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D8 e8 managing conflict with angry clients - participants' manual D8 e8 managing conflict with angry clients - participants' manual Document Transcript

  • Managing Conflict with Angry Clients: Foundational Skills for Front-Line StaffOCASI Professional Development Conference November 2010 ©Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephens Community House, 2010
  • St. Stephen’s Community HouseSt. Stephens Community House is a community-based social service agency,serving the needs of Kensington Market and surrounding neighbourhoods indowntown West Toronto since 1974.The Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) offers mediation and training servicesto people and organizations in conflict or acting to manage future conflict. Wedraw on over 20 years’ practical experience in providing dispute resolution forpeople from diverse backgrounds in many different types of disputes. Improvingcommunication and strengthening relationships is at the heart of our work.Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House91 Bellevue Ave., Toronto, ON. M5T 2N8416-925-2103 416-925-2271 www.ststephenshouse.comcrs.training@ststephenshouse.com______________________________________________________________________ Our View of Conflict • Conflict is inevitable; • Conflict is an opportunity for learning, dialogue and understanding; • Early indicators of conflict can be recognized; • There are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work. With the right response, conflict can be an opportunity. “We all experience painful differences with others as a part of living. Perhaps more than any other challenge in life, our ability to work out differences with others affects our ability to live well and be happy. Yet most of us get little thoughtful guidance on how to do this. We figure out a few things by trial and error, but we are often confused and hurt by what happens in conflicts… [Learning constructive approaches to conflict] can help you understand confusing situations and make a real difference in the quality of relationships in home, school, work and community settings.” – Ron Kraybill© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 2www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Understanding AngerIn order to understand conflict situations, it is important to know that underlying angerthere are commonly two other feelings: disappointment and fear.DisappointmentDisappointment includes anything on the spectrum ranging from mildest disappointment,through a sense of loss, all the way to a feeling of betrayal. A feeling of disappointmentor loss occurs when a need has not been met, whether or not it could be consideredreasonable for the other person to have met that need.It is normal for people to feel disappointment even if they had no legitimate reason toexpect a particular person to meet their needs. (Feelings can often be unreasonable; weuse our discretion when we decide what would be a reasonable way to act on ourfeelings in the circumstances.)FearFear includes anything on the spectrum ranging from mildest concern and worry, throughanxiety, all the way to terror.People may be afraid that a need will be not be met in the future, whether or not theneed has been met in the past, whether or not there is any new reason to expect that theneed will not be met, and whether or not it is reasonable to expect a particular person tomeet that need. Again, feelings can be unreasonable.AngerEither disappointment or fear, or both together, can lead to anger. Understanding whatthe unmet need was, and understanding the experience the person has had in relation tothat need, can be key in dealing with an angry person.ValuesOne kind of need that may not have been met is a need related to a person’s values.A value is simply the feeling a person has about the way things should go in the world,how people should treat each other, what each person is entitled to expect from others.Even experiences that seem insignificant can be tied in with important values that aperson holds.Respect for the conflictThe connection with values is one reason why very heated conflicts can result fromevents that seem trivial. It is important in dealing with people involved in conflict never tominimize the importance of the conflict to them. It is important to show respect andunderstanding for the key values that may be involved and the experiences people havehad around them.© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 3www.ststephenshouse.com View slide
  • When Conflict Goes Wrong… The Dynamics of Conflict EscalationWhen people hear another person’s position, complaints or demands, it makesthem fear that their own needs will not be met.People then feel they must protect their needs by:Defending:  their behaviour (“I’m not doing anything wrong.”) and  their character (“Im being reasonable.”)and by Attacking with:  criticism of the other’s behaviour (“You’ve broken the rules.”);  criticism of the other’s character (“You’re being unreasonable.”);  threats (“I’ll speak to the manager if…”);  insults (“You’re incompetent.”);  minimizing the other’s complaint (“What are you getting so upset about?”).When the other hears the attacks, they respond similarly by defendingthemselves and attacking the other.This escalates the conflict as both people shift their attention away from theproblem and focus on defending themselves and attacking the other.The effects of conflict escalation include:  distrust;  communication breakdown as both avoid hurtful interactions;  misunderstandings that result from unchecked assumptions;  each person’s sense of legitimacy is undermined by the other’s criticisms;  problem-solving is minimal as each spends energy on defending themselves and attacking the other.If one or both people can prevent the cycle of conflict escalation, it will bepossible to build a cooperative problem-solving climate. It increases the chanceof reaching a resolution that will meet everyone’s needs.© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 4www.ststephenshouse.com View slide
