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a blog by Chris Barrow

Demanding and aggressive behaviour - a quick guide

This was an interesting comment on a recent Facebook post:

"CB do you have a blog on whether you think people are generally becoming more aggressive and demanding? Would be an interesting one."

The fact that the question is asked is indicative that the answer is "yes" - which is why I had posted in the first place about not letting oneself be a punchbag for others.

A closer examination of the question does, however, reveal the core of the problem.

Let's consider two very emotive words - "demanding" and "aggressive".

I've changed the order because there is some logic in considering what people ask for first and then how they react if they don't get it.


Are people becoming more demanding?

I'm not sure that's the actual problem.

My take on this is that folks are asking for "more" - they are simply asking for what they were used to pre-Covid.

They didn't used to have to wear masks on arrival - so why now when you see few masks out in the real world?

They didn't used to get refused access to dentistry and/or be told that they would have to wait 12 weeks for an appointment (or a reappointment if they missed due to Covid) - so why are there now dental deserts and queues?

In very simple terms - in the UK we have historically been blessed to live in a very free world and since Covid life has become much more regulated. There's a natural resistance to the imposition of more rules and restrictions.

I don't think the issue is "demanding" - I think it's "frustration".

How do we deal with this?

It is actually quite easy.

As I mentioned at a workshop last week, when Disney were getting complaints about long queues for the most popular rides, they simply created signposts along the line to inform customers how long they would have to wait.

It's not the knowing that is the problem - it's the not knowing.

People are resistant to the following:

  • Nasty surprises;

  • Sudden change;

  • Unexplained waiting.

It's not "demanding" to expect a 5-star customer service experience (if that is what you are charging for) but woe betide any surprises, change or waiting.

Communication is the key to managing expectations.

When it goes wrong - do we get "aggressive"?


Yes - of course we do - or else the question wouldn't be asked, not just by my correspondent but also every week in my inbox.

"How do I deal with this stroppy, aggressive patient, clinician, team member, boss?"

Back to The Karpman Drama Triangle and I strongly suggest you read all you can online about that. Start HERE.

When people are "frustrated" by their inability to get what they want/expect/have paid for - AND WHEN THEY THEMSELVES ARE EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE - they are likely to resort to The Drama Triangle:

Victim - "I can't believe you have done this to me."

Rescuer - "all I'm trying to do here is be a good patient, team member, boss."

Persecutor - "just you wait - I'll write a review - I'll take another job - I'll fire you."

So I'd prioritise self-education and team training right now on the subject of Karpman and how to handle those people who are demonstrating its effects.

Bottom line - people are frustrated and emotionally ill-equipped to deal with it - that manifests itself in demanding and aggressive behaviour - they are a consequence, not a cause.

Reduce frustration through communication.

Reduce aggression by learning how to manage those in drama.

Thanks Pav.

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