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Dealing with Irate People and Personal Safety

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Use caution when dealing with irate people.

Irate people add stress to a work environment and can even escalate their hostility into violence in some cases. Whether the anger and abuse is coming from another co-worker, a former co-worker, or a difficult customer, it is important to remain calm and take a few basic steps that will keep everyone safe.

Take Emotions Out of the Equation

When someone is being particularly abusive, it can be difficult to keep your cool. But keeping your emotions in check is vital to dealing with an irate customer. When both parties are emotional, it is like putting a match to gasoline. Remain calm and speak in an even, reasoned tone when addressing the person.

Avoid Isolation

Whether the irate person is a fellow employee or a customer, make sure at least one other person is present with you while you are dealing with the situation. If the situation gets physical, one of you can call for help while the other deals with the person causing the problem.

Know Who Is in the Office

The National Crime Prevention Safety Council recommends securing the office and making strangers check in before entering the interior. Knowing who is in the office at all times can help prevent a dangerous situation, because you’ll know ahead of time if you’ll be coming face-to-face with a potentially irate person. Some offices go a step further and add metal detectors or a security guard to the entry point.

Let the Professionals Handle the Problem

Most companies have managers or security officers who have been trained on how to deal with irate workers and customers. If someone is threatening your personal safety, don’t hesitate to call the person who is skilled at handling irate people. Whenever possible, let those with the proper training and authority intercede. Remain calm until they show up. Don’t do anything to escalate the situation, such as argue with the irate person.

Resources

“Secrets of Dealing with Difficult People” by Mark Lauderdale

National Crime Prevention Council: Tips for Staying Safe at Work

Psychology Today: Dealing with Difficult People

About

Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.