Handling Difficult Clients
As someone who serves the public and various clients, you may find that not everyone has an ideal attitude. Especially when dealing with sensitive signings like wills, affidavits for divorce or child protection, or caretaking affidavits for parental care. While handling difficult clients in any profession is expected, It’s possible that as a Notary, you might get stuck in the crossfire of misguided frustration. If that happens, here are some ways that you can diffuse a heated or escalating situation.
5 tips on Handling Difficult Clients
1. Don’t Take it Personally
When we take things personally, we tend to react instead of rationalizing the situation. If you are aware of the warning signs that a person is becoming frustrated and the conversation is about to go sideways, you can better handle it. Start with remembering that this isn’t about you. The signer is upset about things that you cannot control and that have nothing to do with you. Your role in the situation is to witness the signing of a document and verify the signer’s identity.
2. Don’t Get Drawn into the Unpleasantries
If the client arrives and is complaining or talking ill about a family member or their ex-spouse, it’s best not to add fuel to the fire. Keep things casual and neutral. You risk perpetuating an uncomfortable discussion if you start taking sides or adding your opinions.
3. Try a Little Humor
If you’ve got a knack for easing situations with humour, now’s the time to try and distract your client with a little. Try keeping the conversation light and to the point. Focus on why the signer is there and quickly get things done.
4. Offer Empathy but Set a Solid Boundary
It’s okay to acknowledge how someone feels without encouraging wrong behavior. Although you can’t control someone’s actions, you can offer an ear and some understanding. Your goal is to remain professional, though, so try and balance empathy with completing the task at hand. Something along the lines of, “I hear you, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.
Hopefully, today will help speed things along so that you can find some peace. I have another 10 minutes, and then I’m off to my next appointment. Is there anything else I can help you with?” A statement like that offers a bit of support without opening up the conversation for further escalation and sets a boundary on your time.
5. Remember to Breathe
Sometimes others can become so angry that we can’t help but feel frustrated or angry ourselves. Before you react, take a few deep breaths. Remember that it’s harder to take back what we say than to take a few breaths and consider if what we want to say needs to be said. Your goal is to stay calm and do your best to keep the meeting brief.
Handling Difficult Clients Final Resort: You Can Always Walk Away
If you feel your diffusing tactics aren’t working and the client is beyond calming, you can refuse service. There are some caveats to this, but you could argue that the signee wasn’t in the right state to sign the documents. Your safety matters, and if you feel threatened or like the situation is out of your control, it’s best to stay safe and remove yourself from the situation.
Thankfully (and hopefully), you won’t often face irate clients, but there are situations where emotions are high, and some people will take their frustrations out on whoever is around to listen. If you feel like you can use some of the tips above to de-escalate the situation, great.
If not, consider ending the session and either rescheduling or referring the client to find another Notary. It can be difficult handling stressful situations but remember why you are there and aim to keep the signing brief and topics of conversation about the service performed.
Bonus Tip: At times, family can be a challenge to do notarizations, and it is more complicated, because you are related. Read our article on notarizing for relatives for more insight on this matter.
For more Notary Public tips and information, visit nationalparalegalnotary.com/blog for more.