This technique allows you to retain control throughout, because at each stage, you control what happens next. So someone – say a customer – is being belligerent or aggressive towards you. This is the 5 step plan to follow, based on the acronym IRATE. The first step is I for Ignore. You will probably have zero tolerance on certain issues, in which case there will be a recommended procedure for that. Otherwise, you can choose to ignore the first evidence of belligerence, because you decide it’s harmless enough, they are letting off steam, and you can take this one-off occasion The second step is R, for Raise. if their behaviour persists, then raise your concern. We suggest the following statement: offer their name if you know it, then: “I’m trying to help you here, but am finding it difficult when you (name the behaviour). Please stop.” That way the request is clear. Also the other person might have a blind spot, and genuinely not realise they are behaving as they are, or that it is having a negative effect on you. But now they do know. The third step is A, for Announce Announce the consequence that you WILL take if they persist. If they do still persist, then it can’t be because they didn’t know. So you need to let them know what will happen if they continue. We suggest something like this: “I’ve asked you to stop, but you are still (name their behaviour). If you continue, I will (announce the behaviour you will take). I’d rather not do that, since I want to help, but I’m not prepared to accept the way you are behaving.” This is not a threat. You are simply making it clear that they have a choice, and for each choice there’s a consequence. The fourth step is T, for Take Action: Take the action you’ve announced. Despite you having said what will happen, they continue. So without any further comment or engagement, take the action announced. The fifth and final step is E for Explain: Explain to your team leader or manager what has just happened. They need to know, and now, what’s just happened, so if the aggrieved customer takes their treatment up with them, they are in the know and can support you.
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