Corruption Matters - May 2018 - Issue 51

Tips for responding to challenging behaviour

by NSW Deputy Ombudsman Chris Wheeler   

The NSW Ombudsman is currently finalising the latest edition of the Managing Unreasonable Conduct by Complainants Practice Manual and the development of new guidance on restoring relationships with complainants. These companion publications will be available in the second half of 2018.

man at desk on the phone

The NSW Ombudsman’s guidance on restoring relationships is aimed at helping complaint-handlers better understand the causes of conflict in a complaint process and how to manage them. It also looks at ways to try and restore or rebuild a working relationship between an agency and a complainant. This guidance is largely targeted at agencies providing essential services who have to maintain a relationship with the complainant. The following extract deals with possible ways of responding to frustration and aggression exhibited by a complainant.

Responding to frustration and aggression

The complaint-handling process can be a challenging and frustrating experience for everyone involved. While some people are able to respond calmly and respectfully to situations such as this, other people can become angry, upset, aggressive and, in some isolated cases, violent as a result. In some cases, these responses are clearly a result of what has happened, while in others, an extreme response can be a result of additional influences and factors

When a complainant begins to exhibit the initial signs of increasing frustration, it is important that you recognise this, and adjust your response to try and reduce their frustration and the level of conflict. When a complainant is aggressive and argumentative, the following very effective strategies can help.

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