Keep your cool around the pool

busy swimming pool with lifeguard on duty

From time to time, disagreements can occur around the pool. While conflicts can arise for many different reasons and are generally just a part of life, they have the potential to be destructive or unsafe for other patrons at an aquatic facility. Knowing how to effectively manage conflict is a vital skill for lifeguards on duty.

Warning Signs

Be aware of the various verbal and non-verbal warning signs that a patron may display, including their body language. These can include:

  • Appearing upset, angry or aggressive.
  • Looking flustered or frustrated.
  • Looking around as if seeking assistance – some people may not be willing to ask directly for help but it can be clear from their body language that they are seeking it.
  • Getting into people’s faces and prodding or shoving another person while communicating.
  • Raising their voice. As people become more agitated their voices will typically become louder.
  • Being argumentative. They may keep pressing the same point and not budging from their position.

Managing conflict

There are different strategies for de-escalating conflict and the strategy used will often depend on the situation and the person’s nature. In general, however, the most effective strategy is often the ‘collaborative’ style.

Collaborating is a strategy that involves delving into an issue to identify the underlying concerns and seeking an alternative that meets the concerns on both sides of the conflict. The collaborative style combines assertiveness with cooperation, and it works well for most situations.

Conflict resolution

In reaching a resolution, recognise that each party has a right to their own feelings about an issue and aim to understand each point of view regardless of whether you agree with it.

Work with all parties to come up with possible solutions to the problem. Remain positive and constructive, provide encouragement and help them to agree on a solution.

It’s important to identify potential conflict as early as possible and try to diffuse the situation before things escalate. Be mindful of any warning signs and act quickly to reach a resolution.



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