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How to Deal with Irate and Aggressive Clients

Considering the current social climate, many facility managers, occupants, general managers, and more are struggling with how to deal with any irate and aggressive clients who enter their facility during open hours. Recently released statistics have shown that there has been a strong spike toward assaults against emergency service workers, however these kinds of confrontations are not limited to any industry.

Unfortunately, these situations can often escalate to verbal or even violent physical confrontations very quickly, a situation that all individuals would prefer to avoid. To maintain a safe and professional environment for all individuals involved, it is important to know how to handle these situations effectively.

In this article, we discuss a few tips that can help you de-escalate an altercation and maintain control of a situation involving an irate or aggressive client.


What are the most common signs of an irate and aggressive client?

Irate and aggressive persons will present themselves in many ways. In general, an episode of aggression from a person will be triggered by a particular event, which may involve circumstances that have led the client to feel threatened or frustrated.

Some of the most common tell-tale signs of an aggressive person entering your facility include:

  • Physical Activity

Is the person restless or agitated? Are they constantly fidgeting, pacing around the room? Other physical signs that point to an irate or aggressive client include the clenching on jaws/fist, hostile facial expressions entering off limit areas or uncomfortable yet sustained eye contact.

  • Speech

The clearest sign of an irate or aggressive client is the volume of their speech. Are they being unreasonably loud? Constantly swearing, threats and slurs are further indications of anger.

  • Reaction of staff

Do other occupants or staff in the facility react with feelings of fear, anxiety, uneasiness, frustration, or anger towards the person.

  • Mood

What kind of emotions is the person expressing? Anger, anxiety, being in tense or distressed or other similar emotions are key indicators of an irate client.

  • Appearance

Does the person appear intoxicated? Are there any other key indicators in their appearance that give the impression of being irate or aggressive? It is critical to keep an eye out for these key indicators.


What are the most common signs of an irate and aggressive client?

One of the most important actions that an individual can take when confronted with an irate or aggressive client is to best position themselves to handle the threat.

In general, the number one rule to follow is to avoid the threat or position yourself away from the threat. If an individual can see that a threat or potential concern is approaching them, it is best for them to simply exit the situation in the safest way possible.

To best do this, it is imperative for occupants to be aware of their exit routes. Signage for exit routes must also be clearly labelled in a facility to ensure that anyone can get a quick visual cue of where they can go to exit to safety.

If exiting the situation is not feasible during a potentially concerning situation, then individuals must do their best to create distance between themselves and the irate client. If distance cannot be created between an individual and irate client, then an attempt at negotiation can be made. However, if there is no other option, use of force may be required. This is a last resort option that is only recommended when all other options discussed prior have been exhausted.


What are the key characteristics of escalation towards violent behaviour?

Irate and aggressive clients entering a facility are quite confronting for an individual to face. However, despite their contentious nature it is not until the situation escalates into violence that major concern should arise over the situation.

Understanding the key characteristics of an irate or aggressive client that indicate a violent confrontation is about to occur, is therefore of extreme importance to ensuring occupant safety. Some of the key signs include:

  • Extreme loud verbal assaults
  • Aggressive movements that involve physical violence towards other occupants
  • Constant use of swearing that continues to escalate the situation further
  • A continued disregard of others, whether that be physically or verbally

If these signs are spotted, it is best to exit the situation as best you can. An individual’s life is worth more than anything else in these situations. There is no need to fight or defend property.


The major do’s and don’ts of irate client interactions

There are quite a few dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with irate and aggressive clients:


  • Ensure that you maintain a non-threatening and passive body posture when confronted with these kinds of situations. Examples of this include hands by your side, empty palms facing forward, body at a 45 degree to the aggressor.
  • Do your best to stay calm and keep your emotions in check during these scenarios, as tough as that may be.
  • Allow the client to air their feelings and acknowledge them if the situation does not escalate to a violent or threatening one.
  • Ask open-ended questions to allow them room to get their frustrations off their chest.
  • Be as flexible as you can, within reason of the situation.
  • Use the space for self-protection and maintain distance.
  • Ensure that all other occupants are as far out of harm’s way as possible, within reason without threatening your own safety.
  • Position yourself close to exits.



  • Never threaten or challenge the client during tense situations. This could be through your tone of voice, general body language or level of eye contact.
  • Never yell as this will escalate the situation, regardless of whether the client is yelling at you.
  • Rushing or arguing with an irate client leads to escalation so it is best to avoid doing this.
  • Stay around the vicinity if the situation continues to escalate.
  • Ignoring threats or warning of violence must never be done.
  • Tolerate any kind of violence or aggression.
  • Try to disarm the irate client or enter any physical interaction with them.


In the current social climate, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant of any irate or aggressive clients entering your facility. The above discussion outlines some of the ways in which you and your occupants can better handle these situations to increase the likelihood of occupant safety.


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