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.


NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require a password.

Tips for Dealing With Difficult People

Tips & Strategies for Working with Difficult Customers

How to Deal With a Difficult (or Angry) Customer: 16 Tips (HubSpot, Dec. 9, 2020)

10 Powerful Steps to Defuse Angry Customers (Business Know-How, Sep. 11, 2020)

How to Deal With Difficult Clients during Lockdown (Wrike, Apr. 22, 2020)

6 Types of Difficult Clients Every Business has to Work with (and How to Handle Them) (ROI Online, Apr. 14, 2020)

How to Deal with Difficult Customers (Program On Negotiation, Harvard Law School, Mar. 18, 2020)

How to Deal with a Difficult (or Angry) Customer: 16 Tips (HubSpot, Feb. 28, 2020)

Communication Tips: How to Manage Difficult Customers (Business Blogs, Mar. 4, 2020)

How to Handle Difficult People (and Still Achieve Your Business Goals) (Forbes, Aug. 21, 2019)

4 Things You Should Do to Deal with Difficult Customers without Losing Your Cool (Inc., Jun. 29, 2019)

Why Angry Customers are Actually Great for Business (vCita, Jun. 6, 2019)

Managing Client Expectations

4 Steps to Follow for Successful Client Management (The Blueprint, Apr. 2, 2020)

Expectation Management: The Art of Under-Promise and Over-Deliver (Clarizen, Mar. 10, 2020)

No Surprises! How 2 Top Agents Set Client Expectations from Day One (HomeLight, Mar. 4, 2020)

How to Set Personal Boundaries in Your Small Business (The Balance, Feb. 3, 2020)

10 Tactics for Managing New Clients’ Expectations Early in a Business Relationship (Small Business Trends, Jan. 23, 2020)

How to Manage Client Expectations (Real Estate Express, Aug. 19, 2019)

How to Manage Buyer Expectations (Boston Real Estate Class, Jul. 1, 2019)

Managing Your Client’s Expectations More Effectively (RISMedia, Oct. 22, 2019)

Stress Management for Buyers and Sellers

Three Ways to Manage Your Home-Buying Anxiety (Forbes, Feb. 11, 2020)

5 Tips for Alleviating Clients’ Stress (REALTOR® Magazine, Feb. 7, 2020)

Homebuying During a Pandemic: ‘We Felt Like We Were Racing the Virus’ (Curbed, Apr. 7, 2020)

Faced with Uncertainty, Home Buyers Seek Coronavirus Clauses in Contracts (Barron’s, Mar. 24, 2020)

Agents, It’s Time to Be the Leaders You Claim to Be (HousingWire, Mar. 13, 2020)

Three Ways to Manage Your Home-Buying Anxiety (Forbes, Feb. 11, 2020)

Stress M​anagement for REALTORS®

How to Make Real Estate Less Stressful (Smart Agents, Aug. 13, 2020)

How to Ease Stress during the Coronavirus Pandemic (Consumer Reports, Apr. 23, 2020)

How Team Leaders Model Resilience in the Face of COVID-19 (Chicago Agent, Apr. 14, 2020)

Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely (MIT Sloan Management Review, Mar. 31, 2020)

5 Ways to Manage Stress during the Coronavirus Outbreak (Cleveland Clinic, Mar. 19, 2020)

How to Stay in Control When Your Job is Stressful (U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 21, 2020)

Positive Psychology Strategies for Keeping Stress at Bay through the Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis (Thrive Global, Apr. 1, 2020)

5 2-Minute Habits That Can Help Lower Your Stress, Stat (Livestrong, Mar. 27, 2020)

COVID-19 Anxieties: Six Tips to Avoid Stress Eating When Social Distancing (PR Newswire, Mar. 26, 2020) E

Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Outbreak? Here’s How to Feel More Focused and Energized and Manage Stress (Forbes, Mar. 14, 2020)

Parting Ways with Difficult Customers

Closing Doors: When You Know It’s Time To Fire A Client (Forbes, Jun. 19, 2020)

10 Ways to Respectfully 'Break Up' with a Client (Forbes, Mar. 26, 2020)

Why You Should Fire Your Difficult Client (HousingWire, Feb. 7, 2020)

3 Ways to Break Up With a Bad Client (RISMedia, Jan. 9, 2020)

When Firing Your Clients is a Good Idea (Life Outside, Nov. 17, 2019)

10 Ways to Respectfully 'Break Up' With a Client (Forbes, Mar. 26, 2020)

Your Stress-Free Guide to Getting Rid of Toxic Customers (360 Payments, Jan. 17, 2020)

How to Gracefully Fire a Client as a Real Estate Agent (Better Buyer Savvy Seller, Sep. 18, 2019)

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.

Customer Relations Resources — Courses, articles, webinars and much more from SCORE.

eBooks & O​ther Resources

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

How to Deal with Difficult Customers (eBook, Kindle)

Hug Your Haters (eBook, Kindle)

Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People (eBook, Kindle)

Winning with the Customer from Hell (eBook)

Dealing with Difficult People: 24 Lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone (eBook, Kindle)

The Customer Service Survival Kit (eBook, Kindle)

Advanced Facilitation Strategies: Tools & Techniques to Master Difficult Situations (eBook)

Conversations for Change: 12 Ways to Say It Right When It Matters Most (eBook, Kindle)

Coping With Difficult People in Business and in Life (Audiobook)

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

How People Tick: A Guide to Over 50 Types of Difficult People and How to Handle Them (eBook, Kindle)

Perfect Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People (eBook, Kindle)

Working with Difficult People (Kindle, eBook)

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The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.