How to stay calm with an angry caller

The client on the other end of the line is extremely angry, and your first reaction is to groan. Your second reaction is to transfer the caller to your supervisor.

But your supervisor doesn’t want to handle the caller, either, so she transfers him to your risk manager. "Now, the caller has had to repeat the same story three times, and he is really mad," says Carol Stock, JD, MN, RN, principal of Carol M. Stock & Associates and adjunct professor of nursing at the Seattle Pacific University Department of Graduate Nursing.

"If you are confronted by an angry caller, you cannot hang up, but you can try to diffuse the anger. You should empower your case managers to handle difficult callers themselves rather than shuffling clients around and adding to their frustration," she says.

It’s also not uncommon for telephonic case managers to receive obscene telephone calls, she notes. "It’s best to handle these calls very matter of factly. Obscene callers are trying to get you upset — to get a reaction. When they don’t get a reaction, they stop calling." (For more discussion of legal issues in telephonic case management, see story, p. 172.)