"Seeing" things a little differently
As a staff member of a sheltered workshop that employs close to seventy adults with developmental disabilities, I constantly encounter disagreements, agitation and brawls between the people whom I support. ( Keep in mind that they are adults with a mindset of a 6-14 year old.)
When I tell people where I work I always hear, “It takes a special person to work there, or, I don’t know how you deal with that all day.” Let me honestly say that it does take a great deal of patience but I am in no way special. I have worked here for eleven years and I feel like I’ve reached the end. I guess the lifespan of a job such as this is short. I’ve learned many techniques and skills while here to diffuse arguments and serious accusations that I want to share with you.
Some days I may be able to calm someone just by talking to them in a rational, smooth voice while on another day I may have to use physical strength to breakup a fight.
There are well-known guidelines to reducing an agitated person that works ninety percent of the time. It takes intuitive foresight to respond in a manner that works. There are times when a stern, loud command is needed and there are moments when a soft, motherly request works miracles. Many times just changing the environment does wonders.
I’ve always had a gift for intuition and knowing how to react when conflicts break out and if you think the way someone handles a controversy has nothing to do with an outcome, I am here to prove you wrong. I’ve seen it over and over again.
Consider your own co-workers, friends and family for instance. They all have different personalities and they all handle issues differently. Some different behaviors include aggressive, attention seekers, soft-spoken, drama queen, shy, bossy, level-headed, loud, sweet, selfish, argumentative, calm and the list goes on and on.
1. Follow your gut feeling on how to handle the person that is angry.
2. Try to change the subject and get them thinking about something else.
3. Change the environment. (move them to a different location, outside, etc.)
4. Make sure your tone of voice is appropriate to the circumstance.
%. Do not act scared. Remember you are in control at all times.
I’ve watched an aggressive co-worker attempt to defuse an escalating situation and end up making the conflict worse. I’ve seen a shy, timid co-worker approach an angry person only to be shoved aside. The trick is to know when to be calm and when to be stern, when to step back and when to interfere.
So there you have it, dealing with everyday problems is all in the technique we use in handling it. Learn how to approach the subject so that you can begin defusing it before it becomes a huge dilemma.
How do you handle a conflict? Tell me about your experiences.
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