Dealing with difficult situations

The following guidance is provided for dealing with dissatisfied members of the public:

  • Listen carefully and take the person’s concerns seriously.
  • Reassure the person by letting them know you have heard what they have said and you have understood their feelings and concerns. Find some common ground you can agree on.
  • Where the person may be aggressive, confrontational, or are repeating the same point unnecessarily, tell the person that you have understood and repeat their words back so it is clear you have heard them fully.
  • The person may be unclear about what you can and cannot do. If you need to pass on the information to another organisation or agency, make sure the person understands why you are doing this and that you have their agreement to share their personal information with the other organisation or agency.

Try to pass on as much information as possible to the referral, so that the person does not need to explain their situation again.


To improve the person’s experience, look at how you can improve communication provided by your organisation. This could include:

  • Providing training on communication techniques such as interviews, presentations, message taking, telephone dialogues and conversational skills.
  • The National Disability Authority produced a free, short, interactive eLearning training course on disability equality awareness. This course will equip public sector staff with the necessary skills to provide an effective customer service to everyone and especially customers with disabilities.
  • Providing training on computer-supported video communication techniques.