Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em!

I’m sure that you are all wondering, “What does MC Hammer have to do with nightclub security?”

Absolutely nothing.

But the words “Don’t Hurt ‘Em” are important and have a lot to do with nightclub security. In the last post, I discussed Use of Force and gave an example of poorly applied Force. Today, I’ll focus on ways that being physical can be avoided, using last post’s video clip as a reference point.

More often than not, one is exposed to verbal abuse and harassment while working in a bar or nightclub. People have a few drinks and get angry, or depressed, or just plain rude. And sometimes that rudeness is direct at you!

First off, you have to realize that it is part of the job, just as much as breaking up fights, picking up glasses, or standing underneath a pounding speaker on a crowded dance floor. You can’t take the verbal abuse personally, NO MATTER WHAT THE PATRON SAYS! Second, remember that while you may be the target of this abuse, it is usually because of something or someone else. Yes, there are occasions when patron anger is directed at you, but regardless of the source of anger, your action and response is what will dictate the direction of the ensuing conversation.

So what to do if you are being harassed? Here are some solutions that will help avoid physical confrontation:

1) Use of Language – Vocal tone and body language can make the difference in any situation. Explain how the patron’s behavior is affecting their safety or the enjoyment of others, and offer a possible solution. Let the patron know what they are doing wrong (“Sir, you are trespassing right now/getting a little too close to me/that language isn’t necessary”), what they can do to remedy their actions (“Can you take a few steps back for me/clear this walkway/keep it down?”) and what will happen if they do not (“We will have to ask you to leave/we are going to be forced to call the police”).

This use of language not only lays out action and consequence, but also gives you as the bouncer a stronger legal footing should you have to resort to using some sort of physical force. The key to using language is stay calm and collected. Be respectful but FIRM in your statements. Do NOT yell. You are trying to de-escalate, not incite. Patrons must ALWAYS be treated with respect, regardless of how their behavior has been affected by alcohol.

2) Ignore the Intoxicated Patron – In a situation where you are standing with another bouncer or are in an area that gives you freedom of movement (behind a rope/on an open patio), ignoring a drunk patron can work wonders.

In last post’s video clip, the Patron is obviously aiming his anger at Bouncer #1. Bouncer #1’s best move is to ignore him. Detaching yourself from a situation can often resolve the problem immediately. The drunk isn’t getting your attention, so he’ll move on. Does this mean that you stop paying attention to the intoxicated individual? No. It means that you stop giving that individual attention. No eye contact, no verbal contact. Do not engage them. It is easy to ignore someone and keep them within your peripheral vision and scope of awareness. An intoxicated individual has a short attention span and by removing yourself from their scope of attention, you are in essence removing yourself from their brain.

3) The Buddy System – Remember needing a “buddy” during field trips in elementary school? Hopefully, you are working with a team or at least one other individual in your bar or nightclub. And this “buddy” can be indispensable when dealing with a troublemaker.

Let your partner (in the case of the video, Bouncer #2) step in if you are having problems with a patron. Many times, a drunk’s attention is easily disrupted by the appearance of an individual not involved in the initial conversation. Does this mean that Bouncer #2 should get in the patron’s face? No. But he can help to diffuse the situation by acknowledging the troublemaker and deflecting the anger aimed at Bounder #1. This also allows Bouncer #1 to reassess the situation/walk away/get more back up/call Law Enforcement.

Add these tips to your bag of tricks and give them a shot next time you are dealing with an intoxicated patron who is bent on getting your attention.

We’ll talk drunks and distraction next time. But for now…Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em!

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