When customers act rude and entitled, it can be a challenging situation for retailers and service providers to manage. Unfortunately, these individuals often cause negative publicity that damages your business’s reputation.
However, there are strategies you can employ to effectively and efficiently deal with these types of customers. Here are a few:
1. Be the bigger person.
Karens, whether in video form or real life, tend to cause a great deal of stress and upset. They call managers, demand special privileges and services, and even escalate matters when they believe someone lower in status is depriving them of what they feel entitled to.
But they also engage in a range of other sex-free behaviors that are not only rude but increasingly racially triggering. Examples include trying to reserve parking spots, harassing service industry workers, and even anti-vaccination microaggressions.
Experts report the term Karen is a derogatory label often applied to middle-aged white women who act with entitlement or rudeness, according to Matt Schimkowitz, senior editor at Know Your Meme. According to Schimkowitz, this trope dates back to the 1960s when this particular nickname first gained notoriety.
Attiah notes that this term has become increasingly mainstream and used to refer to various people in various contexts. She specifically associates it with middle-class white women who demonstrate behaviors arising from their privilege or disenfranchisement, according to Attiah.
These behaviors may be caused by a number of things, such as lack of respect or the feeling that one has been treated unfairly by others. They could also be sparked by issues like a pandemic which disproportionately affects people from minority backgrounds, racism or Black Lives Matter protests.
But there are ways to be the bigger person when dealing with rude and entitled Karens, and these strategies can help you manage any situation you face. Remember: while it may seem like a major issue at present, in the long run addressing the issue will make everyone feel safer and happier.
2. Keep cool.
There are many strategies to deal with rude and entitled Karens, but one strategy that always works: staying composed. It may be a difficult task but it can be done.
Karens are those individuals who will often exhibit extreme emotion when confronted with minor inconveniences, or use tears as leverage in order to get what they want. These women have earned a reputation for their aggressive demeanor towards retail staff and service personnel as well as disrespectful treatment of people of color and other groups.
Social media has seen some extraordinary examples, including “Central Park Karen,” who called the police on a Black man birdwatching in the park. There’s also the “Costco Karen,” who had an explosive tantrum over wearing a face mask and another who licked a door while screaming racist slurs.
As with many online slang terms, the origins of “Karen” remain uncertain. Some believe it originated with black American internet culture as an attempt to find humor in real-world racism and oppression. Others speculate that it’s simply a convenient way for talking about casual racism and privilege experienced by some white women.
In 2020, the term “feminist feminism” gained new significance when video footage emerged depicting women expressing anger over various things – such as refusing to wear masks or social distance during COVID-19 and engaging in highly racist behavior. But its association with sexist language has since spread, leading feminist advocates to advocate against its use to shame women.
No matter your opinion on the Karen meme, it’s essential to remember that its use as a catch-all phrase for demeaning behavior serves as an effective reminder. We need to call out all forms of privilege, insecurity and self-obsession with equal force.
3. Don’t be afraid to call the cops.
The internet is filled with videos of entitled Karens being rude and calling the police on people they don’t like. This phenomenon has gained more notoriety thanks to social media platforms and viral videos.
Many of these incidents take place in places women still frequent more than men, like clothing stores and supermarkets. But this trend is not limited to social media – it’s permeating other aspects of our daily lives as well.
Some have criticized the rise of the term “Karen” as part of a culture that promotes entitlement and false victimhood. These behaviors, which may include demanding special treatment or making exaggerated or false claims of abuse or calling the police on others if they feel their privilege has been denied, have their roots in racism and sexism.
Other than creating stress for business owners, this type of behavior can also cause business disruption due to lack of skills or resources to manage an angry and unruly customer or employee. To prepare yourself for these encounters so you can remain calmly and professionally when they arise, it’s best to have a plan in place beforehand.
One way to manage the tension caused by an entitled or rude Karen is by being empathic. Remember, most Karens aren’t out to destroy your business; they’re simply seeking what they believe they deserve.
Karen may attempt to intimidate you into changing your store policy for their own advantage, so it’s important to stay aware of all company policies and be concise when answering questions in order to prevent being pressured into something that doesn’t make sense.
4. Be empathetic.
When Karen the rude or entitled enters your store, restaurant, or other business setting, they usually intend to get under your skin in some way. This could include either disrupting service or diverting attention away from what really needs attention.
If you’re the manager or bystander in such an encounter, there are a few steps you can take to survive it. Most importantly, show empathy.
Empathy is the capacity to understand another person’s emotions and feel them for yourself. This ability has been highly developed within human beings, making empathy a gift that we can use to support each other in difficult times.
When dealing with Karen, empathy is key. By doing so, you’ll gain the strength to remain calm and assert yourself when necessary.
Empathy begins with taking stock of oneself and considering what you’re feeling. Whether it’s a stressful situation or an anxiety attack, being able to identify what you’re experiencing can be immensely helpful.
For instance, if you’re feeling depressed over losing your job, it is essential to understand this emotion. Not only is it difficult to deal with, but many people experience it.
Empathizing with someone can make their situation worse. So, show your friend you care by listening carefully and showing that you understand their worries and struggles.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to be patient. After Karen has calmed down a bit, you should find it much easier to deal with her rude or entitled remarks. She may try to go back at you at some point, but your ability to remain composed and remain calm will help ensure the encounter doesn’t escalate out of hand.
5. Be patient.
It is no secret that Karens can be a real challenge when working in customer service. While these rude and entitled individuals tend to cast a cloud over everyone’s day, there are ways to manage their behaviors and stay calm when dealing with them.
One of the best ways to handle Karens issues is staying composed. By doing so, you will find it easier to stay composed and feel less overwhelmed.
Take some deep breaths to help you slow down and take a moment before responding to their behavior. Additionally, adding humor into the mix may be beneficial.
Another way to reduce stressful interactions with Karens is by making sure both parties understand your terms and conditions before working together. This could be done through a contract, which sets realistic expectations and reduces the chance of an extended disagreement.
Make it a point to document any policies or rules you have for your customers. Doing this will give them insight into your company’s culture and make handling any problems with them much simpler in the future.
It’s essential to be mindful when dealing with others and recognize your own vulnerabilities. For instance, if you tend to please others more than yourself, it could be difficult for you to deal with someone who exhibits excessive aggression or irrationality. Through self-reflection, however, you can recognize this weakness and use it as fuel for prevention; keeping calm and rational during trying situations like Nick had with Karen.