I was away at the European Network of Trainers in the Management of Aggression (ENTMA) conference in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago and whilst I was there I saw lots of demonstrations and examples of how other countries combat conflict resolution. I was really impressed with the quality of training on offer but the one presentation that really impressed me was one from the Swiss.

In Switzerland they used the strategy that I think we should all use when it comes to conflict resolution.

The Swiss came from a very low base of no training and no conflict resolution solution at all, so they went from nothing to one of the best solutions in Europe by following these simple steps.

This particular case study they cited was on a local hospital where they surveyed a large number of people 1,500, in fact it was everybody in the hospital that they interviewed either directly or indirectly.

The interviewers asked them what caused the conflict, what time did it happen and where did occur? They even asked them to clarify which age groups were more likely to cause trouble. Their findings identified that on the whole it was caused by the young and elderly and bizarrely not the middle aged.

They also asked the interviewees what the patient was doing when the conflict occurred.

All of the data was collated and they worked out an exact picture of everything. Then when they knew everything about the conflicts they brought in some experts on conflict resolution to teach the latest models/strategy techniques to groups of staff.

Once they had taught the staff some techniques they then brought in professional actors and made the staff their new found techniques on an actor who was given a very specific role based on the research which was identified earlier.

In other words they reproduced the actual events, in the actual locations, to teach the staff on the job. They also video recorded the staff practising these techniques with the actor and then played the videos back to a panel and then the panel coached the individual trainee on how to improve on what they were already doing correctly.

Once they had completed this process they would teach them more models and gave them more difficult role plays to do. If they taught method A against scenario B and they would then mix it up and make it more difficult.

They are going to feedback on what the impact of this style of coaching has achieved very soon. However, I know this will work because they use similar strategies in the pharmaceutical industry, this is what we had to do years ago on our training course. It works and in that case it made a massive difference in our ability to sell to people. All of the best companies are using these types of strategies because it forces you to raise your game and learn quickly

To be honest this is far less painful than getting attacked whilst working on the job in the NHS. I think the NHS should trial this in one hospital and test and measure it and evaluate it against the sickness./absenteeism levels. This style of training maybe costly at the outset but it could save our country billions.