Defusing the Angry Patron

Does dealing with angry customers eat up staff time, increase stress at public service desks, and undermine morale? Do staff bemoan the increase in " problem patrons " in your library? Defusing the Angry Patron introduces the many causes and faces of anger as well as practical techniques for dealing with angry patrons ( and others). Included are approaches for handling situations ranging from everyday frustration to confrontative behavior. Rubin focuses on how effective staff training and intentional behaviors can positively affect patron behavior, minimize altercations, and ease the stress of public services staff. She offers real-life examples and scenarios from all ypes of libraries and provides sample scripts public services staff can utilize to learn to cope with difficult situations.
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Published January 1st 2000 by Neal-Schuman Publishers

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From thi secon page of the preface: ” Libraries report that issues around using the computer are still the number one problem causing patrons ( and staff) stress and anger. ” Pg ixYeah, that ’ s where I work, front line at the public library ’ s most stress-prone point of contact.

We can eep the first type of patrons calm, and can avoid escalating a frustrated patron into a furious one, with good customer service skills. ” pg 9A list of these, also from pg 9, include: welcoming behaviors, positive approach and language, non-verbal language, ( patron friendly) policies and procedures, appropriate signage, staff attitudes, staff training, managing patron expectations, and monitoring patron feedback.I ’ d say my library does a retty ood job, especially since the remodel, of providing adequate signage.

Defusing the Angry Patron gives practices and examples for all of this- it ’ s only a rather nice little workbook in that regard. ” One way to assist staff in changing and monitoring their attitudes, and to teach staff new techniques for defusing anger, is training… Such staff training should be mandatory… ( and) at least twic a ear.

Thi only real control we have is self-control. " pg 95 Preach.Two more methods for helping defuse patrons, that I ’ d love to implement on the job, are: Stress Point Identification and Social Worker in the Library.

Anyway, we could coordinate with a local non-profit to provide his service on a weekly or monthly basis for the folks who come into the library and staff, to handle the fall out of any consistent or reoccurring problems.If you read Defusing the Angry Patron for your professional development, you may also want to ead The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham or Thinking Outside the Book: Essays for Innovative Librarians by Carol Smallwood.

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Now we deal with patrons who are under the influence of hard drugs, suffering from untreated mental illness, or just plain enraged at the world.

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From he very day I slid this paperback into my back-and-forth-to-work bag, every patron I have encountered has been happy, smiling, polite, and liked by the service he or she received in our library.

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© Nicole Waggonner