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Security expert offers tips to businesses on how to de-escalate situations during coronavirus pandemic

ABC 12 recently brought you the story of a customer spitting on the floor at the We’re Dough Bakery Cookie Café after being asked to wear a mask.
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:55 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (07/23/2020)- “Having a plan in place, having effective strategy before something happens,” said de-escalation expert, John Harris said.

That is the message John Harris, owner of JCH Security Consulting shared with restaurant and hotel owners and managers during a webinar on how to de-escalate situations with difficult customers as businesses in the state are now required to enforce the wearing of masks in their establishment.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association hosted a webinar to help businesses learn:

· HOW TO IDENTIFY AN ESCALATING SITUATION WITH A GUEST.

· STEPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATE WITH AN UPSET GUEST.

· WHO SHOULD BE THE GO-TO PERSON ON SHIFTS WHEN CONFLICTS WITH GUESTS ARISE.

· HOW OWNERS AND MANAGERS CAN BETTER PREPARE THEIR TEAMS.

ABC 12 recently brought you the story of a customer spitting on the floor at the We’re Dough Bakery Cookie Café after being asked to wear a mask.

“He came in and we initiated asked can you please put a mask on and he said well I don’t wear a mask. And my husband responded, we need you to wear a mask or we can’t sell to you,” bakery owner, Jessica McGuire.

Store owner Jessica McGuire said the situation quickly escalated.

“We were just trying to get him to leave because we had other customers here at the time and we were just like thank you have a nice day, but you need to leave and he spat on the floor on his way out,” McGuire said.

Harris offers advice on how to diffuse heated situations:

-Stay calm.

- Don’t take it personal.

-Demonstrate non-threatening body language.

-Create a safe setting.

-Give them plenty of space to leave.

“Stay calm, that’s the first thing. It’s vital that you, your greeter or whoever is facing this unruly customer. It might difficult, but you will only escalate the problem if you get upset and yelling as well. Another thing, don’t take these things personal. It’s not about you, that guy is not mad at you. He mad about other stuff. You must demonstrate non-threatening body language, Avoid crossing your arms, don’t put your hands on your hips. Don’t clinch your fists. You must maintain a relaxed presence about you. You want to keep this semi private so he is not embarrassed. The rest of the customers aren’t upset. Keep this as semi private as possible. Do not position yourself between the customer and the door. Give them a clear avenue to get out,” Harris said.

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