Do you have a bomb ready to explode in your business?-Part 2
Written by Robert D. Sollars
This is the 2nd half of the post from last week. It will hopefully give you the remaining tips and ideas you may need at one time or another. My career and methods have always been a tad bit unorthodox but that is one thing that allows me to solve personnel and customer problems easier than others, sometimes.
- Attempt to have a strategically placed third person nearby – The individual you designate shouldn’t be a friend or family member of the upset individual. This person doesn’t have to be in the room with you, just in a place to observe any improprieties or threats. This is especially important if you’re dealing with a member of the opposite sex, some companies require a third person when dealing with this type of situation, which is always a good idea anyway, to prevent innuendo from erupting after the fact.
This person is not there to take sides, which doesn’t mean they can’t empathize. However, they will provide documentation if any claims of harassment, intimidation, threats of reprisal, or sexual innuendo, are made later and ideally, they should be a member of the same sex as the employee/customer. They can also act as backup should it become necessary.
- Use as much physical space as possible – No matter where the location of your meeting you want to stay at least an arm’s length away, preferably 2. This also applies to the initial counter person if it’s a customer. First, it allows for an extra split second to react and secondly, it doesn’t allow them to simply reach out and grab your clothes, facial hair, or throat. As with the front counter width, try to keep something between you and them, anything that can afford you a few extra milliseconds should it threaten to turn violent.
Another aspect is to always leave yourself with an escape route. While assaults are rare in these instances, you never know when you may need it. Try to always have your back to the door with the upset persons back to the wall. And ensure that no sharp objects are within easy reach. Even pens and pencils should be avoided if possible.
- Stick to the issue – As we spoke about earlier, don’t let this angry person goad you into losing your calm attitude by escalating the situation by swearing or questioning your parentage. Always speak authoritatively, softly, clearly, and slowly. While the individual is maligning your morals, character, and values, you must show that the issue can be resolved without resorting to verbal sparring.
Continue to ask questions that move the conversation along without too many track changes or distractions. But try to keep the focus on the issue at hand and gauge the individual’s demeanor. If appropriate, crack a few jokes and lighten the mood, if possible.
- If you feel control slipping away, step out – You are not a verbal punching bag. It is natural to get upset at someone when they are screaming at you. But, again, you must focus on the issue at hand and force yourself to keep a calm and cool exterior. Remember, that it’s not necessarily you they are mad at, you just happen to be a convenient target.
However, if you feel the anger rising, then excuse yourself and step outside. If you lose your cool, then they have won control of the situation. Walkabout and count to 10. Do what you have to do to keep your cool. You may have to pull the third person out to consult with them or just get a drink (remember to offer something to the individual, even buying them a soda. Just don’t stay away for too long. The person will become angrier by the minute and that’s not something you need.
The key to all of these tips is to let the antagonist believe that they are in control at all times. In reality, you are in control and manipulating the situation to the advantage of all concerned. However, don’t let the individual feel they are being patronized or misled, and above all, never lie. Any time a weapon is displayed, of any type, or makes threats, do not hesitate to call either security or the police. Specifically a statement such as ‘I’ve got a gun at home and I know how to use it could and should be considered a threat,
Another item you may wish to implement in these situations is a distress code. This code can be either a word or phrase to let others know that something is wrong and backup may be required. Just ensure that the code chosen is nothing used in everyday conversation. Make it simple and unsubtle so the individual doesn’t know what’s happened – but another staff member knows to call help ASAP.
As I have repeatedly stated over the past few decades, WPV is a threat to any business anywhere, at any time, to anyone, for any reason. It has struck businesses with as few as 5 employees and with multi-national corporations employing hundreds of thousands. But if you know the warning signs, know how to defuse these ticking bombs, and train your security officers and employees along with a plan in place you can minimize the impact to everyone concerned.
Like these blogs? Then please feel free to pass them along, with proper attribution, to friends, colleagues, or anyone who may benefit, from proper attribution. Have them subscribe at my website: Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting
It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Anywhere… For any Reason
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Copyright 2023 Robert D. Sollars