How often should you train for dealing with a difficult person? I guess the answer to that will be based on how often you and your staff deal with such a person, and how proficient you want yourself and your staff to be when dealing with a loud, rude, and obnoxious person. I think generally at the very least twice a year should be attempted.
Some people are naturals at dealing with stressful encounters, they have a way of calming an agitated person down, nothing seems to push their buttons as they are cussed at and disrespected and so on. The rest of us have to train to focus and remain calm and work on not wanting to punch someone in the face! Any type of activity or skill that requires being able to control stress of any type will require consistent training to gain any appreciable level of proficiency and efficiency.
Reading about how to do something or handle a situation or watching how-to videos can only and will only go so far. You can read about how to be a better batter in baseball, you learn from an early age to “keep your eye on the ball”, you watch videos on proper form and technique… But then you eventually have to step up to the plate and make your body go through the motions that you saw on the videos, you have to judge for yourself that little white ball coming at you at 60 mph and figure out for yourself when to swing with a bat. How often do you practice swinging at a ball before you get the hang of it, before you start hitting that fast ball consistently?
How about ballet? The coordination, strength, stress involved are unimaginable to those of us to don’t dance professionally or on any consistent basis.
The surge of adrenaline when dealing with an agitated person, or a person who is choosing to be loud and rude and obnoxious, can be over whelming for people who are not prepared for such an encounter. People prefer to think of other people as being basically kind and nice, so when they suddenly find themselves in a confrontational situation it can be very stressful. Some people will either over react, or under react, or not react at all and collapse in a heap weeping. Training to deal with a stressful situation will help you work through the surge of adrenaline. I have had so many people tell me of the shock they feel when someone is suddenly loud and rude to them, and after their initial shock they want to yell back or punch the person in the face!
Proper training ought to give you a little surge of adrenaline, be short, and be winnable! The surge of adrenaline helps you develop some stress inoculation, you will be able to work through it if and when you find yourself in an actual situation. Proper training is winnable so that you come away psychologically prepared for an actual encounter. There is no point in training if all you do is beat down someone. As a person gets better at a skill, any skill or activity, you start increasing the challenges and stress in little bits. Keep challenging.
Science and real world experience has shown over and over again the critical connection between consistent realistic training and success with over coming stressful situations. When I was in the Army as an infantryman we were in the field playing war games OFTEN! That is why the US military is as awesome as it is, we train often, we train hard, and we train realistically.
When I became a police officer it was the same thing, but this time we trained and re-certified at least twice a year with our weapons and went through decision making scenarios, we went back to basics with handcuffing and pepper spray and grappling. A proper and well rounded training program should always spend some time going over basics. If you do not have a firm grasp of the basics you will not be able to move on to the next level with any real proficiency or skill.
It seems that the vast majority of organizations train to deal with serious incidences such as an active shooter or mass casualty incident, and the basic situation of dealing with an upset person is forgotten or not considered to be very important. Yet a “simple” stressed out person could potentially dissolve into a violent situation if not handled properly! If you or your staff do not pay attention to how you are dealing with an angry person, and you do not train and practice with realistic scenarios, you may in fact be escalating the situation!