MAYWOOD, Ill. – In a few weeks the eyes of the world will be on Chicago as representatives from 28 countries attend the NATO Summit. In addition to dignitaries and staff, many protesters are planning to come to let their voices be heard in an international spotlight. Large crowds and passionate exchanges of ideals can create a stressful environment for those who work in areas near the summit meetings.
“Businesses need to start planning for surprises that might accompany the NATO summit by training their employees. Simple communication tips can help keep your employees and your business safe,” said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, director of Occupational Health at Loyola University Health System.
She offers a 3-step plan to help business owners and managers equip employees for handling potentially high-stress situations.
Crowded transportation, demanding customers and hassles at local restaurants can all contribute to conflict. This can affect our blood pressure, sleep, focus and technical skills. Employees who are coached to be calm in the face of rudeness, delays or heated conversations are more likely to focus on de-escalating their own reactions to a possible dispute. They also are less likely to commit an error, mistake or accident.
Visualize, don’t verbalize
Ensure that communication is as easy as possible. Since this is a global summit there will be people speaking a number of languages. If your company has specific instructions for purchasing an item or service, it might be best to create “language-free” visual directions. For instance, if your store sells shoes and customers are required to wear a foot stocking or sock while trying on a pair, use a picture or graphic to show this. Cross-cultural messages are less likely to be experienced as disrespectful. Better yet, employees can complete more sales when there isn’t a communications roadblock.
Spoken and physical threats can raise one’s blood pressure and lead to feelings of sickness, stress or fearfulness. Whenever possible, choose peaceful words and approaches to direct employees in their assignments. Try to keep the environment quiet by asking co-workers not to shout or bang the door. Finally, monitor problem-solving around customer complaints to ensure that staff have adequate privacy to hear the expressed concern without giving an audience to behavior that may be disruptive.
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