A working environment is supposed to be a safe and professional one. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes things can build and build until they explode and nobody may have seen the signs. It can be between two employees, but sometimes, it can also happen between an employee and a client.
A client may be going through an unbelievable amount of stress and something may be said by the employee (not to enrage the client) and it can set off a client. Things like this do happen and will continue to happen, so the best thing to do is to try and reduce such dangers. If necessary, you may have to take legal action and consult with an employment lawyer before the workplace tension escalates into violence.
Here are some helpful hints about workplace violence and how to handle it.
1. Always Be Proactive
Try to keep an eye on fellow co-workers when they are with a client. Try to make sure that there are other colleagues in the area that can be seen. This can help deter someone from losing their cool if they see other workers about. Always make sure that your phone is close by, just in case you need to make an emergency phone call to authorities.
Make sure that the furniture is arranged in such a way so as not to feel trapped, both employee and client, though, in a small room, this can be difficult. Try not to have sharp objects like scissors handy, as a client may use it as a weapon.
2. Watch Client’s Body Posture
Sometimes, it is quite easy to see a client’s body language and know that trouble is brewing. Other times, it can be difficult. It all depends on the person; some wear their emotions on their sleeve while others have poker faces.
If you notice them in a waiting area, or when you greet them, notice how they are and how they respond. This may show an indication of what state they are in mentally. You need to keep yourself calm and relaxed and try to portray this. If you can tell that a client is seething, be on guard and maintain a safe distance.
3. Interaction With The Client
When you are talking with the client, try to show some compassion and empathy. Many workers are guilty of not doing so. In fact, some workers are actually guilty of being rude and abrupt. This is wrong and unprofessional. How often have you been on the receiving end of poor service, such as a rude cashier? Some people who work in government offices or places such as a probation office deliberately show an air of authority over the client. This can only provoke someone who is under a lot of stress.
All you need to do is listen. Clients just want someone to hear them out and this can calm them down. Always try to keep calm and don’t go tit-for-tat with the client. It should not be personal.
4. Productivity Levels
Sometimes, if you know that there have been conflicts within the workplace, it is best to deal with it quickly. Left unresolved, it not only creates an unhealthy work environment, productivity levels can also drop, even with those not directly involved. A thorough investigation can help to uncover the root of the problem which may not seem evident. Be supportive of staff and listen to grievances.
Have patience in dealing with outside members as well as within the company itself. Offer support to those who need it and try to be objective. It can be difficult sometimes, but a cool head and compassion can help to de-escalate situations that would otherwise have become violent and dangerous.