Division of Housing Workshop

Confrontation Skills

Case Studies

 

Case 1: You receive a call from a new Resident Assistant serving as the RA on call. He informs you he has been called to a disturbance on a floor other than his own. The RA observed several persons in a room with music being played loudly. Efforts to explain how the noise was disturbing other persons on the floor appear to have had no impact on the students. They said their music was not loud and the problem was with the other people on the floor who always seem to complain about things. They stated how tired they were of others invading their space and trying to dictate their lives to them. When the RA warned them of documentation, if they failed to comply, several of them told him to get out and go find more important things to do. The RA, confused about how to respond, has called you.

When you arrive the music is still loud. The resident in the room is angry with the continued interruption of his evening and states his frustration at being picked on by everyone. While he is willing to turn the volume down some, he also states he is sure he will likely be reported again by some "suck up" on the floor. One of the other persons is overheard to say that they will find out who keeps ratting on them.

What are the issues salient to the confrontation?

How does one go about de-escalating the level of intensity in the situation?

What are follow-up concerns to be addressed initially?

 

What if:

The individual complains that this is a racial issue by a couple of people on the hall who just donít like this "type of music".

It is necessary to document the persons in the room and several refuse to give their identity.

One person in the room "gets in your face" and tells you to go and find something more important to do.

 

Case 2: As the management staff on duty you are called to come to the area office. The office personnel inform you that a parent is upset because he has been denied the use of a key to enter their daughterís room. On introducing yourself to the parents, you are confronted by the fatherís anger that the institution appears not care in the least about the safety of their child. He demands a key to check on the well being of his daughter. When you try to explain the policies regarding privacy and under what conditions a room may be entered, you are interrupted by an angry outburst from the father who describes the system as incompetent and that he is going to gain entrance one way or the other. The mother then tries to explain that they have heard nothing form their daughter who usually calls every other day. She has been dating someone of whom they disapprove. The parents and daughter had an argument over the phone and she hasnít been heard from since. The roommate has been unhelpful in informing the parents as to the whereabouts of their daughter. They are concerned she has runaway. The father interrupts his wife telling her this is private, family business and that you have no business knowing their problems.

What are the issues salient to the confrontation?

How does one go about de-escalating the level of intensity in the situation?

What are follow-up concerns to be addressed initially?

 

What if:

The father interrupts you and calls you incompetent and demands to speak to someone who is really in authority.

Another staff member, upset by the escalation of the emotions, intervenes and says that he will be glad to escort them to the room and let them in.

The father, seeing a student proceed to enter the hallway by keying in, tries to follow the student to his daughterís room.

 

Case 3: You are requested by a RA to assist with a conflict which has evolved between roommates. The RA describes the initial concerns around shared space and the tendency of one student to take up more space that the other thinks fair. When you accompany the RA down to the room, you observe several students standing around the hallway. Your RA notes that the other residents have been picking up sides as who to support. Initial efforts on your part to discuss and resolve the issue with the roommates prove futile. Both residents are blaming each other and invoking the opinions of other students as their allies. One of the roommates becomes so upset with the other she angrily storms out of the room and down the hall. Shortly thereafter, you receive a call from both studentís parents. Both sides advocate the other student being removed from the room immediately.

 

What are the issues salient to the confrontation?

How does one go about de-escalating the level of intensity in the situation?

What are follow-up concerns to be addressed initially?

 

What if:

A parent says you are obviously unprepared to manage this situation and, therefore, s/he is going to call the Director of Housing and requests the number.

A parent makes allegations that s/he does not want their daughter living in the same room with a gay student.

A group of students from the floor come to you angrily demanding that one of the students be moved. Through happenstance the student they wish to remain is a member of their Greek organization.

Case 4: You receive a call from the Desk Assistant (DA) reporting several students in the area lobby are arguing and have not responded to requests to calm down. The DA also observes that one of the students is acting as if impaired. Upon arrival you find seven students, two of whom are women, engaged in a heated conversation about activities which occurred earlier in the evening at a party. You identify yourself and ask what is going on. One student suggests you "bug out", that this is a personal conversation. Efforts by you to clarify the problem with their behavior only further incite the one student who refers to you in profane terms and pointing finger. In response to one of the group trying to calm him down, the student shoves him telling him to get out of his face.

What are the issues salient to the confrontation?

How does one go about de-escalating the level of intensity in the situation?

What are follow-up concerns to be addressed initially?

What if:

The student, after swearing at you, pushes you.

A group of students begin to gather around which seems to further aggravate the situation.

The student who was initially shoved fights back.

MORE CASES...


Wayne D. Griffin, Ph.D. 02/23.01