Q. Are counter security screens a good thing?
A. Yes, they can really help to prevent an aggressor getting to the employee and that helps the employee feel safe.
Q. But, safety screens impair the quality of communication between clients and reception staff, don’t they?
A. Yes – most of them will to some degree.
Q. And, doesn’t that compound the level of frustration experienced by the parties involved?
Q. And, isn’t that likely to lead to people raising their voices in an effort to improve the clarity of their message?
Q. Does that make it easier for them to start shouting?
Q. It’s also a bit embarrassing isn’t it ?
A. Yes – especially if the details of the message are personal! (e.g. a medical ailment)
Q. That could be annoying, couldn’t it?
A. Yes, really.
Q. Why do some people get so angry so quickly when they have to liaise with someone via a “security screen”.
A. Anything that interferes with ability to communicate will raise frustration and discontent in a person trying to pass information on.
Q. Has it got anything to do with the fact that the person behind the screen knows they are safe from attack and so behaves inappropriately (almost nonchalantly) in the face of increasing agitation in the other person?
A. Yes. Exactly.
Q. So, the employee fails to display the kind of body language and responses that they would if they weren’t protected and this is taken by the other person as a disrespect / insult.
Q. And that is why they get so angry – because they know that the employee would never dare behave like that if the screen wasn’t there.
Q. If the employee fails to face (and maintain suitable eye contact) with the customer that’s going to make things even worse isn’t it?
Q. Because, if someone is finding it difficult to hear and understand what the employee is saying they will naturally assume the employee will have the same difficulty hearing them right?
A. Yes, so far.
Q. So, when an employee sits back and doesn’t face the customer it not only denies the customer the ‘non verbal’ responses which would confirm their message was being received and understood, it can also seem like they really don’t care – even though they might?
A. Yes. That’s how I’ve felt too when I’ve had to communicate through a screen. Haven’t you?
Q. Yes. You’re right I have!
A. So we’re agreed – where security screens are being considered the decision making process should take into account and assess whether the problems that need to be prevented (i.e. angry aggressive customers), are going to be compounded.
Q. Yes and where they are used the Staff should be fully aware of and trained to avoid giving the ‘wrong message’.