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.
Have you ever lost sleep trying to make a tough decision?
You lie awake wondering what the right decision is and the to-ing and fro-ing over it feeds ambivalence to make any decision at all.
Here are some ideas to reduce the chances of a bad decision...
1. Don’t get trapped into choosing between two options. Think about the options presented to you and the options outside of that narrow field. Instead of choosing between this and that, search for options that give you both this and that.
2. Analyse the options before you decide to enact one. Consider the very human flaw of confirmation bias in your decision-making process. Force yourself to evaluate information that is contrary to your natural standpoint and consider the positives in that point of view before you consider its negatives.
3. If the decision has your emotions running high, find a way to get a more objective perspective. You might ask someone outside of the situation for their opinion or put yourself in the shoes of another party who might have to make the same decision and ask yourself what they would do if they didn’t have the history or emotional investment that you do.
4. Recognise there are always things you can’t know about the future. We are all making our best guess with the information at hand so prepare for your decision to be the wrong one. Consider the consequences of your decision on a broader horizon and plan to mitigate the risks or how you will respond to them if they eventuate.
Ready for an example?
Imagine you and your partner have bought a house and just discovered you are going to have a baby together. You have chosen one of the rooms to be the nursery, but you are at loggerheads about paint colours. You want to paint it a pale yellow and your partner is holding out for sky blue.
1. Instead of getting locked into yellow and blue only, consider if there are other colours you both like? What does yellow or blue represent to each of you and can you get that same representation from another colour? Is combining the colours an option?
2. Listen to your partners views to understand them not to argue with them. Consider things that you agree on and bring them into your solution.
3. Run your ideas past a colour consultant or think about what works for a nursery now and for resale down the track.
4. Recognise it’s not permanent, if you don’t like it you can change it. The baby will grow up and want something else eventually anyway.
One last trick, if you end up in one of those damned if I do, damned if I don’t decisions... choose what’s right, then at least you know you stood for something when you’re being creamed for it.