Cut the C.R.A.P.™ Keep the Compassion.

Cut the C.R.A.P.!™ Keep the Compassion.

You got into this career because you wanted to help people.  You may or may not have expected to find yourself being Cussed at, dealing with general Rudeness, Aggressive behavior, and Personal insults.  Here you find yourself though, faced with unreasonable and unruly patients, patrons, or customers, feeling jaded, burned out and stressed.  It’s part of job, right?  WRONG.

You help people for a living. You should be getting Thanks, not C.R.A.P.!™

  • Cussing
  • Rudeness
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Personal Insults

When you are faced with any of these, there are some tools we can use to diffuse the situation and solve their problem so you can feel good about the interaction as opposed to stressed!  They can be ignored as appropriate, but if they are getting in the way of doing your job peacefully, it’s time to take some action.

Here are the basics:

  1. There is always time to take a breath. Take a breath and school your tone, pace, and body language to exude CALM. You are (or at least act) calm and in charge.
  2. Be the authority. They are someone else’s two-year-old giving you a tantrum, and you are the adult.  Treat them matter-of-factly, and with respect, while demanding respect.
  3. Recruit a team member to help or support your effort.
  4. Name the behavior, give a reason, offer choices, and the most powerful words you can give to someone who is giving you C.R.A.P.™: “What do you want to do?”

CUSSING: Use the 3 Steps to Assertiveness: Focus on the Behavior.

  • Step 1:Name it. Name the behavior “you’re using derogatory language now”
  • Step 2:Claim it. Name how it affects you, or the situation. “I don’t appreciate that, and we need to keep g-rated language in this office.”
  • Step 3:Treat them like they’re two, and offer choice (peas or carrots).  “Would you like to continue now so we can solve your issue or would you like to come back later?”

RUDE Behavior: Use the 3 Steps to Assertiveness: Focus on the Tangible Facts.

“You’re being rude.” Is subjective to opinion.

Focus on the behavior based on something specific they can change.  Be Clear.  “Your music is loud, and we need to keep a quiet lobby so people can hear their name when we call them.  Would you like to turn it down, or would you like to listen outside?  If you’re going to be in here, it needs to be turned down.  What do you want to do?”

Aggressive Behavior: They are stretching to appear bigger.  You notice balled up fists, bladed stance, clenched teeth.  Watch out! In addition to the 3 Steps to Assertiveness, you’ll need to pay particular attention to positioning with this person, in relation to you, your other patients, patrons, or customers, and your co-workers.

  1. Always leave a clear path between them and the door. If they want to leave, the path is clear!
  2. Give them personal space! As much as you can, and minimum 5 feet of space: out of immediate reach.
  3. Create a barrier. Having something in between you and an aggressor can help reduce the likelihood of escalation to a physical altercation.  A table, counter, desk, chair, pole, what ever is available.
  4. With a calm and in charge attitude, ask them to sit down in a specific chair, preferably in a separate area so you can help them out. It’s more difficult to escalate while sitting down as opposed to standing.  Giving them a minute to sit and collect themselves may help them to calm down.
  5. Go into diffusing the situation: Calming gestures, personal space, name the emotion so they feel heard, speak empathetically without getting into the story, offer choices so they feel they have some power over their situation, jump into 3 Steps, etc.

Personal Insults: When someone starts hurling personal insults at you, it’s no longer about the problem at hand.  They have an imaginary biting, scratching monkey on their back, and they are simply trying to put it on you instead.  That monkey belongs to them.  Don’t accept it.

  1. You have the choice to accept or reject their personal remarks. It’s not about you- don’t accept their words personally.  Picture them as someone else’s two-year-old.  If a two-year-old spews hate at you, you understand that it’s not about you.  Remember that here too.
  2. Choose to ignore or address this issue, but keep any emotion out of it. “1. You’re making personal remarks about me. 2. I am here to help you, to solve your problem, etc.  I can do this if we work together to find a solution.  What do you want to do?  Work on this or leave?”

It’s time to learn and develop the tools to stop taking C.R.A.P.™ personally and professionally.  Calm, matter-of-fact speech, awareness, personal space, and keeping your compassion while demanding respect in a non-confrontational way is POWERFUL. You come out of it with pride in the way you handled it.  You will use this experience to improve future CRAPpy interactions as well, and your confidence will only increase.


Be safe. Be Strong. Be EMPOWERED!


Michele Maupin is the founder of Empowered, LLC.  Our Mission is to Empower teams to reduce their stress level and increase work satisfaction through vital strategies and tools utilizing team dynamics, awareness, and communication.  Contact us for a free consultation to see if your office would be a good match for an Empowered Program.