Working With Difficult Customers


Do you feel that you have to work with all clients, no matter how difficult they are? They may be more trouble than they're worth. Find out how to manage expectations, deal with difficult clients, and how to fire them. Also learn about the effects of workplace stress and what you can do to manage it.


We've already done the research for you.

Before you search elsewhere, take advantage of the research we've already done for you. Formerly known as Field Guides, References tabs contain links to external articles, titles from the NAR Library eBooks collection, websites, statistics, and other material to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives on each topic. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require a password.

Ten Tips for Dealing With Difficult People

  1. Maintain self-control
  2. Ask non-threatening questions
  3. Listen to the customer's reason for being difficult
  4. Acknowledge the problem
  5. Don't argue
  6. Apologize
  7. Offer to rectify the situation
  8. Continue to act professionally
  9. Analyze what caused the client's behavior
  10. Set limits on what you will tolerate

Managing Client Expectations

How to Manage Your Real Estate Clients’ Expectations, (Global Real Estate Licence, Mar. 14, 2017).

5 Big Communication Blunders to Stop Making, (REALTOR® Magazine, Dec. 19, 2016).

How To Set Expectations With Clients, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2016).

Managing Expectations Like a Pro, (James Archer, June 2015).

5 Questions Every Agent Should Ask a New Real Estate Client, (Placester, Dec. 18, 2012).

Handling Difficult​ Customers

7 Perfect Replies to (Politely) Shut Down Negative People, (The Muse, 2017).

Brokerage Reminder: Agents beware – 5 signs of a difficult client, (FirstTuesday Journal, May 20, 2015).

Listening v Hearing: How to Diffuse Angry Customers, (Business 2 Community, Sept. 16, 2014).

Why You Need a 'Calmer' at Home Inspections, (REALTOR® Magazine, March 2014).

Help Emotional Clients Keep Their Cool, (REALTOR® Magazine, Sept. 2008).

Stress M​anagement

10 New Strategies for Stress Management, (Psychology Today, Jan. 19, 2017).

Coping with Stress at Work, (American Psychological Association, 2016).

Stress Management - Ways to Relieve Stress, (WebMD, Nov. 14, 2014).

13 Foods That Fight Stress, (Prevention Magazine, May 22, 2014).

15 Stress Management Techniques That Work Well … and Fast, (Be Brain Fit, n.d.).

How to Fire​ Your Difficult Customers

How to Fire Your Agent or Client, (The Balance, Feb. 28, 2017).

When is it OK to Let a Real Estate Client Go?, (Follow Up Boss, Mar. 28, 2016).

How to fire a client, (ActiveRain, Aug. 3, 2009).

How to Fire a Monster Client: The Steps, (Michael Hyatt, n.d.).

3 Painless Scripts to Free Yourself of Problem Clients, (Nick Reese, n.d.).

Useful We​bsites

Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual — National Association of REALTORS®.

Safety - Helping NAR members understand the risks they face through knowledge, awareness, and empowerment.

HelpGuide — A trusted non-profit guide to mental health and well-being.

The American Institute of Stress — The mission of AIS is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence of stress management in education, research, clinical care and the workplace.

MindTools — Learn the leadership, management and personal effectiveness skills you need for a happy, successful career.

Active Rain — ActiveRain is a community of real estate professionals who exchange ideas to grow their business. It provides a way for agents and other real estate industry contributors to connect, share, and learn.

eBooks & O​ther Resources

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

151 Quick Ideas to Deal with Difficult People (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Advanced facilitation strategies: Tools & techniques to master difficult situations (Adobe eReader)

The complete idiot's guide to coping with difficult people (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Conversations for change: 12 ways to say it right when it matters most (Adobe eReader)

Coping With Difficult People In Business and In Life (OverDrive WMA Audiobook)

Dealing with difficult people: 24 lessons for bringing out the best in everyone (Adobe eReader)

De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less (OverDrive WMA Audiobook)

Getting them to see it your way: Dealing with difficult and challenging people (Adobe eReader)

How people tick: A guide to over 50 types of difficult people and how to handle them (Adobe eReader)

Make Difficult People Disappear, (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Perfect phrases for dealing with difficult people (Adobe eReader)

Who's your Gladys? How to turn even the most difficult customer into your biggest fan (Adobe eReader)

Working with difficult people (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

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