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dos and donts to deal with difficult patients


It is universally acknowledged that if your company provides a service then that company will depend upon people to acquire that service. Think of these people as the backbone of your practice. However, you know that as a service provider, you are bound to come across patients that are more difficult than others. This includes angry or unsatisfied patients, patients that can sometimes be demanding or talkative, and generally patients that will give you a hard time. This can cause stress and anxiety to both parties, and if handled the wrong way, can be fatal to those relationships you have worked so hard to develop, so here are some helpful tips to make handling these patients that much easier.


Don’t get angry.

  • In cases like these, you cannot fight fire with fire lest you create a bigger more out-of-control fire. You want to avoid being defensive and letting your emotions prevent you from making a rational decision.


Don’t take it personally

  • This patient is not angry at you; they are angry about the situation. Keep that in mind and avoid internalizing. Doing so will only strip you of the confidence and assertiveness you need to address the real problem.


Don’t say ‘I can’t’ or ‘there is nothing we can do’

  • Not only does this shut the customer down but these words only make them angrier. (There is always something that can be done even if it isn’t exactly what they want)


Don’t tell them to calm down.

  • Doing so only aggravates the situation and will even add a new level of frustration to the patient that could severely damage the relationship.


Don’t dismiss the anger/frustration

  • This only breaks the line of communication and will potentially make things a lot worse.


Do remain professional

  • The best thing you can do in situations such as these is stay Our rationality is born out of our ability to reason; allowing our emotions to overpower our decisions guarantees negative outcomes.


Do acknowledge the anger

  • Dealing with angry patients comes down to effective communication, and acknowledging the patient’s anger prevents a break in that line of communication as well as salvages that relationship. Let the patient vent until he or she can get the anger out of his or her system. Nothing is worse than permanently destroying a relationship by being impatient.


 Do be assertive but fair

  • In certain situations, a patient will try to take control, guiding the argument away from you. Take the control back by being assertive but fair. Instead of telling the patient there is nothing you can do for them, tell them what you can do for them and give them options they might not have thought of before; and most importantly, give them a reason to trust that you care about their needs first and that you will do anything to satisfy them.


Do exceed expectations

  • As a service provider you have to think outside the box when it comes to solving   problems and, the only way to do this effectively, is by asking questions and getting as much background information as possible before negotiating a solution. Be open. Be   honest. And be willing to compromise.


Do conduct a follow-up

  • The best way to keep a relationship with a difficult patient intact and blooming is to follow-up as soon as possible, following the negotiated resolution. Developing relationships, personal or otherwise, involves trust and, if a customer can trust that you genuinely care about them, they will return.


The most important thing to remember when it comes to the relationship between you and your patients is the use of effective communication and positivity. If a patient is upset, it is because there has been a service breakdown. They believe you have not met their needs. The key is to listen actively, ask questions, and identify the real problem beneath the anger and frustration. It is only when you are able to address the issue that the two of you can finally come to a fair resolution.