Top tips for de-escalating conflict in a retail setting

    What to do when you’re caught in an unsafe situation at work

      • Maybo News
      • Expert Insights
    • 04.11.21

    The COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s fear and introduced a further set of flashpoints for conflict and aggression.

    As a result, conflict management and de-escalation training are essential for people working in retail so that staff know how to keep a potentially violent situation calm, and can guarantee safety in the workplace.

    There may be a time when no matter what steps you take to mitigate risk, a conflict arises. If this happens, it is important that you know how best to de-escalate it. 

    The actions you need to take are relatively simple if you use our Defuse Calm Resolve model to guide you:

    Defuse - Acknowledge a person’s concerns with a positive approach “I can see you’re unhappy. How can I help?”

    Calm - Listen closely to what they are saying. Show concern and confirm understanding. “This must be very frustrating. Can I check that I have understood?”

    Resolve - If things have calmed, you may be able to resolve the situation by providing the customer with what they need or by offering them an alternative. If you can’t do this an explanation and/or apology often helps. 

    Never use physical force if you don’t have training. Try to calm yourself, take a deep breath and be wary of your body language, for example, don’t point your finger at the agitated person, make sudden movements, or have too much eye contact.

    Exit strategies

    It is crucial that you have an exit strategy in place so that if you ever feel a situation is out of control, you have a way to leave. An example is “Just a moment please, I’ll go and ask my manager”. Whatever you decide, it must come to mind quickly and not worsen the situation.

    Proactive measures to remember: 

    • At times you may need to refuse service
    • Give people space and don’t get in their way
    • Have a route to safety
    • Don’t get angry or take things personally

    For more advice on dealing with conflict as we come out of lockdown check out our other articles: 

    Maybo: How to recognise and overcome COVID-19 flashpoints at work

    Maybo: How to be safe and avoid conflict in the workplace as we come out of lock down

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