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Protective Services offers tips for dealing with aggressive behavior

How you manage an encounter with a person who is acting aggressively can mean the difference between resolving a situation peacefully or placing yourself and others in danger. Here are some basic tips for dealing with an aggressive person:

  • Do your best to respond calmly and professionally. Use your best customer service attitude when responding and try to see the situation from the person’s perspective. Don’t be sarcastic.
  • Don’t interrupt the person while he or she is speaking. It’s OK to ask follow-up questions, but allow the person to finish his or her thoughts.
  • If you know the person’s name, use it when addressing concerns and questions. It shows you respect the person.
  • When it’s your turn to talk, speak slowly and calmly. Try to lower your vocal tone and remember to check your body language to ensure it’s not threatening.
  • Listen to emotion without emotion. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of bringing the situation under control. Separate your feelings from the situation.
  • Try not to use generic statements. Communicate with empathy and demonstrate a genuine interest in resolving the situation.
  • Evaluate the person’s level of aggressiveness. Decide if his or her actions have the potential to escalate into a physical altercation.
  • Your priority is to stay safe. If you don’t feel safe, leave the area immediately and summon help. Know your emergency contact number – 155 (within the hospital), or 911 (off-site facilities).
  • Avoid physical altercations at all costs. If the individual appears to be intoxicated and/or under the influence of a substance, disengage immediately and summon the authorities.
  • Keep your distance and never enter the other person’s physical space. If you think the person may act out, place yourself between a large object and the aggressor, or move to an exit if possible. When leaving is not the safest option, consider sheltering in place. Find a nearby room; one with a solid door that can be locked from the inside is best.
  • Keep calm and wait for law enforcement or security personnel to arrive and resolve the situation.