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Step by step processes can be beneficial in how we react, so here are 2 reaction approaches, the first of which is a ten step method and the second is what's known as the R’s approach.

Firstly, Assess the situation - Assess your own feelings at the time, Assess the actions and body language of the person you are dealing with, Assess the environment, is their assistance available if you require it.

Secondly, Remain as calm as possible, if you’re not in control, then they are.
Speak slowly, clearly and with a soft calm voice.
Use positive, calming body language

And finally, listen to what the person is saying, before attempting to sort out the problem. Our perception of what they want may be different from theirs.

Try to let insults and rudeness wash over you in the interest of solving the problem. You have no control over what the person is going to do or say. The only control you have is the way in which you respond and react.

Assess what is being said and the possible outcome, assess your answers, are they going to inflame or cause an adverse reaction? assess your feelings, are you becoming upset or frustrated.

Look for a positive outcome to the situation. You are not trying to control the person or win the fight, or have a battle of wits.
Do not try to manage an angry person, until you have first tried to calm them down and remember, Always anticipate a possible adverse outcome, if it doesn’t happen, then at least you were prepared.

Now let's move onto The R’s

Recognise early warning signs by observation and assessment of the person through their body language or what they may be saying. Who they are with, can also be an additional issue as a second person can mean there's no backing down in case a loss of face occurs. The environment could be an issue, are they blocking the exit, or are you, try and think of what the problem could be, maybe you’re on the returns desk. Reason and Reasonableness, or common sense and comprehension, this is the time to try and get the person to understand rules, your role and the best way forward, remember that your attitude and behaviour dictates their attitude and behaviour.

Relate by showing empathy, understanding and awareness of the person’s situation. Be More customer or service user-friendly in showing a humanistic approach.

Reply to underlying emotions, if you can see that this is making the individual upset or angry use your own examples and experiences.

The Reciprocal process, which is something given or done in return, gives a positive approach and leaves both parties agreeing to a part resolved the issue.

Retreat if needed by taking a backward step, this may be required to defuse the situation and give the person time and space.

Respond and react as appropriate by using active listening, showing understanding and by using appropriate reply’s as you speak, don’t interrupt or complete the other person sentences.

Report, Record and Review mean that you must re-examine, even if there has been even a near miss. This should be recorded, along with any issues. A de-brief where the issue is discussed can help to put new control systems in place and for others to learn from what has happened, and this can be passed onto other staff as part of ongoing training.