We teach a traffic light model with escalating levels to show staff what to look for in challenging interactions and how to recognise movement between the escalating levels.

It’s important to  know how and when to try de-escalation strategies (such as acknowledging someone’s angst) and when to disengage to create safety zones or distance.

If you are on the font line you need to know how to measure the potential risk and how to manage the physical, physiological and psychological impacts associated with other people’s challenging behaviours.

If you are a team leader perhaps it’s time to take a pulse and consider these questions with your team...

• Can your staff recognise and articulate the situation in terms of risk and escalation?

• Do they have strategies to keep themselves and others safe during interactions that become abusive?

• Do they feel they have permission to take the appropriate action?

• Does your organisation have policies and practices that support managing risk effectively in challenging situations and do your staff know them?

Richard Branston says, “If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers”. Let’s make sure staff know they have permission and strategies to look after themselves.

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