you need to complete so quick recovery from such a situation is important.
In this article, we are going to share some tips that we give our staff members when they get off of the phone with a particularly angry caller whose outburst affects them emotionally to the extent that they feel they can’t take another call. These tips have helped them recover quickly, allowing them to answer more phone calls with a positive attitude in a fairly short amount of time. We hope that they help you, as well!
What is Anger?
Before telling you what you can do to overcome the emotional effects of the negative phone call you just had, it is really important to understand what anger is. The American Psychological Association (ASA) offers the following definition of anger:
Anger is a negative feeling state that is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal, and maladaptive behaviors. It usually develops in response to the unwanted actions of another person who is perceived to be disrespectful, demeaning, threatening or neglectful.
Anger is very natural and “alerts us when something has violated the natural order how we think things should go” and can be seen as a “violation of expectation and blockage of goals.”
In the example we provided in the previous article, the patient was calling because he was angry that his prescription, which he believed had been called into the pharmacy on Friday, was not filled by his pharmacy because they had not received the order. Thus, he was angry because the expectation that his prescription was going to be filled had not been met.
On the flip side, he directing his anger at you and accusing you of being the person who denied him his medication over the weekend.
Though we told you in step one of the previous article to remain calm and not take it personally, it can be very hard to do so when someone is yelling at you, especially when it wasn’t your fault. While it’s easy to say, “don’t take it personally,” and “let it go,” it can actually be very hard to do so when it is happening to you and it can affect your work later on.
Mark Thomas notes in his article entitled “Costs and Benefits of Anger in the Workplace” that “those who are on the receiving end of emotional storm can experience physical and emotional effects similar to those felt by the angered person.”
He continues to say that “the target can have more powerful anger than the angered individual.” Therefore, it is completely natural that after receiving a phone call from an angry patient, you would feel extremely angry, too.
What To Do With Your Anger
Now that we have established that you are experiencing feelings of anger after handling that phone call, it’s time to find out what you can do to help you alleviate your feelings and have a great rest of the day. Here are 5 Tips we give our staff at Access Answering Service on how to recover from a particularly angry call:
- Step back and take a few deep breaths.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and angry, it is not a good idea to take another call immediately after. Let a colleague answer the phone while you take a moment to collect yourself.
- Step outside for a few minutes. Do you need more than just a few breaths? We recommend that our team members go outside, take a walk, and enjoy the fresh air before coming back in. Just being outside can help alleviate your anger.
Doing an anger meditation can really help bring your blood pressure down. I enjoy listening to guided mediations at Meditation Oasis led by Mary Maddux, which you can find online at http://www.meditationoasis.com/ .
- Use affirmations.
John Assaraf, coach and author of “The Answer” recommends using affirmations to help you shift your mindset. It is recommended to create your own affirmations that speak to you and you can use affirmations along the lines of, “I am an amazing healer” or “I am great at helping people get what they need.”
- Remember your Vision.
For Christmas, we had a Vision party in our office during which every staff member had an opportunity to create a vision board that was hung in the office. By doing that, every time they entered our office, or someone was particularly angry with them on the telephone, they are reminded of what they want in their lives and that every day they come to work and help our clients and their callers, they are getting closer and closer to achieving those goals.
If you’d like more steps on how to calm down when you are angry, Hara Estroff Marano offers some great tips in her article, “The Downside of Anger” published by Psychology Today.
Please remember, it is very important that you take the time to recover from an angry caller. It is much easier to help others when you take care of yourself mentally and physically.