  • De-escalating Conflict: Responding to Angry People 1. Try to remain calm and not take the anger personally 2. Acknowledge the person’s concerns (Active Listening) 3. Invite Information around Problem- solving (Active Listening)© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 5www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Remaining CalmTaking a few moments to ground yourself helps you stay calm, organize your thoughts,and separate the person from the problem.Strategies to Get GroundedYour ideas and other participants’ ideas:____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Mind-Body Connection: (adapted from The Instinct To Heal, by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD)There is a physiological basis for our emotions. Medical research has shown that thereis a close connection between the part of our brain that regulates emotion and ourbodies.Under stress, the emotional brain can override the rational/cognitive part of our brain.This is also known as “emotional flooding.” When this happens, our ability to use reasonand to control our behavior is lost, and we can only think in terms of “defense” and“attack”. Emotional flooding also triggers a physiological response (e.g. tension in thebody, increased heart rate etc.) which makes it difficult for us to respond calmly andresolve conflict in a positive and productive way.However, this imbalance can also go in the other direction: The cognitive brain cantemper our emotional reactions, but if overused, we can lose contact with the emotionalpart of our brain, which helps us get in touch with our “gut feeling” about things andwhat truly matters to us.What we want to achieve is a balance between emotion and reason. This balance is thefoundation of self-knowledge, cooperation, and the capacity to resolve conflict.A simple way of achieving this balance and calm is through deep breathing.Three deep breathing methods include: 1) Heart Coherence • Turn your attention inward; set aside personal concerns for a few minutes • Take two deep, slow breaths • Centre attention on your heart for 10-15 seconds • Recall a positive emotion/pleasant memory (feelings of recognition, gratitude, love rapidly provoke heart coherence) • Continue to breathe until a smile appears on your face  2) Relaxing Points of Tension • Stop and take note of where and how your body is tense/reacting to stress or anger • Breathe deeply into these parts of your body until they relax 3) Calming & Smiling • Say/think “calming” as you breathe in, and “smiling” as you breathe out…© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 6www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Not Taking It Personally: Focusing on What’s Beneath the SurfacePositions are judgments or fixed ideas about how to resolve a problem. They are usually accompanied by assumptions about the other person. Positions harden as conflict escalates. People dig into them. People become invested in positions. Changing them can mean losing face.Beneath the surface are a person’s needs, wishes, concerns, feelings, beliefs,values, and experiences. These are the underlying reasons why someonetakes a particular position. They are what is truly most important to people Understanding them clears up mistaken assumptions Understanding them leads to better solutions© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 7www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Charmaine NEVER consults us! She’s such a tyrant! PO Charmaine NEVER consults us! She’s IN such a tyrant! Need PO s ? IN Need s ? This is ridiculous! You fill out that Position: form RIGHT NOW! Below surface: Needs, Wishes Concerns ????? Feelings Beliefs Values Experiences© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 8www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Active Listening Techniques that Help the Other Person Talk About Their Needs Technique Purpose How to Do This • Put the speaker’s keyAcknowledging Information Restating 1. To show that you’re listening and understand points in your own "So youve been trying to get 2. To check your meaning and words this problem resolved for interpretation several weeks.” "So you think Im singling you out because youre a woman. Is that right?” “You find the process too complicated. Is that right?” Reflecting Feelings 1. To show that you • Identify the speaker’s understand how the other emotions “You seem upset about…” person feels • It is often helpful to “You’re really frustrated at the 2. To help the other person include the reason length of time this process is consider his/her own why the speaker taking.” feelings after hearing them feels this way, to “You were embarrassed expressed by someone else avoid sounding when he made that comment patronizing in front of everybody. Is that right?” Reflecting Values and 1. To acknowledge the • Identify the speaker’s Positive Intentions speaker’s values and how values, positive they affect the conflict intentions or positive “Being treated fairly is 2. To recognize the speaker’s efforts important to you.” positive intentions and “You raised your voice to get efforts my attention. Is that right?” “So you’ve done everything you can think of to resolve this.” • Inviting Information Encouraging 1. To convey interest Minimize distractions 2. To encourage the other • Be aware of body person to keep talking language Clarifying Questions 1. To clarify what is said • Ask open-ended 2. To get more information questions “Can you say more about 3. To help the speaker be that?” concrete & specific "What happens when….?" "What is it that Im doing that bothers you?"© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 9www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Why Use Active Listening?When people clearly know that the things of importance to them have beenheard, they… • Feel calmer • Are less likely to respond with defensiveness and attacks • Have greater willingness to listenWhen defensiveness and attacks are reduced or avoided… • The cycle of conflict escalation slows or ends • Information important for problem-solving can come forward The Spirit of Active ListeningGood listening requires that the listener be curious. Know that you don’t knoweverything. Resist assumptions. People and situations are unique and complex.Expect to be surprised. As well, real listening is impossible without having agenuine interest in what’s important to someone else.© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 10www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Communication BlockersThe following approaches tend to discourage people from telling you more abouttheir concerns, feelings, needs, and experiences. We are not saying theseapproaches are never appropriate; for instance, in some situations it may behelpful to reassure someone or give them advice. Before doing so, however, it isgood to ask yourself if you have really taken the time to hear the person out andacknowledge what they have told you.COMMUNICATION BLOCKER EXAMPLEAdvising “What you should do is…”Analyzing / Diagnosing “The problem as I see it is…”Blaming “This would never have happened if you hadn’t…”Cross-Examining “Why did you do that?”Diverting “What I did is not the issue. What about when you…?”Judging/Evaluating “What you’re doing wrong is…” “The only good thing about this is…”Non-Verbal Blockers Negative body language: crossed arms, frowning Negative noises: huffing, sighing, tsking Distracting movements: pacing, tapping, leg- shakingReassuring/Minimizing “Don’t worry, it’s no big deal.” “That’s just how Bob is.”© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 11www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Assorted Techniques to Defuse Hostility in Addition to Active ListeningUse your judgment about when to use these ideas and how to combine them – they arenot appropriate in all situations. When used in appropriate circumstances, thesetechniques will work best when used together with active listening.1. Let the person know which parts of their problem have been solved “I was able to clear up that confusion and this is what will now be happening . . .” “Turns out youre eligible for . . . “/“Yes, now at least you will be able to . . . ” Take action as appropriate to meet part of the person’s concerns2. Explanation or information• “This is what the process is . . . Our policies are…”• “The services we provide here are . . . .. If you need . . . , then you can obtain those services at ...”• “Today I can hear from you all the information about the situation. Then I will need to take a look at it and possibly find out ... When we meet again on . . . , Ill be able to let you know how things look.”3. Take the person to another locationSometimes changing location can give an angry person the chance to calm down a little.For instance, the presence of other people may be affecting the person, and changing locationcan remove them from the “audience”. In another location they may be able to back down fromtheir demands without worrying about losing face.• “Lets sit down over here. It will be easier for us to talk here.”• “Let’s step outside so you can have a smoke while we talk.”• “Let’s go into this meeting room.”In a workplace setting, know the policy on this issue and use your judgment – perhaps youwould choose a place where you can still be seen by your co-workers.4. Leave the person alone for a moment• “I need to take a moment to collect my thoughts…”• “Can we take a break?”• “I’ll check on that for you and I’ll be back in a minute.”5. Make plans about how you will discuss their concerns• "Lets talk about . . . first and deal with . . . after that."© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 12www.ststephenshouse.com
  • 6. Apology/expression of regret/expression of goodwill • “I’m very sorry that… • “I will do all that I can in future to make sure that. . .” • “Let’s check everything over now so we can both feel sure it won’t happen again.” • “I wish I could have helped you with that.”7. Refer the person on to someone else who can help them better• “I think that . . . will be able to help you sort out your situation better than I can.”Be clear what the policy is in your workplace about this.8. Pass the person on to someone with more authority • “I will ask my supervisor to speak to you about your concerns.” • “I will consult the director about your concerns.”Again, be clear about your workplace policy on this.9. Let the person know who can make the change they are requesting• “Some people disagree with the way our procedures work. The procedures are set by ... Let me tell you how to contact them so you can let them know what you think. If enough people contact them about it, perhaps there will be a change.”• “The policy on this is… A change in policy will require…”Again, know the policy in your workplace on this issue.10. Identify with the client or staff personIf you honestly feel sympathy with the person, you may consider speaking directly about it, butbe aware of the risks.• “If that had happened to me I would be frustrated, too.”• “I agree – there are a lot of stupid rules you have to follow, arent there?”• “I understand what it’s like. I’ve been there too.”Risks:a) The person may expect you to bend the rules for them, to make an exception. If you laterhave to disappoint them, they can feel particularly betrayed, because they believed you were ontheir side.b) The person may not believe you. They may feel you couldn’t possibly “understand what it’slike” or that you couldn’t possibly agree with them about “a lot of stupid rules.” This mightalienate them even further.© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 13www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Setting BoundariesIn many cases, active listening is sufficient to get a person to calm down (or stay calm) and co-operate with you. However, when you’ve tried active listening and the person’s behaviour stillseriously interferes with your ability to do your work, or when you feel you are being harassed ortreated abusively, it is important to address the situation directly. This can be done throughsetting choices and consequences or giving a directive statement.Recommended steps: Step 1: Prepare yourself and avoid escalating the situation Stay calm and respectful Step 2: Acknowledge person’s concerns and express willingness to help Use active listening, staying brief and to the point Step 3: Use Directive Statements Identify appropriate behaviour, make requests, identify consequences, and set limits Step 4: Deal with the person’s concerns Use active listening in a thorough way to find out more about the person’s concerns© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 14www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Step 1: Prepare yourself and avoid escalating the situation • Avoid becoming defensive. (Dont say: “It’s not my fault that . . . ”) • Avoid criticizing, blaming, insulting and judging. (Don’t say: “Youre making this very difficult for me”, “It’s your fault that . . . ”, “Stop being so rude”, “Youre very insulting. I can see you’ll never make very many friends in this world.”) • Do not use promises. (Don’t say: “If you . . . , I’ll make sure that . . . ”) • Do not threaten unrealistic consequences (that is, consequences that are too extreme for the situation). • Avoid retaliating for the hostile, hurtful comments the person may have made.Step 2: Acknowledge the person’s concerns and express willingness to helpAcknowledge the concerns and feelings you have heard expressed so far • “I can see you’re really frustrated by this situation….” • “You’re really furious about what happened…” • “You’ve been under a lot of pressure because of what’s happened and you were really hoping to get this settled today …”Express your intention to help • “I want to do what I can to help you with that (or ‘to address your concerns’).”Step 3: Use Directive StatementsProvide neutral description of problematic behaviour • “You’re raising your voice.” • “You’re leaning across my desk.” • “You’re making comments about my background.”Describe impact of their behaviour on you and on your ability to help • “When you talk at this level, I find it hard to listen to what you’re saying.” • “When you lean across my desk, I feel uncomfortable and it makes it hard for me to work with you.” • “When you interrupt me with these comments, I can’t explain the situation and move this process along for you.”Or state your needs • “If we’re going to talk about this, you need to keep your voice down.” • “For me to help you, you need to step back a little.” • “If we’re going to work together, you need to let me speak before you add your ideas.”Get agreement for them to change their behaviour • “Would you be willing to keep your voice down? Okay…” • “Could you move back so we could do that? Great…”© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 15www.ststephenshouse.com
  • • “Could you do that? Thanks…”Or provide calming down period • “I’m not going to continue this conversation right now while you are using language that disrespects me. Have a seat and I will talk to you again in 10 minutes.” • “It’s not okay for you to talk to me like this. Our rules apply to everyone equally. When you feel able to respect them, you are welcome to come back.”Step 4: Deal with the Person’s ConcernsFollow a directive statement with a return to the person’s concerns. Use active listeningto reduce the chance of more disruptive behaviour. • “Now, you mentioned . . . ; tell me what’s on your mind about that.” • “You were telling me about . . . ; what happened after that?” • “You were starting to tell me about . . ..” • “Now at this point your choices are . . . and . . . . How would you like to handle it?” Examples of Setting BoundariesYou’ve been under a lot of pressure because of what’s happened. And I’m going to do all I canto help you with that situation (acknowledgement of concern, expression of willingness to help).But if you keep making comments about my education, we’ll have to take a break fromdiscussing this until you calm down (directive statement). Now you mentioned … ; tell me what’son your mind about that (dealing with person’s concern).You’re obviously furious about what happened (acknowledgement of concern), but could youtone it down a bit (directive statement)? You were telling me about …. What happened after that(dealing with person’s concern)?You’re in difficult situation and I want to help you sort it out (acknowledgement of concern,expression of willingness to help), but my background is not relevant here. You need to treatme with more respect if you want me to help you. (directive statement). So let’s talk about whatyou need in this situation. Tell me … (dealing with person’s concern).You’re very frustrated by now, and I want to hear you (acknowledgement of concern,expression of willingness to help). If you can back down off my desk, we can go over it step bystep (directive statement). You were starting to tell me about … (dealing with person’s concern).You’re really worried about something that was delayed and you really want some action.(acknowledgement of concern). But I can’t help you unless you use words that are more polite© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 16www.ststephenshouse.com
