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AIRS National I&R Conference 2012 Presenter: Heather L. Pierce, CIRS Dealing With Difficult People.

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Presentation on theme: "AIRS National I&R Conference 2012 Presenter: Heather L. Pierce, CIRS Dealing With Difficult People."— Presentation transcript:

1 AIRS National I&R Conference 2012 Presenter: Heather L. Pierce, CIRS Dealing With Difficult People

2 Goals of our workshop To look at those callers we term difficult, why we term them as such, and methods we can use to mitigate their impact We will gain an understanding of Which callers we consider difficult What it is that makes them difficult to work with How to interact with such callers in a manner that lessens the impact on you

3 Working with callers Sometimes it works…And sometimes it doesnt…

4 What makes certain callers Difficult? Difficult callers are those whose: Motivation for calling is purposes other than I&R Needs, conditions, or manner of presentation induces us to feel we lack the skills to address the situation Contact is motivated by a problem they are unwilling or unable to identify or address Behavior, lifestyle, or personality we find unattractive or unappealing


6 Group Discussion Time to Vent Youll have 10 minutes for this task. Form small groups of 5-6. First, give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and share where they are from. Next, give everyone a chance to share their most difficult caller!

7 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Good Callers Are…Bad Callers Are… A joy to serve Polite Respectful Thankful Impolite Disrespectful Rude Belligerent Racist Sexist

8 Why do people act that way? Sometimes, there are good reasons… Sometimes, thats just how some people are!

9 Goals in I&R To approach and understand the behavior of each client objectively Strive to provide equal service to everyone – within acceptable limits Remember the people who are the most difficult to serve may need the assistance of an I&R specialist the most!

10 However! There is no need to take personal abuse, particularly if it has a racist or sexist element Different people have different limits of tolerance Be comfortable that the line you draw for yourself reflects your own personal tolerance level and not the limits of others


12 Partner Discussion In a family situation, when someone is arguing loudly with you, are you more inclined to shout back or to stay quiet and wait for it to be over? How do you normally respond when Provoked? Has this changed over the years?

13 Techniques to defuse anger First and foremost, respond to their situation with honest empathy and a genuine attempt to help Remain calm and engage the client Lower your tone of voice and slow the speed of your words Try to demonstrate warmth Repeat an important phrase that the client uses Remain non-judgmental Define your role as best you can in terms of what you can and cant do

14 If the client becomes more angry… Do not match their emotions Do not try to counter their anger with a long, logical argument Do not offer weak platitudes Do not get overly defensive Do not respond with your own anger, however unjust the accusations Defuse yourself before you attempt to defuse others


16 Other tips… Distancing yourself is an important step in retaining objectivity Stop wishing that the person will change or suddenly become reasonable Redefine your idea of success regarding these calls Dont dump difficult clients on other agencies just to get rid of them

17 Mental health calls and constant callers An I&R service receives calls from people with mental health issues who are not looking for help. May simply be lonely May just be a deluge of inappropriate language Not a befriending service, but must develop trust in the service There may be a genuine need for referrals within the call May need referrals in the future

18 Setting boundaries Critical for the overall I&R service to set limits when clients are being abusive, manipulative, over-demanding, or seriously inappropriate This applies to both angry callers and constant callers Do not confuse good customer service with passivity Passive I&R specialists communicate they are willing to take it DISCUSSION ? - When callers are lonely and are calling frequently, what are some of the ways to control the amount of time spent on their calls?

19 Setting boundaries continued Boundaries should be explained in a positive manner whenever possible Example: If you stop shouting, I will stay on the line and talk with you rather than If you dont stop shouting, Ill hang up Consequences should also be clear Example: If you continue to use that type of language, I will have no choice but to end the call or I will talk with you for the next 5 minutes, but you have to agree that this will be your only call to us today

20 Most importantly Remain courteous and state boundaries in a professional manner Be consistent and follow through with any consequences that were outlined Limits should be shared with others in the agency and generally are group or management decisions DISCUSSION ? - What would be the consequences if different I&R Specialists within the same service apply different rules on abusive callers and constant callers?

21 Face-to-Face Interviews Let someone know what is happening so they can be ready to assist if required Do not touch the person. Do not stand over the client. Remain calm but observant. Do not get too close to the client. Look out for signs of increasing tension. Stay at an angle to the client. If you are in a room with the client, make sure you have a clear exit path. Get help before the situation escalates!

22 Practice Makes Perfect Some of us are uncomfortable with confrontation and may shut down when confronted with someone who is angry, loud, or abusive. Find a friend or co-worker and practice! Role play scenarios are available in the ABCs of I&R. Youll be more likely to use the skills youve learned when in an intense situation if youve practiced before.

23 Final note Be sure to fill your own cup first We all provide better service and are better able to handle the unpleasantness of some callers when we are in good physical and emotional health

24 Questions? Thanks for your participation! Heather Pierce 2-1-1 Call Center Coordinator United Way of the Plains 245 N. Water Wichita, KS 67202 316-267-1321 ext. 4301

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