Customers in customer service often can be quite difficult. Karens can make your job miserable by demanding to speak over the phone and insisting on speaking when told not to; their demands can make your job impossible!
But while there are ways to handle an annoying Karen, they’re still challenging. That’s why I compiled this list of tips to help you manage one if one comes your way.
1. Say No
An unpleasant Karen is someone who is highly demanding and acts unprofessionally, which can be very stressful to work with and cause you discomfort. But if this person must remain part of your team, there are steps you can take to minimize any disruption they cause.
First and foremost, when dealing with Karen it’s crucial that you stand your ground and say no. Any attempt at negotiation could backfire and make her even more aggressive and hostile towards you.
Removing yourself from an abusive Karen is another effective strategy. Although this may sound counterproductive, leaving any situation is often better than staying and becoming victims of it.
Avoid confrontation if the person being aggressive with you has a history of abusive behaviour or is known for lying. Escaping from such situations will also likely be less costly than trying to resolve things yourself and could help preserve both your job and reputation.
Keep in mind that these people may simply be acting out their own frustrations. While you cannot change their behavior, but make it known to them that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated by you.
If you find yourself in this position, calling the police might be necessary to deal with their demands. Though not something you should ignore, taking swift action to make this situation better for all parties involved may help resolve it quickly and decisively.
Notably, not only are Karens involved in professional activities that may seem less-than-scrupulous – in Portland for instance, middle-class white women known as “The Wall of Moms” have taken an active part in protest movements against gentrification and classism in their city.
Though these individuals do not identify with the term ‘Karens,’ they still feel like it applies. Being more aware of how others view them may negatively influence how they navigate certain situations.
2. Be Patient
Dealing with rude customers can be challenging. They think they deserve special treatment, and feel they should put themselves before everyone else in terms of time value and priorities.
Navigating this situation can be challenging for both parties involved, and can quickly escalate if not dealt with appropriately. Retail workers in particular often encounter such customers. A Walmart employee named Rachel Timsina captured on video an angry customer dubbed Karen who called her out for calling her an innocent “little girl”, as well as making some very sexist and disrespectful comments to her face.
There are a few steps you can take to defuse the situation and assist this customer, including being patient. The key thing here is being calm.
Second, be kind and acknowledge the legitimacy of her feelings. She may have been dissatisfied that she had to wait for her coffee or her chardonnay wasn’t five percent off; furthermore she likely had children that needed collecting from school that day as well as being in a rush herself.
Once she is calmer, take a moment to consider how your interactions may have made her feel. If she had an enjoyable experience, chances are she will return more frequently in future interactions.
Otherwise, you risk making her feel worse. Be understanding and remember that she could be having an awful day; try offering something to cheer her up instead.
Hopefully this will go far toward helping your customer feel better about their experience with you. So the next time Karen enters, be the person to demonstrate that you’re an attentive listener who truly values her feedback.
3. Be Kind
When people think of Karen, they tend to conjure images of an anxious white woman wearing a bob haircut and wanting to speak to the manager. But this term encompasses so much more; it refers to middle-aged white women who exhibit behavior rooted in privilege.
It has become an internet meme and used by both men and women to criticise others. It has also opened up conversations around classism, racism and casual misogyny in the workplace.
Starting off as just a few remarks on social media referencing entitled women who demanded to speak to managers, the term Karen quickly gained momentum and even made its way into mainstream conversations due to viral videos displaying some examples of “Karens” doing things that were either illegal or considered rude behavior.
These incidents left people very alarmed, along with the notion of what can be called “Karens”. Karens are defined as entitled white women who believe they should get what they want without any interference or legal restrictions; it’s all about them thinking they are above the law.
According to activist Alicia Sanchez Gill, women of color often use the name Karen to identify white privileged women who exhibit racist or microaggression-type behavior. Such individuals include people who demand meeting with management or who complain about minor infractions while engaging in other forms of behaviour that reflect their privilege and systemic oppression.
Coronavirus Karens are particularly problematic; they do not wear face masks in stores or abide by quarantine protocols and believe the whole pandemic thing to be overblown. Their actions have led them into trouble with local health authorities as well as public ridicule.
But many on Twitter are saying the phrase is sexist and classist, and therefore shouldn’t be casually used against women as an insulting term. Feminist commentator Julie Bindel tweeted in December that it should be seen as misogynistic working-class language that should be called out.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty
“Rude Karen” has become a widely used term to denote individuals who act in an aggressive and offensive manner towards those around them – from waiters mishandling orders or calling police on Black people walking down the street, to calling the authorities on these individuals just walking by them on the street. Much of their behavior can often be recorded via social media and shared publicly as proof that such behaviour has become rampant across society.
How you respond to someone being rude depends entirely upon your relationship and feelings about them, along with what has caused offense to be spoken or said by them.
At times, an unpleasant Karen may just be acting out due to entitlement or moral superiority – don’t be intimidated into suppressing them! If you have the power to intervene and stop this behavior from continuing. Don’t hesitate to use it.
Feeling guilty over an arrogant Karen is unnecessary as they often carry around plenty of emotional baggage which makes it hard to disentangle from their behavior. Additionally, it may not be unusual for them to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances which could affect them directly or indirectly.
When dealing with these situations, it’s essential that you remain polite and non-aggressive towards those involved, since their behavior is likely not in their best interest. Instead, let them know you are there as their supporter, so if they need any assistance they can reach out directly.
At the core, it’s important to remember that this behavior is normal and more common than you think – particularly among younger individuals who can easily get stuck into habits of being abrupt and rude.
As much as it may feel like it, try not to let this behavior make you feel bad and guilty; rather, focus on becoming more understanding and compassionate instead. This will only benefit you in the long run.
“Karen” is an insulting term often applied to white women perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond what is normal for their gender and race. This may include demands to speak directly to a manager, racist behavior or wearing certain hairstyles such as the bob cut hairstyle.