You can’t ever be sure exactly who is going to slide into the backseat of your sedan or what kind of emotional baggage they’re carrying.
Whether you’ve run into an undesirable situation or need to enforce an agency policy, it’s ultimately up to you to manage your difficult passengers and their negative emotions to keep them safe and satisfied with your service. You can’t control how passengers behave initially, but by engaging them in a positive, assertive way can help avoid escalations.
Diffuse Anger and Stay in Control
Passengers could be on the threshold of losing their tempers for any number of personal reasons. When an incident threatens to tip them over the edge, controlling your reaction is crucial so as not to feed the fire.
If your own anger is rising, taking a deep breath and employing these strategies can help you keep control:
- Maintain neutral body language — stay still and relaxed and make eye contact
- Keep your tone of voice low and steady
- Apologize, empathize and paraphrase their concerns
- Don’t make accusations — begin your phrases with “I” rather than “you”
It is improper for a passenger to take their frustration out on you; however, you are the professional and have the most power to neutralize potentially explosive situations.
Listen With Empathy
Actively listening to passengers’ problems is the first step towards both making them feel recognized and resolving their concerns. More than simply hearing their words, you must try to understand and acknowledge the underlying trouble.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t initially grasp the issue. Repeat your passengers’ statements back in your own words and ask if you’ve understood them correctly.
Pay special attention to nonverbal communications like facial expressions and sympathetic reactions like nodding. Body language is recognized on a subconscious level and can be very effective at conveying genuine concern.
Communicate Clearly and Assertively
While you don’t want to appear hostile, you don’t want to let your difficult passengers walk all over you either, especially when safety is the issue. Therefore, it’s vital to understand the difference between aggressive and assertive communication.
Aggressive statements are accusatory and imply that you are in the right, and it doesn’t matter what your passengers think. Assertive exchanges stick to the facts and foster mutual understanding and resolution.
Acknowledging passengers’ concerns with an apology almost always helps, even if it’s not your fault — it’s a fast, easy way to communicate your understanding of your passenger’s feelings. If the issue is beyond your control, you can still take responsibility for anything you can do to improve the situation and ask for their cooperation.
About American Risk Management, Inc.
American Risk Management, Inc. (ARM), along with its predecessor entities, has provided public auto business owners with coverage for their vehicles and operations since 1938. We provide coverage to taxis, sedans, limousines, ride-sharing vehicles, sightseeing tours, courtesy shuttles, school shuttles, last-mile delivery, and couriers across the Washington, D.C. metro area. Our expertise and experience in the commercial transportation industry allow us to provide our clients solutions that fit their unique risk profiles. To learn more about what we can offer you, call us today at (202) 547-8700.