“How do I defuse an angry customer?”
“How do I calm down someone who is going off?”
“How can I de-escalate a patient who is causing a scene?”

Teachers, social workers, healthcare workers, customer service representatives, retail clerks, waiters – anyone who works with anybody – can relate to situations and incidents where there is some conflict.  With the dramatic rise in assaults and homicides classified as Type II Workplace Violence by customers and clients, it is essential to prepare employees for these increasingly common threats.

I wrote an article, De-escalating Hostile Behavior: 3 Ways to Maintain Self-Control, that’s Part I in an upcoming series.  The article explains three proven steps to help you keep your cool and handle threatening customers and clients.

In security planning and violence prevention, so much attention naturally is focused on the potential perpetrator. The focus is on how we can change their attitude and therefore their behavior to prevent an assault. However, the first step really begins with you.

The old adages “It takes two to tango,” and “There are two sides to every story” have some merit in confrontational situations, but do not imply fault on the part of the worker.  In many cases, the customer starts the conflict and approaches the employee with a conscious or unconscious intent to start a fight.

However, employees need to understand they have great influence over how the issue is resolved simply by focusing on their own response.  The truth is, workers can handle most situations simply by keeping their cool. Follow the three steps in my article and you’ll gain more control over situations.  Your dignity and composure will influence, tone down and de-escalate hostile behavior in customers.

posted by Johnny Lee

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