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Tips for dealing with confrontational customer tomorrow

(8 Posts)
hobbler Sun 01-Dec-19 13:20:09

Hi all,

I work in public service and therefore deal with members of the public face to face all day at a desk.

Tomorrow I have a particularly challenging person booked to me who has significant alcohol/possible MH issues and at his last meeting he was rude, loud, argumentative.

I’ve got to see him tomorrow for a particularly difficult appointment and I’m stressing about it, it’s been on my mind all weekend. Most of the people I deal with are fine but the small minority really get to me. I’m crap at handling confrontational people and when they draw attention to themselves/me. I always worry I’m saying or doing the wrong thing.
I think this stress is exacerbated by the fact I’ve had a physical health issue recently and been on a phased return to work and my confidence is generally a bit low.
I want to face this head on and get the person seen and wondered what everyone else’s tips are for dealing with this if you’re in a similar role.

Thank you smile

Rainbowshine Sun 01-Dec-19 13:31:39

1. Your employer should have conducted a risk assessment for this situation, identifying practical measures - ask your manager to go through this with you to prepare. For example I would only do a home visit with employees in pairs and check whether they have animals.
2. Have a plan for ending the meeting if you’re uncomfortable. Have back up, place yourself near the exit.
3. Does your employer have a zero tolerance of abuse towards staff? What’s their approach for dealing with the culprits? NHS Trusts have campaigned against violence and abuse of their staff as an example. Perhaps approach the recognised union to tackle the issue overall.

GinandGingerBeer Sun 01-Dec-19 14:21:07

Are you giving him info he doesn't want to hear? Or does he need something from you?
Set your stall out......
Good morning you're hear today so we can XYZ.
Keep pulling him back to the point ' I want to help you to xyz but if you continue to shout/swear, I will terminate the interview.
"As you have continued to shout/swear,you have given me no choice but to terminate the interview. I am happy however to see you to sort xyz (later today/tomorrow/next week) on the understanding that I cannot help you if you are abusive. Goodbye"
Then you leave your desk and security ask him to leave. Don't say another word and don't hang around.
I have found you don't tend to have to do this again and they're on best behaviour as they know you'll not take any shit.
One things for sure, he'll not be stressing about seeing you tomorrow and you really shouldn't be put in this position unless you've done the proper keeping safe/handling difficult situations training. Alternatively your manager should sit in with you.

Rainbowshine Mon 02-Dec-19 18:08:45

@hobbler how did it go today? I hope it was ok if you did end up having to meet this person.

Miljea Mon 02-Dec-19 18:26:10

NHS may have policies, but good luck getting them to stand up to confrontational patients, unless they deck you, drawing blood.

hobbler Tue 03-Dec-19 13:47:46

@Rainbowshine thank you checking back. In the end he rebooked his appointment so I didn’t even have to see him in the end. Spent all weekend and morning stressing over it for nothing sad

Rainbowshine Tue 03-Dec-19 18:05:09

@hobbler glad you didn’t have to deal with that behaviour, but if this is something that you might have to deal with again then my advice and @GinandGingerBeer’s advice would still stand. This is your manager’s job to deal with the prospect of the behaviour and the organisation owes you a duty of care.

HollowTalk Tue 03-Dec-19 18:08:42

In future could you ask a colleague to be in the room at the same time? You could say they are training or something like that.

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