Handling “Transaction Rage”

P.R. Randy Cooney
President of the Success Institute / Designated Broker
Realty Executives


Serving as a Designated Broker for a large Brokerage that processes thousands upon thousands of transactions and manages over 2500 single family rentals, I have occasionally received a call from either, a buyer, seller, tenant, landlord or agent who is unhappy about a current or closed transaction. Some of these calls include emotional outbursts, yelling, accusations, profanity, crying, and verbal threats from the caller. Although it can be difficult to be on the receiving end of such a call, your initial focus should be to diffuse the heightened emotions by doing everything possible to make the caller feel listen to and valued. Below I created my own step-by-step guide for handling these types of calls to enhance the possibility for an amenable resolution. I offer it to you as a go-to reference to help you keep your own emotions, opinions, and ego in-check, while “Handling Transaction Rage.”

  1. PUT CALLER ON BRIEF Once you know you have an upset, angry or hostile person on the line – tell the caller you need to momentarily put them “on hold” to change location for an undisturbed and better conversation with them. Then place them on a brief hold to allow yourself time to find what you need to take notes, locate your step-by-step guide, isolate yourself, and bring to top-of-mind these two important mindsets below.

Be in a State of Curiosity

Curiosity asks questions. Curiosity is interested. Curiosity seeks information by listening. Curiosity does not draw conclusions. Curiosity has no answers. Curiosity does not judge.

Become a Reflective Listener

Be prepared to listen in such a manner that you will be able to “mirror,” as in repeat back, what has been said. This will require limited distractions, intentional listening, and note taking.

Now, take a few deep breaths and prepare to return to the caller by continuing the protocol below.

  1. RETURN TO CALLER and say something like this: “OK, thank you very much for waiting a minute, please tell me what has happened or what is going on…”
  2. ALLOW FOR VENTING: Remind yourself that when a person has come to their “boiling point” it is natural and necessary to “let off ” They likely need to vent, (i.e. release steam), which allows them to “cool down.” This will take some time. Use this time to take notes.
  3. REPEAT BACK everything you heard, which affirms to the complainant they have been heard!
  4. ASK FOR MORE: Ask if there is anything else they need to share about this situation. There will usually be more and/or a rerun of what has already been said. Again, listen and repeat back if
  5. APOLOGIZE for how they are feeling. NOT for what has happened, for you are still in a state of curiosity, seeking to determine what has happened. You might say with empathy, “Let me start by saying, I am so sorry that you are (unhappy) or (seeming distraught) with our (product) or (our service) or (our staff) or (our agent) or (with me).”
  6. THANK THEM for bringing the issue/s to your
  7. TEAM UP: (Optional) Depending on the circumstances you may want to request their assistance or Say: “With your assistance, let’s see if we can find a way to best move forward”. Maybe ask them to put something in writing for clarity. Or provide you with names and contact information for other parties involve that you may need to contact.
  8. EXPLAIN THE STEPS you’ll take to solve the
  9. SET A TIME to follow-up with them, if
  10. HIGHLIGHT the case’s
  11. BE SINCERE as you again express appreciation for them reaching out to