(Businessweek) — Eventually, all small business owners are faced with a customer who’s ready for conversational battle. Sometimes there is good reason for these combative conversations; sometimes there isn’t. Either way, when faced with this situation, you might get the urge to fight back. Or you might try to submit or adhere to every demand of the other person. Neither of these options is a good idea. Instead, the best way to extinguish a fiery conversation is to be assertive. To do this you need to listen up, pace yourself, and then take the lead. Listen up. In a poker game, the player who bets last has a big advantage because he or she gets to hear the other bets first. Using the extra information, he or she can make better decisions. This principle is the same for conversations, especially difficult ones. Always let difficult customers speak first so you can use what they tell you to craft the right response.
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