No one will ever break your rules again…

“None of what you taught will stop people from shooting up in my bathrooms.  How do I stop them?”

I had just finished a live training with an international fast-food company. 

The manager’s voice was somewhere between frustrated and frantic.

I explained—again—how to talk to someone who has broken a rule.

He interrupted me. 

“I don’t want to know how to talk to someone AFTER they broke the rules. How do I stop someone from breaking the rules in the first place so we never have to talk?”

Suddenly, it dawned on me.

He was looking for a magic solution where he, and his staff, wouldn’t have to talk to rule-breakers (especially rule-breakers who might be struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, etc.).

Companies sell products to eliminate problems without staff having to talk to anyone:

  • Video cameras
  • Door locks
  • Flood lights
  • Spikes that prevent people from lying down in public places

The problem is that they are marginally effective at best.

There is no replacement for the old-fashioned skill of being able to talk to someone who broke a rule.

This is worth saying:

If you serve the general public, folks will break your rules.

Vulnerable folks will break them.

Nonvulnerable folks will break them.

People are people and they sometimes do dumb stuff.

When folks break your rules, you have to talk to them about it.

It’s your job.

The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll get better at doing it.

Honestly, the best way to PREVENT problem behavior is ALSO BY TALKING to people. Here’s a video clip to explain what I mean:

(if the link doesn’t work, copy and paste it into your browser).

Have a great week!



P.S. This Thursday we’re showing the recording of our training Kicked Out: How to safely ask someone to leave (without calling the police) for FREE. Here’s the link to check it out and select your session:

Stay in touch

Receive weekly tips from Ryan about how to work with homeless, addicted and mentally ill patrons.