One of the biggest challenges that Distress Line volunteers may experience is to respectfully, yet tactfully deal with challenging callers. Brigitte Bill and Arianne Richeson, the presenters of the following video provide viewers with a broad overview of the types of difficult callers that Distress Line volunteers may encounter and how to most effectively respond when in these situations.
They point out possible reasons for why these people challenge us and their goals for doing so. Specific phrases are provided for volunteers to use when dealing with particularly difficult calls. This learning session will explore these issues and give guidelines as well as describe solutions for challenging situations using empathetic assertiveness.
Questions for Further Consideration:
Think about your own strengths and ways callers push boundaries:
Have you looked at what types of callers cause you the most difficulty?
Be ready by writing out phrases that will help you to set boundaries and keep them posted near the phone. You may also write out key phrases that will help you stay empathically assertive while setting the limit.
Think about a time you have taken a call that you have been particularly challenged by the caller’s words. Ask yourself: Did I set clear limits? If no, what could I say to set better boundaries?
Did I allow the caller to pull me into their issues beyond what was comfortable? If yes, what could I do or say to prevent this from happening again?
Reminder: The Three Golden Rules of Assertiveness
Clear – Limits are clearly described
Concise – Limits are expressed in as few words are possible
Consistent – The limits or boundaries must be consistently enforced.