The Wrong Way
Both staff members handle the situation together.
This actually escalates the situation:
The Right Way
Instead of doing it together, each person has a different role:
A few extra comments:
Use This Model to Train Newer Staff
I recommend that you use my model for back-up to train newer staff. For minor situations, have the newer staff person be the primary staff and the senior staff person serve as backup. Afterwards, the senior person can debrief with the new staff member, telling him/her what was done well and what could be done better. If—for some reason—the situation escalates out of control, the senior staff member should take over and switch roles (not just join the conversation).
If it is a potentially serious situation, the more seasoned staff member should always be in the primary role.
Do Not Let Chivalry Get in the Way
If the primary staff person is a woman and the backup staff person is a man, there is a tendency for the man to want to defend the woman (even if she is much more experienced and competent). This always makes the situation worse.
Make sure that the backup person knows that he is NOT to join the conversation.
f you are a female staff member and a male patron tries to come to your “rescue” I recommend that you politely tell him, “I’ve got this, but thank you” and then casually turn so that the meddling patron is behind you. Most people can take a hint.
When in Doubt, Just Ask