Dealing with difficult people is something almost every business owner encounters from time to time. For a landlord, it can be especially tricky because you could have ongoing problems with the same people for a long time.
It’s a good idea to learn the skills to handle these situations from the very beginning. Some skills are just common sense and some require a different way of thinking.
The first step to minimizing interactions with negative people in your business is to do everything you can to weed them out during your tenant search. For one thing, strive to be a good landlord by keeping your end of the bargain.
This means keeping things fixed that you’re in charge of, such as heating and plumbing. But it also means being clear with your tenants from the very beginning about expectations from both parties. It’s also helpful to make yourself readily available with emergency numbers for off-hours.
Most importantly, give yourself every advantage by choosing the best renters. Conduct a free tenant screening for every applicant and check their references thoroughly. This won’t guarantee that you’ll never have to deal with difficult people, but it will certainly minimize your chances.
Calm them down
If a tenant approaches you in anger, it may take a little time to calm them down. When someone becomes angry, their body immediately goes into fight-or-flight mode. If they’re approaching you, chances are they’re leaning toward the latter. In this state, people tend to say things without thinking because they’re not thinking clearly. Psychologists say it takes about 20 minutes to recover and start to calm down.
During this time, you will have to remain calm and try not to take their words personally. Let them know you are there to listen and help. Put yourself in their shoes and try to actively empathize with them. If you are able to remain calm and let them know you’re sincere, they are likely to respond in kind.
No matter who’s in the wrong, there’s a way to apologize gracefully. Sometimes, you just need to say you’re sorry they’re not happy, but you’d like to work together to resolve the problem. Once they’re able to talk rationally, find out what their ideal solution would be and see if you can make a compromise.
You might find, when you hear them out, that you could’ve handled the situation differently from the start. Even if they’re completely wrong, however, at least you’ve given them the chance to be heard.
It’s not always easy to listen to someone we think is clearly wrong and acting emotionally, but it’s important to remember that they’re actually coming to you for help. The first thing this person wants to do is vent. They want to feel like they are getting across what they need to say to someone who is listening.
Allow your tenant to say everything they want to say without argument. Maintain eye contact and repeat back key elements of the conversation so you can be sure you’re hearing them correctly.
Bring in a third party
There will be times when you can’t resolve an issue no matter how hard you try. It might be that the two of you have a personality conflict or that the tenant is too angry to listen. In these situations, it might be best to call in a third party to mediate. It’s best if this person is a neutral bystander, but it’s not always possible or advisable to bring in someone you don’t know at all.
Instead, consider inviting another tenant and someone you do business with for a meeting. For one thing, this ensures that you’re not alone in case things get heated. But it also allows you to get more than one perspective on the argument.
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