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Preventing Fights & Aggression

Most fights start because one or more individuals have become intoxicated. It's up to you and your staff to keep drinking under control. Learn to look for the warning signs that a fight may break out.

There are lots of reasons to stop aggression before it gets out of control. Here are just a few:

  • Customers and staff are less likely to get injured
  • Less risk of damage to the premises
  • Lower risk of lawsuits

How do you put a lid on guests who want to blow off steam? Follow these practices:

Assess Your Workplace

  • Consider using plastic instead of glass for drinks for "high risk" events
  • Train staff to remove bottles from tables regularly
  • Do not include knives or swords as part of a display
  • Be aware that pool cues can be used as weapons
  • Ensure that all staff are trained on how to prevent aggression and know what to do if a fight breaks out

Stop the Fight Before It Starts

  • Have enough staff on duty to properly monitor guests
  • Train staff to be on the lookout for early trouble signs like escalating arguments that can lead to physical fights
  • Train staff to look for physical signs of intoxication (i.e. slurred speech, poor coordination) and body language that suggests anger or aggression (i.e. staring, clenched fists or teeth, hands across chest)

Act as a Team

  • Assess the situation before approaching a guest
  • Train staff to ‘tag team' when dealing with a problem situation. Never allow a single employee to approach a guest without ‘backup' from at least one other employee who can step in or get additional help if necessary
  • Tell staff to always stay in control of the situation and to try to manage their anger even if provoked

Use Security Staff

  • Have enough security for the size of crowd you expect
  • Avoid situations that can cause aggression to rise such as overcrowding and long line-ups
  • Hire and retain staff who are personable, can deal with guests and prevent trouble without resorting to aggression

Develop Safe Practices in the Event of a Fight
If a guest becomes aggressive or if a weapon appears:

  • Call the police immediately
  • Move other guests away from the area
  • Keep a safe distance from the guest and keep barriers (i.e. chairs/table) between you and the guest
  • Never use force that can cause harm unless it is in self-defense and then only if there is some danger from the aggressive person
  • If two guests are involved in a dispute, do not let them leave together as the fight will likely continue outside and you will be held accountable

The Ups and Downs of Intoxication

When a guest becomes intoxicated, everything changes – and not for the better. Take a look at the typical behaviours that go along with having too much to drink, and how these "ups and downs" can lead to aggression, unpredictability and fights.

What goes UP: What goes DOWN:
  • Emotion
  • Impulsiveness
  • Aggression
  • Concern about consequences or dangers
  • Thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to assess the situation accurately
  • Coping skills
  • Ability to see other viewpoints and perspectives