How to manage difficult situations

How to manage difficult situations

Let’s be clear here, when we say “difficult situations” we’re really just finding a politically correct way to say “difficult people”.  Because difficult situations are pretty much always caused by difficult people! And when we’re confronted with these situations, it really is a fine tuned skill to be able to deal with them in an emotionally and professionally correct manor.

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Your story:


You’ve just taught a fantastic class, you bounce off the mats and high five every delighted student goodbye as they beam out the door excitedly telling mum about the fantastic moves they’ve just learnt. You’re proud that the curriculum you’ve spent years developing is truly benefitting your students. The next group of students arrive and among the parents, in walks the mum Mrs Jones with possibly the angriest face you’ve ever seen… this is trouble personified. Before you have chance to say hi to everyone, she’s straight over to you, guns blazing, gearing herself up for an argument she’s played out in her mind hours/days before she stepped through the door. “Johnny came home on Tuesday night and said that all he did in the lesson was run around, play games and bash his friends with polystyrene batons. What the hell am I paying this club for, I want him to learn self defence skills. I’m paying good money here for what seems to be a playground. He’s not progressing and I’m getting fed up of it.” At this point, you’re embarrassed as all the parents are staring at you and you’re worried they will take heed of Mrs Jones’ complaints even though you know the class she refers to was based on fitness, balance and quick reaction skills. This has just killed your high and you feel defensive about your lessons and angered that someone would confront you in this way and you probably want to use your Martial Arts skills on her right there.

Her story:


She came home on Monday after a 12 hour shift at the factory that pays her peanuts only to discover a mountain of unpaid bills. Johnny went to bed a couple of hours of ago but her husband is worried he’s getting bullied in school, he’s very quiet and always walks out the school gates on his own. Thank goodness she found a Martial Arts school to take him to that should teach him to defend himself in case he is getting bullied. She can’t really afford it but she thinks it’s so important that she’ll find the money anyway she can. And he seems to be loving it so it’s money well spent. Then on Tuesday night he came home and she wanted to see the kicks and punches he’d learnt that evening. When she asks him to show her his new techniques he says “no we just ran around the hall a few times, did lots of exercises, played catch with the other kids then tried to hit each other with these soft bats, it was so much fun”.  She can’t believe it, she’s down to her last few pennies before pay day and doesn’t know how she’ll cover the electricity bill, and all she’s paying for is for Johnny to “have fun”.  How will that help him if he’s being bullied? She feels enraged, disappointed and pretty desperate. “Just wait until I see the Instructor in class, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind”.

The truth:


  1. Johnny had a fantastic class which he really enjoyed and taught him fundamental skills that will improve his self defence techniques immensely in time.
  2. Mrs Jones is really struggling for money
  3. Mrs Jones wants the best for Johnny
  4. The Instructor wants the best for Johnny
  5. The Instructor wants his lessons to be great value for money

Of course this is a one off exaggerated scenario to highlight how different people’s realities are and how their own realities affect judgement and decisions. However the fundamentals are the same for most difficult situations and here at NEST we have come to learn that the following strategy works in most cases:

Listen without talking

People who feel they have been aggrieved in some way just want someone to hear their entire story. And it’s important that you hear their entire story without interrupting so you are able to make a full and accurate judgement on where the problem has arisen.


Before you decide whether the Customer is right or wrong, have you got a full understanding of his/her experience? Have you put yourself in their shoes to establish whether you believe their complaints are justified? Would you respond in the same way had the same thing happened to you?

  • Firstly, let the Customer know that you are sorry they have had this negative experience and that it is your intention to do everything you can to resolve the issues. This will immediately calm the Customer down as they now feel you are on their side.
  • Research the complaint and feedback from the Customer to establish what really happened then educate the Customer on the facts i.e. the element of fitness is important in our Academy as it provides a platform for more effective self defence
  • Provide feedback and potential solutions that work both for the Customer and for you and for your School.

Complaints dealt with in the right way are actually a fantastic relationship building tool and can actually enhance a Customers loyalty and faith in your Academy.  Complaints dealt with in the wrong way can severely damage not only your relationship with that Customer, but many other Customers as well.

If you need any help or advice on customer services, a difficult customer or difficult situation, feel free to give the team at NEST a call on 0115 945 5030 or send an email to and we will be happy to help you.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row]

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