Defusing Hostile Interactions

“I’m the front desk person for a child protection agency. Clients come to our office after their children have been taken from them. They are angry, confused, embarrassed, and want their kids back. They don’t see themselves as responsible for what happened. In their view, our agency did this to them. 

“These clients often yell and swear at me. I still need to be professional and polite. I’ve been in my job for just a couple of months and already the stress is getting to me. What can I do to defuse these hostile interactions?

Three Dreaded Words

I recently had an interaction with someone close to me that resulted in some deep reflection. In order to protect the innocent, I’ve created a hypothetical scenario that captures the gist of the interaction.

You’re in the kitchen at work, eating your lunch, minding your own business. A colleague with whom you are close hurries into the kitchen and rushes over to you. In a loud voice, he says the three dreaded words: “Why did you…”