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Employees learn conflict management skills from sheriff's dept.

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Dec 12 2012 06:54:29 PM MST
Employees learn conflict management skills from sheriff's dept.
MISSOULA, Mont. -

NBC Montana told you last month about a woman who was stabbed off of Expressway Blvd, west of Missoula.  Now the company next door to where to victim went to call for help is making sure its employees are prepared for handling confrontations like the one their neighbors faced.  

Wednesday evening employees at BMC Services were taught how to handle different types confrontational situations.

The 'de-escalation class' was hosted by the Missoula Sheriff's Department at the request of BMC.

Detective Jason Johnson says there are three key point to handling an aggressive verbal confrontation.  

He says most importantly stay calm, even if the person you're talking with continues raise their voice.  

Johnson says maintaining the same tone through a verbal confrontation can actually calm the other person down. He realizes it can be difficult to keep your cool, but he says overall you'll have more success conversing with the other party if you can stay calm.  

Johnson also says it's important to simply listen to what the person is saying, even if you have to give them time to rant.  He says more times than not the person arguing just wants someone to talk with them about the situation.  

He says it's important to avoid telling someone 'I know how you feel,' and says it's better to tell the person 'I can understand why you might feel that way."

Johnson added it's also good to avoid phrases like 'I understand what you're saying, but...'  He says adding the 'but' at the end of the sentence will make the other party act more defensively.

Lastly, employees at Wednesday's meeting learned that during a heated verbal confrontation you should keep a safe physical distance from the irate person and if the situation continues to escalate, Johnson says its best to walk away.  

"If it's very serious, if there are threats against your health or threats of using physical force you can always come back later with an officer or you can report the incident," said Johnson.  "Especially if it involves an employer or co-worker."

Johnson says the last thing you want a conflict to turn into is a physical altercation.  That's why he says it's important to stay calm, maintain your tone and call police if a conflict escalates to an unsafe level.