I was thinking a lot about my "former life" as a Psychiatric Social Worker after reading the blog on How to Deal with Potentially Violent Clients. I worked on an admission unit in a psychiatric center and the possiblity of a sudden threat arising was a reality all the staff worked with. Some of the same things we kept in mind are also useful in any setting and may help an ActiveRain member someday.
1. Trust your gut! I know this has been brought up before but it is crucial to trust your instinct. If you're feeling something is wrong, pay attention to it. It's better to have been wrong and feel silly afterwards than end up hurt.
2. Don't be afraid to ask someone to come with you. At first I'd be embarassed to ask a large male Mental Health Aide to sit in on an interview with a patient I had concerns about, but I got over it. If you are at all concerned ask another agent to come with you and present them as your teammate or have a spouse come with you (you can always say you're going somewhere directly from the showing site).
3. Always position yourself closest to the door. Do not ever let the person you're concerned about get between you and your exit. If a client starts yelling or getting angry start working your way casually out of the room and toward the front door.
4. If a client starts yelling about something, AGREE WITH THEM! If someone is angry and escalating, here's a newsflash - you cannot reason with them to see another point of view. If a client's behavior is making you really nervous say whatever they need to hear, and get out of the house. I don't care if they are outright delusional, agree with them so you can remove yourself from the setting. Which reminds me,
5. Don't turn your back on someone who truly seem unstable or may be a physical threat. Even while you're working your way towards the door, keep them in your sight - walk backwards if you need to, or keep them to one side of you.
6. Keep your car keys in a pocket, not your purse. Most of us these days have a keyless remote which has a panic button. If things get really bad, push the panic button - most remotes have a long enough range that if you're parked in the driveway and it's a normal size house it will work. Not a bad idea to keep your cell phone in your other pocket - if you need it quickly you don't want to have to go hunting for it.
It's sad that we all need to be so aware of our environment and safety, but it's a reality - I view the information above as I do a fire extinguisher in the house - hopefully it will never need to be used but if it is it can be life-saving.