In my last post I promised that I would delve a bit deeper the POLITE system I have developed. So here is the first post, of six, explaining each letter of the word and how they all fit into my system for conflict resolution.

POLITE – P is for Position

Whenever you are dealing with a potentially aggressive client you need to think about your position in relation to a number of things.

Here are some quick questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where are you in relation to your client?
  2. Are you in a higher or lower position than your client?
  3. Are you sat down with your client stood over you? This isn’t a good position to be in, if your client is being aggressive or pushy, so it would be a good idea for you to stand up.

Other person stood up

If the other person is stood over you, I would quickly find an excuse to get to your feet and take a step back to try and create some distance between you both. If you are further away it is a little safer. The distance also sends out a non-verbal message to the other person.

I always recommend that you try to create more distance between you both not less. If I am only sat inches away from the other person, I can’t really analyse the different adjustments to their body language – so how will I know if he/she is going to get violent?

If you are stood up, and the client is sat down, you may be sending the sub-conscious message that you are trying to dominate them and stating you are a dominant position. In this situation, they will go one of two ways, either bow to your domination or come out fighting. Remember we are always looking for a win/win!

Both seated

If we are both seated and I allow you to stand up and I stay seated then I could be perceived to be coming across passively or worse, easy prey. Be warned, the other person is far more likely to attack in this situation. All of this happens sub-consciously, so ideally you both want to be sat down.

Won’t sit down

If the other person won’t sit down, try to use embedded commands, such as “Please take a seat”, then you might have to stand up so you are on equal footing.

Always sit down at the same time as them, as this sends out the subliminal message – we can work on this together.

The angle

If we are sitting directly opposite each other, it could be perceived as being aggressive and I may also be blocking their exit making them much more likely to feel uneasy. If I’m blocking their exit, and the other person is dropping into fight or flight mode, they may have to fight in order to flight! However, if a person feels they can easily get out of the room it helps give them a sense of empowerment.

Your hands

Your hands should always be out in front of you, preferably palm up, and open and never clenched.

You should use your hands to monitor the distance between you and the other person. If I know you can’t touch me then I can’t touch you. This technique is known as ‘The Fence’. It puts a fence around the body and sends a sub conscious message or a psychological barrier.

If your hands are open it sends a message that you come in peace. The other person is more likely to come out fighting if they can’t see your hands, in fact, this is where the handshake originally came from. However, don’t have your hands out completely straight, just 80-90% out , this technique is called moving hands.

If you feel the need to be a little more assertive, but not aggressive, try facing your hands downwards to the floor.

If your person moves around the room make sure you move round too with your hands always in front of your body acting as a sensory tentacle.

Remember position is key when resolving a conflict.