  • (directive statement). Obviously you called for a reason and I’m going to do whatever I can toassist you (expression of willingness to help). Tell me … (dealing with person’s concern).© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 17www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Directive Statements Exercise1. Personal Space: You are meeting with an employment program applicant in your office. You inform him that there is no space in the program right now. He gets up and leans on your desk about a foot away from your face and says: ”I really need to get into this program RIGHT AWAY!!”You say:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________2. Swearing/Name-Calling: You’ve been helping a client fill an application form. It has taken a long time because the form is complex and you have had to look up some extra information. And she says: “This f___ing organization is useless. I can’t believe how f___ing incompetent this place is! You’re just idiots, all of you!”You say:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________3. Prejudice: A client who is upset with you, says in exasperation: “You people are all alike!”You say:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 18www.ststephenshouse.com
  • 4. Yelling: A client has arrived late to your agency’s food bank. You tell her that there is no more food left, but that you will try to find another food bank that is still open. She yells, “This is STUPID! Why can’t you just GIVE ME SOME FOOD? Just GIVE ME SOME FOOD!”You say:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________5. Badgering: A client calls you ten times over a four-day period. You’d already told him earlier that you were very busy this week, and would get back to him the following week.You say:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 19www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Reducing or Avoiding Hostility When Giving Information1. Use active listening to defuse hostility and calm the person in preparation forgiving them information.A person who is calm can listen better. When a person feels that you are taking themseriously, they are more willing to pay attention to what you say.2. When a rule/law/regulation/policy is involved, let the person know about it.This can help make it clear that you are not the source of the person’s disappointment ordifficulty, the rule is. Then they are less likely to be angry at you personally, especially ifyou continue to acknowledge their concerns and express your regret or your wish thatyou could have helped. Examples: The rule that applies in this situation is . . . . That means that only people who . . . . Im sorry that you wont be able to . . . . At this point you could either . . . or . . . . . The policy is . . . . That means that you need to . . . . I wish that we could have helped you with that. Perhaps you would like to consider. . . . The rule is . . . . I know this puts you in a difficult situation, but unfortunately thats the rule. I wish we could have done more. But what we can do is . . . .3. Explain the reason for the rule/law/regulation/policy.Dont assume that the person understands what the rule is about or why it is there. Manyrules seem arbitrary or senseless when the reason is not clear. Understanding thepurpose for a rule may help reduce resentment.4. Speak in positive terms when possible.People will tend to get angry less if you can speak to them in positive terms more often.Consider rephrasing your sentences to use positive words. Examples: Use positive phrases Avoid negative phrases Angry person: Can I do X? Angry person: Can I do X? You: Yes, after Y happens. You: No, not until Y happens. You: It works best when . . . You: Thats not a good idea.© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 20www.ststephenshouse.com
  • 5. Only offer to do what you can really follow through on.Think carefully about what you offer to avoid raising hopes that may be disappointed.Consider being cautious in your offers. Examples: More cautious offer Less cautious offer Ill check and see if theres anything Theres a good chance that . . . . Ill let else that would help you here. you know.6. At the end, summarize what you and the person have discussed together.This can allow you to reduce and avoid hostility by: a) acknowledging the person’s concerns, b) reminding the person of what you have done to assist them, c) reminding the person what you are planning to do, if anything, d) reminding the person what they must now do, if anything.7. Keep things simple. a) Speak clearly and slowly. Pauses can give the person time to understand what you have said. b) Use simple words. c) Be redundant. Say the same idea twice using different words or a different approach.Use your judgment. If you overdo this approach it can sound patronizing.8. If you need to raise a concern about the person’s behaviour, avoid usinglanguage that is blaming or judgmental. Start with something positive, e.g. something you appreciate about them, or an acknowledgment of the constraints they face. When you raise your concern, focusing on the effect of their behaviour rather than criticizing or blaming them.For example, instead of saying: “Amina, I’m tired of you being late for ESL class all thetime. It’s very inconsiderate,” try saying: “Amina, I know you’re very busy and have alot to do. When you’re late for class, though, it makes it difficult for me to cover all thematerial properly. Could you please try to be on time from now on?”© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 21www.ststephenshouse.com
  • Personal Action PlanA key skill or concept I learned is:As a result of this training, I will...Keep doing:Stop doing:Start doing:© Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House 22www.ststephenshouse.com