How To Deal With Angry VA Employees
Laura Martinez, USVCP Staff Writer
Original Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Replublished: March 15, 2018
Some VA employees are so abrasive – even abusive – that you never get a chance to talk, share your side of an issue or get to the heart of the problem. Try one or all of these tactics to defuse the situation:
1. Involve them in problem solving. Ask “If everything went your way, how would this issue go?” “How would you like me to resolve this issue?” “What do we have to do to fix this problem?”
2. Paraphrase and repeat. Don’t let a broken-record recitation of woes sidetrack the issue. When they hear their own words coming back at them, they’ll know you got the message.
3. Sidetrack. Interrupt to say “That’s very interesting about x, y and z. Now let me ask you a question that relates to…” If you change the subject, you control the conversation again.
4. Build the relationship. If you can business socialize with VA employees, they’re less likely to subject you to abuse – it’s hard to pressure someone you like and respect.
5. Ask if they really mean it. Repeat their words. Then say “I can’t believe you really meant that. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying….” They may tell you you’re too sensitive. But they may back down.
6. Stall. If you’re pushed into a corner, explain that you have to consult with your VSO. When you get back to them with your answer, a lot of pressure may be gone for good.