Dealing With Angry Residents


Winning with people is at the heart of success. Whether or not you can resolve the angry resident’s issue the way they have asked or by company’s rules, you can leave the situation with trust and respect built on both sides.

Below you will find high level and actionable tips especially when you are in the heat of the moment with an angry resident.

Principle #1: We are all driven by the need for connection.

We all want to feel loved, valued, heard and noticed by someone. This feeling makes us feel great, where otherwise we will feel disconnected and become angry. When something goes wrong, the connection is broken. Your priority should be to restore the connection between the resident and the staff.

The customer is always right; is this always true? This belief does not help foster connection as it can create the attitude of “You. Owe. Me. Big. Time.” The residents do spend a lot of money within your community every month and this can create a sense of entitlement.

Your priority is not so much to solve the problem as much as restore the connection! This means listening to the resident, stating that you are sorry and thanking them for their feedback. Do not argue with the resident, no matter whether they are right or wrong. Neither fight nor flight works well. What does work is a step-by-step plan where you engage the resident and communicate effectively.

Principle #2 It Starts with YOU

You can’t change anyone because you do not have control over anyone else. The more you try to exert control over someone and change them, their behavior, etc., the more frustrated they will become and, in turn, so will you. Let the problem be the problem, and do not make the problem you.

Step 1: Take Care of You

You cannot pour from an empty cup, so take care of yourself first. Your body will tell you when it is time to take a break. You should listen and take the break to calm your own frustration. Ask yourself if you are HALT. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Step 2: Engage with Empathy

Empathy diffuses anger. Your words, body language, and demeanor should say, “I am here for you.” Stay in the moment and again remember, neither fight nor flight works well.

Step 3: Listen

It is very important to listen well and actively. Do not interrupt or defend anything until the customer has had his or her say. Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth closed. Many arguments have started or been made worse by someone not keeping quiet.

Step 4: Know the Story

The purpose of listening is so that you can learn the details of the story and what the resident needs or wants from you.

What is s/he angry about?
What does s/he want as a result of the conversation?
What will make it better?
What CAN you do?
What SHOULD you do?

Step Five: Acknowledge the Story

We all have those residents who demand and ask for far more than they deserve. This should not alter how you approach and acknowledge the situation, no matter how frustrated you are with them. Choose to acknowledge the resident using one of the phrases below:

I’m so sorry.
If I were in your position, I would feel the same way.
That would frustrate me, too.
I would come to the same conclusion.
You handled this better than I would.
I can definitely see where you’re coming from.
You might be right about that.

Phrases that are better NOT to use:

Calm down!
You shouldn’t
You should
I’m sorry you feel that way
If you read your lease
Everyone else

Step Six: Resolve the Problem and/or Restore Connection

A great phrase to use when restoring connection:

“We really do strive to provide great customer service and I am sorry that in your case we’ve fallen short! Thank you again for your patience and understanding. I appreciate it!”

This phrase acknowledges all parties without placing any blame.

“You don’t respond to someone’s emotions with words ; you respond with emotions.” – Neil Anderson

Presented by:

Rommel Anacan, President and Founder
The Relationship Difference