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Domestic Violence
in the Workplace


Hostile Clients


Workplace Violence 101







Cases Employers for Violence Prevention About Us Blog
De-escalation of Hostile Clients

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Often, irate customers and members of the public are verbally and even physically abusive to workers.  Intimidation, shouting, racial and sexist slurs are all forms of preliminary violence that may occur in the services of your customers and clients.  The effect of such abuse shows itself in low morale, poor performance, high turn-over and in the worst case scenarios, in physical confrontations. Knowing how to recognize the warning signs, applying the appropriate response and planning for safety are all keys to preventing a hostile situation from becoming dangerous.

High Risk Occupations

Health Care Workers 

Workforce Development 

Social Services 


  Customer Care Representatives

  Government/Public Sector

  Phone Operators

  Complaints Department



Skills Developed

Handle customer complaints professionally

Prevent the abusive behavior from affecting your attitude
and your day

Identify the warning signs and actions that
irritate and provoke you

Recognize dangerous warning signs

Demonstrate how to set limits tactfully

Turn a confrontation into a collaboration

Program activities

Inter-active group initiatives


Video presentations

Case study review

Office and facility assessment

Know your "Hot Button"

Lecture Presentation



Response to Level of Aggression

Angry and Agitated Behavior

When clients are speaking loudly, causing a scene, red in the face, causing a commotion, cursing, demanding services and generally  ticked off.  However, they may be laconic and quiet about their rage.

  • Non-threatening, non-verbal Communication
  • Active Listening Techniques
  • Providing Options

"Crossing the Line"

When customers are verbally abusive, shouting in your face, using derogatory language or invading personal space. 

Everyone has a different "line" but we all know when another person has crossed it.

  • Setting Boundaries, safely and respectfully by identifying what is not acceptable
  • Explaining consequences for behavior
  • Maintaining your ground

Dangerous, Threatening Behavior

When the clients actions cause you to be afraid for your own safety.   

Preventing you from leaving.
Making veiled or direct threats.
Physically intimidating you.

Protecting the yourself and others by
  • Watching for triggers to assaults
  • Distancing from assailant
  • Getting help
  • Escaping


NC Workforce Development Institute

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

Moore County Department of Social Services

Buncombe County Department of Social Services

Isothermal Community Development and Planning

NC Employment Security Commission